Problems with Bennett’s thinking?
Comment on Bennett post: the will and power of attention
03.08.09 at 3:18 pm ·
It’s an interesting attempt, but at the end of the day, these are just words on a piece of paper (i.e. it seems recondite but it could still be complete bullsh*t). Are we sure that this is going to lead to any results beyond intellectual masturbation.
I am not a Bennett expositor or spokesman, and moved beyond him years and years ago, but as time goes by I can see the hopeless barrenness of most scientific/religious/New Age spiritual psychologies. People are condemned to live in a desert. So as I look at my experience here it was helpful to be reminded of the complexity of the human frame, mind/body/soul, and of the fact of how little we know.
Also, the ‘archaeology’ of Samkhya remains to be studied. Shall we condemn that also as ‘just words’?
There is at least a lesson here: NEVER trust the ‘spiritual psychologies’ of sufis, or most gurus. They are fast-talking lingo that snare people in lesser understandings. Bennett shows how rarely anyone arrives at understanding of the self.
Note that in Buddhism the ‘path’ leads beyond all this to ‘enlightenment’, abandoning (perhaps advisedly) the labyrinth of the self.
But it is clear in Buddhism that, as with Schopenhauer, the path is to ‘negate’ will.
There is no absolute reason why that should be the only spiritual way.
I have indicated many problems with Bennett’s work, but he at least forces one to the act of courage (and despair) of realizing that we are orphans of civilization: we have NO honest or useful resources to help come to self-understanding. Noone, not even those bragging of enlightenment, have been of any help.
The question raised by Bennett is, can we put down in writing the classic outline of a spiritual psychology for use by general humans in a civil society?
Bennett’s efforts gave it a try. Who can do better, pray tell?
Or do it at all.
Beyond any of this lies the realization of a tradition, said to be a hidden ‘master tradition’ of the ‘will’, beyond those of ‘being’.
Well,maybe so, and we shall see if anything comes of it.
If Bennett’s work is any indication, we have been indulging in some lesser efforts!
The charge of ‘just words’ is a good one, but it is then as valid for the sutras of the Buddhists, the blather of Rajneesh, the lies of Gurdjieff, and the hypnotic deceptions of the Bible, etc…
I think that Bennett’s work is too complex for practical use, however, and the result is not designed to lead people to practical efforts.
In that sense Buddhism is still much better.
But remember what Buddhism says: existence in reality is totally pointless, seek liberation from it all, including the will: truncate your being down to a minimum, and escape.
The implications of that are not what the many will accept. Thus the path of the will at least in barest principle stands as a challenge to other ways. That it might be its own futile illusion is always possible.
Note: the tradition of Samkhya doesn’t propose practical methods: it is a question of coming to understand the laws of cosmic reality, and that induces liberation as such.