Savage Love Jul 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Hard Truths

Joe Newton



BTW not speaking with authority does not mean not speaking- you likely still have things to contribute to the discussion and sometimes a different perspective can illuminate the experiences of people who are bogged down in their own realities. But when you are told by people with authority on the topic that what you say (or aspects of it) are in conflict with their lived reality, then you can't fall back on cries of transphobia or claims that your experience in those cases (in abstraction usually) are equally as valid.

And what I say about self-awareness and a tendency to argue and compensate for insecurities or your own limitations, obviously I relate. Sometimes I'm in a mood to be a better person, usually not. And though Lava says this isn't therapy, it sometimes works out that way- I don't know how else people grow than by exploring the possibilities with other humans. I hope you have some of this going on in real life as well, with people who do love you.


Harriet @308, below is some free, succinct feedback,
from The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (a writing guide often used to teach writing to undergraduates)

In general, remember that paragraphing calls for a good eye as well as a logical mind. Enormous blocks of print look formidable to readers, who are often reluctant to tackle them. Therefore, breaking long paragraphs in two, even if it is not necessary to do so for sense, meaning, or logical development, is often a visual help.

As a rule, begin each paragraph either with a sentence that suggests the topic or with a sentence that helps the transition.


curious @312. Yes, I know it’s a far fetched theory. Of course they wouldn’t present in a similar way.. it’s called pretend, inventing a character. The llink is something I noticed early on with some specific word uses.
I concede I may be totally wrong.


I was open with you Harriet, when you first arrived. Over time I noticed inconsistencies with your story. I can’t now undo my perceptions.
Up to others here what they do of course.. ...
I don’t trust you.


It is a form of therapy EmmaLiz. It’s also a conversation. We are communicating around a topic, not ourselves. Truth is, EmmaLiz, I don’t always read your comments thru if they are too long. I skim. Sometimes sure, long comments are needed to express oneself.


There’s a bit of history between hunter and I curious. You weren’t on the thread then. I’m not just being weirdo here. And what set me off this time was hunter’s, ‘ birds of a feather,’ comment.
If it was to do with my mother’s dying and you lovely people giving me support, that’s plain nasty. Can’t believe hunter would stoop so low.


@315 EmmaLiz
"Life is for the living" is one of those phrases that seems quaint..."

You managed to breathe life into a phrase I would not utter in a thousand years. Yes death is certainly harder on the people who after it still exist. But as I'm sure you noticed I've focused upon 'dying', that time the as yet not departed person is still living, during which life could very well be far harder on them than on those who don't yet have a literal death to grieve.


Exactly the choice of words I couldn't put my finger on this morning, but had been in my mind last time I watched someone forced to die by starvation. I recall angrily saying something like 'society wouldn't (and doesn't) do this to a dog'.

@313 nocutename
"...accustomed to writing in jargon-drenched academese..."

Nothing makes for poorer communication than words one's audience doesn't know (the point of communication is to be understood), so I have little respect for jargon outside it's users.

I read an insane amount pre-teen; I practically devoured libraries. About 11-ish I noticed my vocabulary was so much greater than any adult I encountered, I realized further expansion would be of limited value.

@315 EmmaLiz
"...your academic ivory tower superiority bullshit is EXACTLY what makes you hard to understand or relate to..."

Honestly, I'd be exponentially less critical if Harriet's "academese" word choices haven't been so inapt. (By which I mean often making a poor choice of a highfalutin' word when many other words would be miles more appropriate.)

I'm wondering if Harriet can write far better by taking a little more time to do so, as Harriet must have done academically, else Harriet never would've gotten a doctorate or succeeded in law.

That does not mean I think you're smarter than those assembled here, Harriet. Or (to be clear) less smart, though it's seemed like you have some kind of communication challenge.

@317 lmr
LOL, and sound practical advice!

@321 LavaGirl
"There’s a bit of history between hunter and I curious."

I did read that somewhere; that in fact you're big-hearted and optimistic enough to tend to have a bit more patience than others when trolls arrive.

I want to believe I was wrong and he was (as you thought) referring to Harriet's BattleaxeGate. But he hasn't denied it (and apparently he's always skulking in some dark shadow under a bridge so I imagine he could).


For what it's worth, I read Hunter's stupid "birds of a feather" comment as his way of accusing the straight women or straight, cis women of piling on, that is, being in agreement about the reason for the woman's lack of sexual interest in her partner being somehow always the man's fault and being directly housework-related. This was confirmed for me in his comment on a different thread. The irony is that in his drive to paint all the women as being in league against the men, Hunter didn't actually read what any of us said.

I view Hunter as a kind of troll-light: he is a shit-stirrer, and frequently, when the conversation has died down he tries, extremely transparently, to toss out what he thinks will be a baiting topic; I'm always amused when no one takes the bait. He's an old sexist, endlessly trying to perpetuate a gender war, based on his extremely reductive interpretation of every single action performed by women as being arsenals in the ongoing battle of the sexes he insists is still and always being fought, in which women are the constant victors, as they exert their feminine wiles to make men victim to their own lust. (See his theory about why women over 40 frequently have short hair, or why women wear sun dresses or have visible bra straps.) In recent years, he's been an apologist of rape culture, a concept he claims not to understand. He's actually rather pathetic, and quite easily ignored. In some ways, both Dadddy and Sportlandia are his descendants.

Harriet, on the other hand, is a bird of a decidedly different feather, and I see no similarity at all between him/her/them/zim and Hunter, whether in terms of style, content, or agenda. Harriet may be many things, but I don't think he/she/they/ze is trying to stir things up.


