Partially Enlightened AMA

by grumpyfreyr1 min read16th Aug 202029 comments


Personal Blog

Read first:

Partially enlightened means my journey is far from over. I am not totally free of suffering, though I do find suffering very entertaining, whether it's other people's suffering or my own. I am suffering right now. It's, so funny.

Edit/clarification: it's not really suffering that's funny, it's perception of/belief in suffering. Suffering is in the map, not the territory.

Partially enlightened means I understand the true nature of the problem you are trying to solve (bias) and almost everything you discuss is redundant to me. I have overcome bias to a degree that is inconceivable to the ordinary mind. that from my perspective, there are no technical or social problems to solve - or any problems for that matter.

You can ask me anything, but that does not mean I will answer anything. My aim is to be helpful-as-I-understand-helpfulness, not helpful-as-you-understand-helpfulness. The unenlightened tend to ask (metaphorically) for weapons.

One upshot of corrected perception is a shift in motivation, which means I'm quite happy to leave others' curiosity unsatisfied, even when I have an answer.

A few points before we start:

  • Enlightenment being a state of mind (see upper left quadrant in Attacking enlightenment), there's no point any of us trying to prove or disprove anything.
  • Relatedly, there's no point in asking about my inner experience. If you could understand my state of mind, you would share my state of mind, permanently. Far from being a transient idea, enlightenment is non-reversible - there are some things you just can't unsee. In general it is better to ask questions about your own inner experience.
  • I don't find disagreeing with people to be a good use of time and attention, so anyone who takes up a contrary position will likely be left to die on that hill.

My motivation for doing this, is to increase the certainty of (or else disprove) my conclusion that in spite of all its accomplishments, the LW community has nothing to offer me and vice versa.


29 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:40 PM
New Comment

Partially enlightened means I understand the true nature of the problem you are trying to solve (bias) and almost everything you discuss is redundant to me.

I wouldn't call bias the main problem of our community.

Can you define what you mean with the term bias? 

At what date did your unbiased looking at what COVID-19 was doing lead you to conclude that you have to adapt your behavior because of COVID-19?

I have heard there was a debate in Tibet once, between a Chinese and an Indian Buddhist, on whether enlightenment can be instant (Chinese, Chan, Zen position) or whether it requires time and analysis (Indian position). Do you favor one side in this debate?

[Epistemic status (am I using this term right?): I am not a scholar, nor well versed in any school of Buddhism. My understanding comes from a combination of personal experience and insight cross-referenced with wikipidea articles]

I see Buddhism as split into two basic schools of thought:

The Sutrayana is the method of perfecting good qualities, where the Vajrayāna is the method of taking the intended outcome of Buddhahood as the path.

I would class that Indian Buddhist as Sutrayana and the Chinese one as Vajrayāna.

In simpler terms, one is getting there by taking 'the correct steps', and the other is getting there by understanding what 'there' is, setting it as the goal and leaving the means up to the unconscious mind.

Each approach has its limitations. Sutrayana is a lot of hard work. Vajrayāna is confounding to anyone who isn't ready for it. Sutrayana is the one that can be expressed in rational terms. Vajrayāna is mysterious.

My way is Vajrayāna, so my attitude is the same as the Chinese Buddist. I'm all like "Why are you working so hard? Just wake up and smell the manure!" But I can appreciate that my way isn't going to suit everyone, and for those who don't get it, learning by rote is better than nothing and will keep them safe until they are ready.

So, back to your question, it generally requires time and analysis, but it doesn't have to. Everyone is in the process of running a meaningless marathon to nowhere. They could just stop, but most will not stop unless you give them lots of bricks to carry.


Shit, I've realised there's more to this story. Even with my path, there is mmmm. Jeez this is a complex topic.

There is no inherent need for time. But, taking a long time over it may be preferred. Faster is not always better. The mind is full of shit. Looking at that shit is not comfortable. It becomes comfortable. The first time you see it you scream. The second time you wimper. The third time maybe you just cry a little. And so on until you're like "this is okay actually, I can live with this". And then when you've made peace with that, something else comes up from the mind. I'm not sure why anyone would want to rush that process. Enlightenment doesn't take the upsetting thing away. Enlightenment is the upsetting thing. Full enlightenment is when there is nothing left in our minds or anywhere that could possibly upset us.

Suffice to say, I'm not fully enlightened, and in no rush to be. Anyone who says they want to be fully enlightened instantly, doesn't know what enlightenment is.

Edit: I realise now, it's unclear whether those Buddhists were talking about full enlightenment, or just the first stage (stream entry). A lot hinges on that question. The Mind Illuminated talks about enlightenment as a sort of accident and the exercises merely a means of making oneself more accident prone. But you know what really makes you 'accident prone'? having someone else to whom that accident has already happened, shoving you when you least expect it.

Edit 2: It's all about trust really. If you don't trust your teacher, then you need to trust your own analysis, and analysis takes time.

How would one know that there is no some advanced form of hidden thought?

Why speak the emperor's name? Is it not better to cut out your tongue so you may speak eloquently?

There is no 'better'.

Speaking of enlightenment is the height of vulgarity.

