This talk is focused on the second of the two causes of dukkha which is clinging, upadana in Pali; last week’s posting of July 31 was focused on the other cause of dukkha, craving, tanha in Pali. Peter described ego as a dynamic process of the brain during which sorting through and prioritizing various sensory stimuli in the creation creates a “self”, emphasizing that this process is affected by “confirmation bias”, a psychological process which overrides new considerations, emphasizing already organized memories in self-state identifications. This is clinging, and it inevitably creates a more or less confusing conflict between what the mind creates from memory and what actually happens. He used the example of a personality organized around prior conditioning towards perfectionism that is adversely affected when a failure occurs, generalizing a mistake into “I am a stupid failure!”.
A Buddhist concept called sunnata (soon-yah-tah) was described, traditionally translated as emptiness, which misrepresents the term as similar to the space between stars. It is better understood as, for example, the absence of any determining description regarding sound before being interpreted by the mind’s confirmation bias. Referring to a concept that Daniel Siegel terms the “plane of possibility”, the progression of self-forming process was related to as being clearly investigated and understood through the cultivation of mindfulness of breathing, which allows insight into more creative and flexibly adaptive self-state organizing processes to alleviate the conflicted personality confusion of dukkha.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Dukkha As Mental Confusion
Next week’s talk will focus on clinical anxiety as a pschological example of dukkha, suggesting ways that mindfulness practices can bring relief to this mental disorder. Peter, who has a 35 year background in psychotherapy, will focus on how mindfulness has been clinically effective in resolving this condition, which is reaching epidemic proportions in current American culture.