Yup quick note to say that I know for a fact that the length and chaos (and sometimes transparent desire to rant and argue) limit the audience for my posts and reduces the number of meaningful interactions and learning experience that I get to have. But if I had to put thought into the organization of the posts, the word choice, the audience reception and then edit for all those things (skills that don't come easily to me) then it would not be such a crutch and distraction to post here, it would become work. Likewise, I have no problem with the fact that plenty of people skip me or skim me- I'm not egotistical enough (to refer to our other conversation) to think it really matters. I'm sure we all do some combination of skimming, skipping and reading carefully depending on the thread/topic/writer/our own moods, etc. In short, no prob Lava if you skip me or not, and though I'm sure there are plenty of tips I could use to be more clear and brief, I'm not gonna do it! :)


ah shit... by referring to our other conversation I meant the one about ego and the mind and death and all that, just to clarify unless it sounded like I was subtly calling others egotistical, and that's not what I meant- when I insult people I do it directly and clearly.


All good EmmaLiz. Interesting nocute, re hunter / Harriet.
Yes it is barbaric starving people to death. And we had to ask to sedate her so she doesn’t wake up and face again and again her body’s paralysis.


Births and deaths are transitions. Some are easier than others. I'm glad your mother has you there with her, LavaGirl.


@300 EmmaLiz: WA-HOOOO!!! Big, hefty congrats on scoring the Triple Hunsky!
May major good fortune sail in your way very soon. :)


@323 nocutename: Agreed about Hunter, and that Dadddy and Sportlandia are indeed, his rabid followers. I, too, am amused by how many besides you and me are no longer taking the bait anymore. I see it as that mentally, they're little boys with fragile egos who will post anything to get a rise, quite possibly to cover up their shortcomings (flaccidity?).
@326 LavaGirl: Thank heavens for the morphine. Hopefully this relieves your mother's pain. I'm sorry to learn of her paralysis. Big hugs, and bless you foe being with her, however difficult.


@329: Rats--there I go again with typos! And I can't blame it on red wine, either.
(Why Griz types better when comfortably numb, I don't know).
To LavaGirl, make that: "Big hugs, and bless you for being with her, however difficult."
Sincerest XO,


@300 EmmaLiz
"...why should they accept this? Rather than fight it tooth and nail and express their bitterness about the injustice of it?"

As you say there is no "should". But...

It is entirely possible to "fight" (er, do absolutely everything to avoid) something, and also "accept" what is.

What is, /is/; an inner state of non-acceptance of what is doesn't change what is. That you will die, will be an /is/. Sure that's an "injustice", and I won't disagree that it's a bitter one.

But an internal state can be an additional self-inflicted harm. Analogously to that being full of hatred inside has no effect upon it's target, but might not be the happiest thing for the hater to be full of. (Though I know haters will revel in their hatred and feel something like joy in that.)

Similarly a prolonged internal state of non-acceptance and bitterness.

"...intolerance type- it assumes there is a BEST WAY to experience the human condition."

Again, there is no "should". And no "best". But some things (including self-inflicted harm) are not optimally psychologically healthy. I hear you think that makes me intolerant. But just because I make a psychological diagnosis doesn't mean I don't accept it. I know that psychological change is at best difficult and might be impossible in a lifetime. People have perfect reasons for being who they are, and I love them all. That love includes feeling bad if they've harming themselves. And maybe saying so.


Well I'm generally suspicious of "psychology" anyway (which is not the same thing as thinking mental illness is suspect- it's very obviously quite real), and I think the idea that it's more "healthy" that one makes peace with the inevitability of death (which is different from accepting it as reality) is a very modern and Western idea. I reject it straight out, though I think it's fine for others, and you'll find centuries of art and mythology coming out on my side (as well as plenty of other approaches) so I'm not making a bizarre personal claim. In any case, my only real opinion here in terms of what others' think is a rejection of the romanticization that India is somehow more spiritual or that typically Buddhists (as opposed to monks) are somehow more accepting of death, etc. There's a reason why Buddhist mythology is full of bodhisattvas who become demon slayers, imagery of them descending into hell to gnash out and feast upon the entrails of their enemies.

More generally, I'm very glad to hate some people. Again, I personally reject the idea that I should find love and compassion for everyone regardless of what harm and evil they cause in the world. I'm not striving to achieve nirvana- it's not something householders can do in one birth anyway. The only who ever achieved it were those who were literally the mates of the Buddha himself, and even still not most of them. I'm not even striving to become a monk. I'm striving to be the most ethical and productive me I can be, given my flaws and my conditions in this world.

And I think Westerners who talk about striving for some sort of love for everyone, peace of everything, etc are the ones who are kidding themselves. Great to use that as a goalpost or a guiding principle, but if you really and truly believe that you will make peace with all evil and injustice in the world then you are setting yourself up for constant disappointment and failure, imo- though of course we all live with these things differently.

My approach has been to have awareness of these feelings, root them out, think of how they affect my actions. I don't know how much Westerners who talk about Buddhism have actually given though to the graduated training. Seems like they go straight to the higher level stuff, talking about compassion for everyone and loving everyone and acceptance of everything- really high level equanimity and detachment - while trying to be householders, living in this world. It's not possible, so the answer seems to be to cut themselves off from all the horrors- either materially (going on fancy retreats, living in nicest secure neighborhoods) or personally (removing themselves from "toxic" relationships, making sure they only engage in "positive thinking")- none of this is appealing to me. If I'm in this world as a householder, then it's not possible to be detached. That's why monks/nuns have to renounce the world- it's why it takes lifetime to develop that way. It's why householders are supposed to support (materially) the basic needs of the sangha- the idea is that one day you will also be there and need that support. But if you are still a householder, you can't spend your time detaching from samsara, cutting off all clinging. It would be unethical to do so- how would you be a good citizen? How would you be a member of a community or a family or in friendships? Best you can do is start to be aware of how things make you feel and then figure out how to let that affect your actions, a sort of constant monitoring to be sure that you are engaging ethically, that you are always learning and growing.