I would rather reveal my own foolishness and be corrected, than hide it and keep it.

Speaking eloquently, I would have nothing to say.

By speaking at all, I reveal nothing but my own unenlightenment.

Leaving shit out in the sun, flies are attracted.

Mmm, the rabbit bounds under the full moon.

What makes your enlightenment partial? Have you only a partial mind?

Apparently I have no mind at all.

But what is it to have this mind of no?

I'm too drunk for this.

Then keep drinking until the reflection in your cup is you!

Good advice! Not that it's any business of yours.

Could you expand on what you mean by finding other people's suffering entertaining? Does it extend to all sorts of suffering, including, say, the suffering of people without access to healthcare dying of malaria or diarrhea? Or the experience of a parent watching their child die of diarrhea?

I'm glad you asked this question. I read my post to a friend who sees as I do, and she suggested that people would react very negatively to that part and it might explain the volume of downvotes. She has much greater insight into how normal humans think, and so I'm inclined to defer to her judgement on this.

It's quite an offensive idea isn't it.

I recommend you check out The Curse Of The Counterfactual.

Fear and guilt about suffering (whether perceived in ourself or someone else), do not undo suffering. Nor do they motivate us in a healthy way to act.

Humour liberates.

What drugs did you do to become enlightened?

If you're so unbiased, are you rich?

By rich, I assume you mean "having more money than I need". Thankfully no.

Time and attention, not money, are my most precious resources (I would not sell a minute of my time for all the money in the world). An excess in money would be a responsibility I would need to spend time and attention on, to determine its most helpful disposal. The more the excess, the greater the responsibility. Who wants that? Not me.

I would not sell a minute of my time for all the money in the world

That basically means that you don't spend any time to do things you want to archieve that could also be done by throwing money at a problem.

If you would have a personal chauffeur that reduces the time you need to get from place A to place B, it wouldn't have any value for you.

There's no knowledge that you are seeking that another person that you pay for research could help you acquire faster or teach you. 

If I understand your meaning, then yes, that is correct.

Edit: actually no, not quite. Those things happen to be true (I think), but it might not be because I wouldn't trade a minute of my time for them. Might just be a coincidence. I don't know.

This seems like you have biases that prevent you from effectively persueing goals by trading different resources against each other.

There's likely also a bunch of Dunning-Kruger going on. Learning from spiritual teachers would likely bring you further in the goals you present to have instead of online doing things alone and reading lay materials.  

the goals you present to have

What goals do you perceive me as having?

You speak about being on a journey towards freedom of suffering and it seems you see it as a spiritual path. 

Otherwise what are the goals you care about?

If you're so unbiased, do you have an excess of time and attention?

I'm not sure what "an excess of time and attention" would even mean.

Let's say every moment is a unit of time and attention. I get to choose what I spend it on, but I can't choose not to spend it. It will be spent, one way or another. Nor can I spend more than the time and attention of this moment. I can't get into time/attention debt, nor can I accumulate a stockpile of it, to spend later.

I suppose, running out of things on which to spend it - that would constitute "an excess of time and attention". That sounds, absolutely wonderful. Perhaps that's what full enlightenment is. Nothing to do, nothing to attend.

And I know intellectually that that's how it really is, but my remaining misperception (bias) makes it feel otherwise. My process of unlearning is not complete.

As perception is corrected, things I would previously have spent a lot of time and attention on, are either delt with quickly/efficiently, or do not arise at all. But that does not produce an excess of time and attention. All that means is that I spend my time and attention on something else, usually the next learning situation. That's how I ended up signing up for a Less Wrong account and posting here - I ran out of better things to do with my time and attention, and, well, I think Less Wrong is way cool in lots of ways. I haven't gotten over that (biased) impression yet. I often find talking to a community, a great way to learn enough about them to get over them. Then I will get to that point where I realise there's no more need spend any time and attention on Less Wrong, and I'll spend it on something else, and so on until I am fully enlightened or dead.

Basic (body) needs like money, housing, food etc obviously must be taken care of first. I wouldn't be spending any of my time here if I were in a situation that demanded I exchange some of my time for money.

I mean, excess time and attention would mean that you used your lack of bias to craft a life where you could put your time attention in places that you fundamentally enjoy.

That sounds to me like an expression of your own beliefs. You believe that bias and a lack of money/time/attention holds you back from crafting a life where you could put your time and attention in places that you fundamentally enjoy.

It's really the other way around. When you start to put your time and attention in places you fundamentally enjoy, your situation changes to support you in that (though it rarely seems that way at first). No crafting required.

Matter rearranges itself to suit whatever purpose the mind sets. Ultimately there is no matter, because there is no universe, only the mind and its projection. The universe is a bit like a dream. The dream we experience is never more or less than a symbolic representation of the content in the mind of the dreamer.

Just to check, are you making a claim like The Secret that without taking any actions, without expressing the contents of your thoughts in any way, without any sort of traditional "causal connection", your thoughts will shape the universe to get you what you want?

I think you have made a classical enlightenment mistake of failing to separate your experience of the world from the world itself.  The map is indeed not the territory, even when you're enlightened.