My feelings include a lot of hatred. I could list off the people I hate- they are all cruel and powerful people who harm millions and the world would be a better place if they were dead. I hate them. I'm not trying to change that about myself and learn to love them. I'm trying to change the world that produces them in the first place, and I'm trying to monitor my own feelings, see them, acknowledge them, figure out how to channel that rage into a place that is productive. I've had some success, mostly failure, but the failure isn't due to my hatred but rather other things in my life.

And if someone who loves me says this rage is causing me harm, I'd find them very condescending. Unless they can show me a better way that doesn't involve simply ignoring the problems (think of something else!) or renouncing the world to join a monastery, then they don't have much to add.

Empathy isn't trying to help people or change their feelings. It's allowing people their feelings and showing that you see them, feel them.


What I mean is, the sort of detachment that would be required for me to accept a really evil person and find it within me to feel compassion for them would also require me to not get emotionally worked up over the harm they cause- the actual evil in the world, schoolbuses full of children blown to pieces, concentration camps, the whole cruelty of the modern world. And I do not want to be detached from that.

Sometimes I think Westerners who say they are Buddhists don't really dig into the depth of the first noble truth.

I am a Westerner too of course and I don't even know if I really believe any Buddhism honestly. I'm of two minds about it- that's probably the deeper conflict.


Thanks nocute. Yes, my mother is hanging on.
She has been a stubborn and proud woman, in the family I mean. Different woman in public.
It’s only now, NOW, as she lies semi unconscious and staving to death that I’ve seen open ness and vulnerability in her eyes.


Having hatred in your body only hurts you, EmmaLiz. And there sure are best ways to do things.. my mother’s last two years and now, are not the best ways to prepare for and then die. She has been like a child, and that’s not from any dementia. She has had none. It was from her being angry because her body was failing. And she made us all pay.
So instead of using the last two years to heal and enjoy and find peace with her story, her life.. she pushed it all out. Like she could hold death at bay that way..
Nobody is romanticising India. I know a lot of Buddhist who go back and forth to there.. and from their experiences parts of India are amazingly spiritual places.
I don’t hate. I don’t want those negative energies pulsing thru my body. That there are people in the world bent on destroying other sentient beings and the earth, points to their deluded minds, how is hating them going to change anything. Be wary, point out repeatedly their inhumanity etc.


@332 EmmaLiz
I like people who think differently. (I've often thought I do, and that that's interesting.) And so soon after you taught me not to expect to find common ground to connect upon, of course I'm hesitant to ask but when you say your

"...approach has been to have awareness of these feelings, root them out, think of how they affect my actions...figure out how to channel that rage into a place that is productive"

I wonder if what comes out of this process is still exactly the same "hatred" I'm thinking of, or if you transmute it somehow so it's not exactly the same?

"...find love and compassion...striving for some sort of love for everyone...cut themselves off from all the horrors...are the ones who are kidding themselves. Great to use that as a goalpost or a guiding principle, but if you really and truly believe that you will make peace with all evil and injustice in the world then you are setting yourself up for constant disappointment and failure..."

Personally, I neither strove for nor set any of this as a guiding principle, so for all I know doing so indeed is as you say pointless.

I stumbled upon it. After years of meditating and otherwise cultivating awareness, I was surprised to literally /feel/ oneness with (and resultantly love for) everyone and everything.

I'm very political. And I think it's absolutely possible to love a person and not accept their actions, to fight and be angered by their actions (for one example enough to go back in time to kill Hitler). I also do try to process that anger, because otherwise I've discovered it's gonna medically kill me.

Please know that I know I'm as flawed as anyone. I've shared here that I have childhood trauma that it appears I'd need to spend half my time and money to try to resolve. I wish I had half my time and money to so so, because it's been very harmful to me.


EmmaLiz @332, thank you for your words & insights.

I stumbled into meditation a couple of years ago, adjusting to polyamory and working through some difficult feelings. Daily, unstructured meditation has really helped me accept that I don't control other people and I don't have to please other people.

It's tempting to tell people they could benefit from meditation (like if you knew of a free & effective pain reliever, you'd want to let people know!), but I also am very aware that I rejected meditation for thirty years for whatever reasons, and then when I needed relief urgently, I found it.

So maybe everyone can find it if they need it.

Or maybe it's worth mentioning it occasionally to one's friends & family, in case someone is interested in hearing more.

I think you are right that Buddhism doesn't tell us how to live in the world, loving flawed humans, taking political action, participating in our communities.

But it can't be wrong to discuss a technique which provides some relief from suffering, even though it doesn't provide all of life's answers.

Or if it is wrong, then I don't want to be right.


@337 EricaP
"...I rejected meditation for thirty years for whatever reasons, and then when I needed relief urgently, I found it."

My story too! I almost never meditated until I had no choice; medical issues that were the worst thing that ever happened to me made my life horrible. Now I wouldn't have had it any other way because thanks to that nightmare period I've had growth it didn't look like I'd have any other way.

Oh, can I take this opportunity please to clarity my "...meditating and otherwise cultivating awareness..."; there /much/ reading, and all sorts of meditativeness including just trying to get off the hamster-wheel of my thoughts and be more 'present' in the moment.


@338 p.s. "...I wouldn't have had it any other way..."
In fact, now I think "the worst thing that ever happened to me" is also the best thing that ever happened to me.


@334 LavaGirl: I am so sorry. I know that what you and your mother are experiencing together is so difficult. It was for me, too, in dealing with the loss of my parents. I kept wishing I could just give them each a magic hug and kiss and that instantly all their pain would immediately go away. Sending more hugs your way from my beloved VW and me.


curious2 @338 "just trying to get off the hamster-wheel of my thoughts"

Exactly. Learning that I can control what I think about (at least to some extent) was very reassuring.


@312. curious. I don't write to bewilder or displease anyone, in any context. Even if a person's remarks on here are dashed off, or written in some ultimate sense to please themselves, it would still be right for me to take some account of the feedback my comments have received (eg unclear, insubstantial, overly academic, proposing unwarranted scenarios or counter-narratives, interpolating features of my own life or emotions). So I will look out for those tendencies and seek reasonably to suppress them.

@313. Nocute. You're now saying that there are male and female ways of being, and that this gross difference owes to culture as well as nature. These claims are so anodyne (and would be even more so, in a context of academic feminism) that it's nearly impossible to imagine anyone disagreeing with them. I am pleased you grant the existence of GQ people, who may not fit prescriptions of either male or female identities (characteristics, typical features, required or definitive features etc.). When I wrote 'I do not know whether you believe...', I was asking a genuine question--to which I didn't know what your response would be.

I can't make you like me, or (especially) make you find the motions of my mind natural or intuitive. But I'd hope we could converse civilly, on the few occasions the broad orientation of a question on a thread might require it. If, by chance, we are setting out the most full-dress version of opposed positions--or if, for example, I just want to offer a hat-tip to a view of yours that's especially trenchant, as in your view of the guy who couldn't bear having a child by his mistress that he didn't raise--then, yes, it's appropriate for us to address each other. Your saying you won't read my views (as you did before), as an authoritative and well-respected poster, has the effect of setting limits on my participation in the discussion. Do not worry; I will not address you to thresh out fine points--I know you don't enjoy it, and (very probably) the considerations I might raise are not interesting or instructive to many people.

I feel you have perhaps (?--not sure) rowed back on remarks where you insisted on gender-fixity, or suggested some forms of experience were essentially gendered. Didn't you once say that there were some things that Dan didn't understand about women's experience, being a man? Do you hold to that? I very much like the idea of there being a universally inclusive place for the discussion of relationship issues and sex, gender and cultural politics, not phobic to any group, and where the authority of the convener is a matter of his (in this case) knowledge and understanding, not personal experience or identification.

(Incidentally, I never suggested that 'battleax' was not a gendered or age-specific term).


@314. Erica. OK. The place I don't want to go wrong, for obvious reasons, is in my advice to lw s with a problem. I'll make more of an effort to put my sense of what they should do front and center--and hope that anyone with deep-seated reservations about my thinking style gets back setting me right on these substantive issues.


@315. Emma. That wasn't my 'hypothetical fantasy'; that was my actual life, as I understood it. A GQ person can be only romantically attracted to persons of one gender.

I think a lot of the time we've been at cross-purposes. For my part, I'm now going to engage with your points in the briefest, cleanest and most blunderbuss ways, or not speak at all.


@315. Emma. I'm pleased to put on record that I don't think I'm better than anyone else--not through my lifelong comfortable circumstances (correct) or expensive education. Nor do I feel that my characterisation of anyone's life should carry ANY authority just because of the way I describe it. In fact I spent 7-8 years of my life in an ex-urban area, deliberately and on my partner's wishes--though I was going in and out of the city a lot, for a job I was supposedly not doing.

@317. lmr. OK, shorter paragraphs.

@319. Lava. Apropos your saying you distrust me ... I'm not inviting you, or any reader, into my life. It's possible that when I first commented, I supposed I was going to write in my feminine persona more than I have--ie I've written more integrally, as my GQ self--and that you're picking up on something. If you're going to engage at all, or if I want you to engage, it's on my advice to lw s, which--in headline form--from now on I'm going to keep pithy.

Wishing you strength and your mother a good passage.


Yes curious and Erica, finding a way to quell the monkey mind has been a life changer for me.
Thanks Grizelda.. sitting with mum now. She’s groaning, stopping and starting breathing. It’s horrible , horrible. I did flash on putting a pillow over her face.. to end the torture she’s going thru.
Of course I wouldn’t..


/ Harriet /
It continues to be my observation that Harriet's writing has taken a big leap, has suddenly become much more skillful. As such I find myself reading it.

@346 LavaGirl
I'm so sorry your mum is going through this torture.

As I've mentioned a couple times recently WRT the slow fade of (notably, as it progresses, unconscious) starvation, I agree it's horrible. Barbaric. I'm so glad California law has changed; before it did...

For one family member it finally ended when a different hospice worker started to visit, one with a hushed reputation as an angel of mercy. Some extra morphine, and less than a day later my loved one's unnecessary nightmare was over. At some point if someone subtly signals such an opportunity I'd take it (I'd been looking for it and furious it was absent for over a week), just as I'd hope someone would do for me were I to similarly be beyond participation in the decision.


I'd really like to add more, apparently this is something I didn't know that I need to talk about so I will have a long think about that. Thanks for the conversation.

But I am re-roofing my house and it's too hot to do that and think. I just wanted to clarify that meditation can be amazing, as any major healthy lifestyle change can be. But it's not synonymous with Buddhism (for those who seem to be saying it is? or I'm perceiving it that way in the context of this conversation?) I agree it can be very helpful on its own for all the reasons listed up above and I'm a strong supporter- when I had a practice it did help me quite a bit and I've lately been avoiding it again so it's interesting to hear that a couple of you did for years. I wonder why? Just cause it's hard, like going to the gym? Interesting.

But in a Buddhist context, there is a graduated training, and meditation (and different kinds at different stages) is just one tool that is supposed to be taken within the context of several others, both practices and learning. In fact, in my instruction (again which was Theravada, so maybe others are different) meditation as relaxation or stress relief is considered something very different than meditation as a part of a graduated training. And while it's harmless and even helpful to meditate out of any larger context for it's health benefits, if you do it too much- totally detached from any other context- it can sort of cause a self-hypnosis. But I mean the people who do it for hours and hours a day for weeks on end with no other training or mindfulness guidance or spiritual teachings. For example, look at the TM people- the ones who were following around the maharishi like zombies convinced they could fly. I think the hours they spent in specific TM meditation every day was a part of that- they are just hypnotizing themselves.

As for the why I'm linking these things to the larger conversation... OK I'll try to be as to-the-point as I can.

For most of us, if you truly expand your feelings of empathy and concern for others, it is going to including bringing on a lot of suffering and pain. LIkewise, if your own personal experience of the world is wide and you stay open-hearted about it rather than hardening yourself or being emotionally corrupted, it likewise includes bringing on a lot of suffering and pain.

There are some really and truly amazing people in the world who are able to face those things without telling themselves stories to make it seem better who still manage to be open-hearted enough to feel love and compassion for the people causing the bulk of that suffering and pain.

But those people are exceptionally rare, so few I can really not think of a clear example right now from contemporary times.

The truth is, that for most of us, these things go hand-in-hand. And my experience is that people who truly say they feel love for everyone and have no hatred in their hearts for anyone, actually haven't experienced or understood or internalized the suffering I'm referring to in the first place. Because it's a deeper thing than just all-you-need-is-love.

So a lot of these practices- when I see wealthy white suburbanites chanting about demon slayers in hip shambala centers or people talking about developing love for their enemies, I feel like it's easy to convince yourself you are having some spiritual development because you haven't really had to grapple much with the depth of the first noble truth in the first place- the extent to which there is suffering in the world. It's easy to say that when you are thinking of your boss or of an abstract like cancer or some asshole in your personal life. Harder to do when you are faced with the real evil of the world. Come to India and have a spiritual experience- sit in an ashram with other westerners. Then maybe go look at the hundreds of people right now buried alive in landslides. I've had people on my case load whose children were hacked to death with machetes right in front of their faces. Sit down in front of something like that and really feel it as best you can, then tell me you love everyone. Listen to what Elliot Abrams did in the contra wars, then listen to him now, still in power on your TV, planning more evil- actually feel what it is like to come home and find your children beheaded, then picture this man eating out at Trump's resort planning new wars and tell me you are developed enough to do both- develop actual compassion for those suffering and also love for Eliot Abrams. I hate him.

My point here is that the journey can't go from just getting on in normal life and living in this world to learning to love your enemies. It's not a straight line. The more you develop empathy and compassion for others, the more you get in touch with the depth of emotions in humanity, the ugly emotions will come with it- it is the flip side to this. Those emotions are also deep.

And I suppose that with a lot of work and a lot of training if you are really focused on it, you can push through the other side and develop so much equanimity that you can do both- actually feel the suffering, and not feel the hate, develop love for everyone. But this requires detachment. It's the third noble truth. To hold both at the same time and see them as the same requires detachment. I'm not going to kid myself that either a) I'm going to achieve this, or b) it's desirable to someone still living in this world.

I think a lot of people who say they will are kidding themselves. They aren't facing the suffering in the first place. Or they don't understand it.

During a graduated training, it's OK because you are also practicing mindfulness, monitoring those aspects of the five aggregates that I mentioned above. It's wrong headed in the first place to say you shouldn't feel hatred- it is there. It arises in your mental formations and perceptions. You see it, decide what to do with it. What made it arise? What did not arise because it did? How do you perceive it? It's there now in you, what do you do with it? Then you think of these things in others too as you interact.

But to think I could extinguish those feelings altogether? No. And I doubt you can either.


OMFG Lava, that's terrible. I hope they are keeping her so sedated that she doesn't know it. It's hard to watch people die. I don't know why we treat animals better. Similar thing happened recently in my house- it took almost a week. But she didn't know. Curious hospice workers are real saints sometimes.


Lava I'm sorry if you mentioned it and I missed it, but does your mom have a hospice worker? Is in-home hospice a thing in Australia? Or is your mom in the hospital?


"Curious hospice workers are real saints sometimes."

Yes. And the one I mentioned (and for another example a doctor I saw on another deathbed) was accepting personal risk by breaking California's old law in order to do the right thing.

I'd love to do what a friend of mine who volunteers at hospice does (recommending "Who Dies" was just one of many many ways she's helped me in my journey).

I don't really know where to begin. For one remember (as you helpfully reminded me very recently) that different people look at things differently and think about things differently.


In this discussion I continue to wonder how much we're talking differently about the same thing. But "extinguish" is an interesting concept. For example...

No one (or as you say almost no one) can extinguish anger from their life. There will always be a seed of it, or if you like a button that can be pushed. But whenever the seed gets needn't ride it (the seed's growth) like a snowballing avalanche. (Just as one isn't forced to remain on the hamster-wheel of thought, if a hamster-wheel-of-anger grows from the anger-seed one isn't forced to remain on that either.)

Maybe you're right "hatred" is always there (like that anger seed); whereas I imagine you noticed upthread I called that "anger" /at-their-behavior/. Or it's possible I'm better positioned that you to see that the way I'm describing it is not impossible and is correct for some. In either case it seems to me a subtle enough difference as to be a rather small conflict.

If there were a hell, for me it would be roofing in mid-August in Texas. Be safe and hydrated, EL!


I am specifically talking from a Buddhist perspective since you and Lava (and erica?) are interested in Buddhism or are Buddhists.

The word nirvana means "to be extinguished" so this is why I used that word. We aren't having a conflict but also what distinguishes what we are saying is not subtle. We aren't saying the same thing with different words. I really don't know how to better explain it though without taking a long time to think about it and present it more organized which doesn't come naturally to me and I can't do it right now anyway. Maybe one day you will write about your experiences of collective consciousness and I will be more clear about a graduated training.


In sanskrit, "nirva" is the verb "to blow out" and the -na at the end is like making it a state. So being extinguished is the translation of the word. The Buddha described enlightenment as nirvana- being blown out. So you'll hear people say "nirvana means enlightenment" and I think sometimes they think that means "becoming wise" or something. But what it means is becoming extinguished, blown out. Just FYI.


EmmaLiz @348

"I've lately been avoiding it again so it's interesting to hear that a couple of you did for years. I wonder why? Just cause it's hard, like going to the gym?"

I used to avoid it because I thought it was bullshit and delusional. "Of course people can't clear their minds, or at least I know I can't" -- that's how I thought about it.

Then I did some cognitive behavioral therapy and became more conscious about my thoughts.

And then I read that meditation can just mean taking the time to practice focusing, and noticing when I lose that focus, and nudging my mind back. That seemed doable, so I gave it a try. And, whoa, it was fun, easy, pleasurable, all the good things.

If you used to find it worthwhile and now it feels like a chore, I wonder if your subconscious is hiding something from your conscious mind, and making meditation seem unpleasant because it might lead to you uncovering the secret. Feel free to ignore that suggestion if it's wildly off-base.


I'm not striving for nirvana, enlightenment, extinguishment, or world peace. I do find it calming to remember that I'm just a bunch of atoms and so is everyone else.

My awareness that I'm just a bunch of atoms hasn't, in practice, interfered with eating, bathing, loving those I love, and acting as a human in the world. But it does take the edge off uncomfortable emotions. That's my experience.


@352 EmmaLiz
Far be it from me to avoid talking (to avoid stuff I don't wanna do).

I wouldn't say I'm a Buddhist. But it (and Buddhist Psychology) is a system I have at least as much affinity for as any other. (I can't imagine buying into any system.)

Ok, maybe not "subtle" or semantic. But what it is is something neither of us can know who's correct about.

I can see how one might hope that my promised writing on consciousness might inform this new discussion, but I doubt it will.

I only mentioned a felt oneness upthread because with it, hating others would be equivalent to hating myself. Er, though now that you mention it I do find it easier to be /angry/ at what they do than at what I do; maybe I simply have more information about my motivations.

Hey here's a relevant poem that moved me:


EmmaLiz, my mother is in aged care, where she has been for just on two years. We offered for her to have a death doula.. ages ago.. she declined.
It’s a good facility, mum has money. The nurses and aids are amazing. I’ve only seen women/ womb havers, and many of them are Asian. Lovely generous hard working caring and beautiful young women.


I am a pick and choose Buddhist. My training has been with Tibetan Lamas, and Tibetan Buddhism has many floating around deities, like Christians.
Same as with curious, it’s the psychology I respond to, the concept of mind training. Karma can be a hard one, because the theory depends on past lives as well as this one. Say a child is raped, how can they have brought this karma on themselves? From last lives, it is said.
I like the notion of being fully present in the moment, which is all we ever have. That the mind can be trained to stop it from reacting with anger etc, the destructive emotions. That the mind is clean/ clear, and we get afflicted with delusions, which we can train ourselves out of.
Right mind. Right speech, ha. I don’t get an A++ for that one. . Right behaviour.


EL @ 348. I don’t ‘love’ everyone, I don’t have hatred in my heart and I’ve suffered and know suffering.
Losing a child/ my eldest son died in ‘04 from a heart attack, at 32 yrs old/ must be the most extreme emotional pain imaginable.
I don’t hate and I don’t feel anger. Being assertive etc, is not anger. Anger, in Buddhism, is the worst delusion of mind. It clouds our compassion and empathy.
Yes, the graduated path, and using meditation/ study etc to help achieve higher states of consciousness is the focus.
Shambhala.. not a good example. Lots of sexual misconduct and abuse accusations happening in that organisation.


My mother has just died.... about to wash her body with my sister.
Thank you dear internet buddies for being there. Much love.


@360 LavaGirl: Sending big hugs to you, with love and heartfelt condolences over the sad losses of your mother and son.
Thank you for sharing your Buddhist beliefs. I agree that anger and hatred are unhealthy. I am amazed, while dealing with service connected PTSD that people ask me about seeking revenge. Why? When I left my abusive ex-spouse (who I met while in the service), he was so filled with self loathing he punished himself far worse than I ever could. We've gone our separate ways, and blessedly have since moved on.
Peace be with you and your family, and know you have a Yank sister and a German Love Bug sending our love across the Pacific.


You're in my thoughts, LavaGirl.

I've enjoyed hearing all the different perspectives on Buddhism in the thread, and was glad to see yours as well.




Whereas I used to say I didn't have anger, a few years ago I looked deeper and realized I still have it below my surface awareness, and still need to work on processing it to keep that stealthy bugger from severely harming my health. An acupuncturist mentioned it in my pulse; it's really not easy to work on processing something I'm barely aware of!

Now to LavaGirl: I'm /so/ sorry you lost your mum and your son. Please take care. I'm happy that your mum's recent ordeal is now in the past.


@342: No, I haven't "rowed back" anything. I asked you before to find and link to the comments you think I made which made you doubt that I believed in the existences of GQ people, and you didn't, but have now decided that the position I took in my comment @313 must be different from that I originally espoused--but it's not. One of the reasons I asked you to provide the proof of your claim is that it didn't sound like me. Furthermore, your original (mis) characterization of me was as someone who is "transphobic," not someone who doesn't believe in the existence of gender queer people. While I don't think I am either of those things, they are not the same thing. This is a classic example of the frustration I have in trying to have a discussion with you: you constantly shift the terms, redraw the lines, change definitions. This is why I consider it a useless endeavor for me to interact with you.

I believe I have always been civil with you--I don't typically resort to name-calling, but if I have been rude or disrespectful I apologize--but choosing to not interact with you most of the time doesn't constitute incivility. You say: "your saying you won't read my views (as you did before), as an authoritative and well-respected poster, has the effect of setting limits on my participation in the discussion," and I have to laugh at the absurd amount of influence you think I (or any other poster here, including Dan) has over the minds and views of the assemblage. No one has set limits on your participation in any discussion, and you seem to be as prolific a commentor as I am. If you've been holding back because you assume that some sort of limit has been imposed on your power of free speech and participation in the comments section, I beg you to ignore the restrictions you think I've put on you and just hold forth.

I don't know who reads whom and who routinely ignores whom, but isn't that everyone's individual right? Part of the reason I have an avatar is to make it easier for people who know they find my writing irritating can just skip right over. I know there are plenty of people who find me tedious and long-winded and I'm sure they choose to not read my comments, which is their absolute right. Indeed, much as I appreciate Mr. Ven's comments sometimes, I am utterly lost when he starts making references to Rumpole or a few other characters/books, and I don't follow tennis at all, so when I see that his post is starting to invoke names I don't know, I simply stop reading the rest of the comment. Is that me being uncivil to him? When I told you I wasn't going to read your comments, it wasn't meant to be a dismissal of you; it was meant to say, "let's stop this kind of interaction, because it drives me crazy." I am interested in conversations, discussions. I am always interested in learning, and though I haven't participated in the Buddhism discussion, I have found it fascinating. But I have yet to have an interaction with you that wasn't purely frustrating from beginning to end, and that's not how I choose to spend my time here. I have no ill-will towards you; I just have found it fruitless to try to discuss something with you.

As for your defense of your use of "battle-axe," here's the history of it in this discussion.

@142, you said," I see that Bi's most informative commentators are two out of the three people--the three transphobic battleaxes, I say with a smile on my face--who took such aggravated exception to me, despite my politeness, that they emotionally asked me to refrain from addressing them and have made a point of declaring they don't read my posts. 25 years ago, it was groundbreaking for a gay man to presume to offer advice ecumenically on the travails of straights, bis and gays (and others). My reflection is that we're still not at the stage re transphobia and exclusively-felt cis-identification where a trans person (an expert, someone eminently more qualified than me) would be accepted as giving across-the-board advice." (Ironically, I didn't initially read that, as I typically skip your comments.)

That prompted curious2 to respond @143: "A point resting upon that some women "took such aggravated exception to [you]...that they emotionally asked [you] to refrain from addressing them" isn't strengthened by your calling them "battleaxes" (regardless of your facial expression).
"A woman, who is nasty, overbearing, mean, pompous, arrogant, a selfish busybody, aggressive, disagreeable, or any combination of these. A battleaxe is usually an older woman, and often somewhat unattractive. The standard dictionary definition does not address looks, but one seldom hears a beautiful woman being called a battleaxe, no matter how disagreeable she is.""

And @150, responding to LavaGirl's accurate comment that "battle-axe" is ageist:

"And a gendered insult. Which, Harriet, is not a good look for anyone let alone someone who, as I understand it, has rightfully chosen not to be gendered themself. (By which I mean how convenient it appears to sling a type of mud one is immune to.)"

I provided the dictionary definitions for "battle-axe," because it seemed to me that someone who claims civility wouldn't knowingly have used a gendered, ageist insult, but now you claim that you knew how gendered, ageist, and offensive a slur it is, and you appear to stand by it.

You call me a "BATTLE-AXE" then complain that I've been "uncivil" to you? I say, "show me where."

But no need to look, because you've provoked me to it. I'll provide you the evidence you need: Harriet, fuck you and fuck off. Since I'm apparently the mistress of the column, I decree that no one should read any of your comments ever again.


@LavaGirl: I'm sorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing.


@365 nocutename
I've never seen nocutename display any of the qualities which define the word Battleaxe. In fact I think she's been the antithesis of that. She's reasonable, tactful and very well-mannered.

She has genuine strength (nothing for a woman to be called a Battleaxe for), and it is in her brilliance and wisdom, and her articulate presentation of it. I guess some could simply be intimidated by strength, but that's on them.

I knew a paranoid shit-stirrer on another forum once who said that something I wrote changed everyone's minds about him. But that's silly; everyone else on the forum knew him as well as I did, and thus had their own individual takes that I by no means held the power to over-write with mine.

Probably a tangent:
By definition everything we think is just our opinion, and I think there's no reason anyone (including women!) should feel the need to qualify whatever they say with "I think" because I think that goes literally without saying since it can be inferred at all times.


I dunno Curious. Sometimes we are not describing things we think so much as describing what things are- and unless you mean to get really metaphysical about it, that's different. When I say "I think" I usually mean my interpretation or belief of something, which is different than what's true. Interesting you should bring this up because I was rereading our last conversation about Buddhism last night and it seemed like our point of miscommunication was on this issue. When I say "Theravada Buddhism teaches this..." it's not what I think- it's what the tradition says and teaches. What I think about it? I'm not sure really. I think there's some of that going on up above in this conversation too. I'm probably not being clear in differentiating what the practice teaches with how I interpret it- those aren't the same thing. The one is objective. The other is subjective. Then of course there's the third question of whether or not any of this is actually TRUE which I THINK is unknowable anyway and not interesting to me. But now we're in the weeds! Pass the joint, man.

Lava, I'm sorry about your loss, also glad for the relief for her and your family. Does this make you the matriarch of your family now?

Erica... the reason I was rereading my conversation from last year with Curious is because of what you wrote. Yes that's exactly why I'm avoiding so many things. Yikes. I'll have to give a long think about all of that soon. There's a lot of changes for us this summer, and I should work on making new habits. I'm avoiding it, and you are so right as to why. I always thought CBT was Buddhism distilled for modern psychology.

Auntie, yup I think revenge is useless too. The energy needed to seek it plus the consequences- nothing but pointless destruction for a satisfaction that isn't going to be real anyway. I'd like to claim to dismiss vengeance as an ethical stance, but the truth is that Im just too lazy. PTSD is some serious shit though- hard stuff to get through, hope you get all the support you deserve.


BTW when I said re-reading, I meant the conversation we had last year about metaphor and doctrine. Not this one which is more about ourselves and approaches to deaths etc.


"and I think there's no reason anyone (including women!) should feel the need to qualify whatever they say with "I think""

I agree it's not grammatically necessary. And I often edit my sentences to remove phrases like "I think." But it's worth noting that "I think" or "I believe" can soften a blunt statement, like a smile sometimes does in person. Words can be useful beyond their literal contribution to the sentence.


Like if I say that the new immigration bill will limit the number of legal immigrants who have a path to citizenship, this is a fact. If I say "I think this is unfair...", it's an opinion. If I say "I think the bill will limit..." then I'm indicating that I'm not really sure what the bill says.

To your more general point and to Erica's contribution, I think (not sure, so appropriate use) this is similar to how people use "I feel like" or "I need you to"- we put these things in front of statements or commands to soften them. I'm not sure how I think about it!

But here's an interesting little tidbit. I just did a search of the use of "I think" on this page, and No Cute's post at 365 doesn't use it at all. It's pretty clear and to the point, organized- no need to ramble on about opinions when making a concise final statement I guess?


I agree. Usually I go on much longer when I ramble through those weeds, such as:

Philosophically speaking, no being has access to Objectivity. Everything I think is Subjective.
(But maybe I should stop pretending that has anything to do with how I should write.)

I agree it's stretching it to say that includes when we state facts (even in today's world where there are so many made up facts flying around the polici-sphere)...but for all someone knows they might state a fact who's actual parent was a brain tumor in their head or something instead of reality.

Congrats on the x69!

Given how much of the enormity of this thread is my fault, I think I well-deserve to have personally hit absolutely zero of it's auspicious numbers.


Since no one is bothering with this thread any more that doesn't want to be here, Curious, you shouldn't feel there is any fault to deserve, and instead I suggest you make 26 posts in succession (perhaps post your collective consciousness screed you've dangled in front of my eyes) and then claim your quadruple hunsky.

Otherwise give us a good spell caster testimonial and the powers that be will swoop in and shut down the thread once and for all.


@370 EricaP
I think you're right, I think I should say "I think" more. I think that in our culture males are over-socialized to speak forcefully, and I think I may be saying "I think" less than I should towards that end. Thank you!

@373 EmmaLiz
I will write the consciousness thing eventually, but it won't be a screed and the "collective" nature of consciousness is only a sub-theme of what I've promised. (The case I set out to make is more generally around the impacts of consciousness outside--nowhere near--the body. I'll also preemptively admit that for all I know it's [quoting Pan Sapien @] "life energy" [or chi] controlled by consciousness that does the doing at distance from the body. Sorry this is too cryptic, may as well forget about it 'til I get to it.)

Seriously, I have no desire to seek auspicious numbers.


Well I'll read it happily when you do. I'm the a cat and your "promise" is a laser pointer.

Regarding auspicious numbers, the truth is that you can make all that shit up. And therefore, I declare that 374 is the most auspicious of all Savage Love comment numbers. I base this upon the fact that 3 stands for GGG, 7 stands for the erogenous zones, and 4 stands for the gonads involved in a coupling. All three digits add up to 14 which themselves add up to 5 which stands for the five sense which good lovers should engage in any sexual encounter. Finally wikipedia tells me that in the year 374 Halley's comet was recorded passing closest to earth, symbolizing our hope that icy cold bodies passing close to our bright sun, Dan, will flare up with warmth and beauty once again - though hopefully without releasing any gas. So you win the award for the most auspicious number in our community, ever.


Clever EmmaLiz.@375.
No, I’m not the new Matriarch, haha. I am though trying to bring all my training to bear on warring sides, of a four daughter family where two sisters coupled with two brothers. I’ve come down with flu like symptoms and all I want to do after this week with my mum, poor darling, is hide out.
But a funeral and pictures and stories have to be dealt with.
I think you and my mum would have liked each other, she didn’t want to leave, even at ninety eight, she was still hungry to have more life.
Mum died soon after mid day, on the day after the evening I described above. Her loud groans I now realise was her version of Dylan Thomas
Do not go gently into the night
Rail, Rail, against the dying of the light.
my mind is sludge, I think those are the words.


Me and my battle axe sisters, or my battle axe sisters and I, are, with other women here, Harriet, much too self assured and cluey to put up with your gobbly gook.
Oh it’s because you’re all transphobic
Oh it’s because xyz.
No Harriet, it’s because you don’t write from your centre, and all the jumping about is tedious.
Up to you if you want to learn how to join this community not up to us to accomodate you.
Women here don’t play that game anymore with men, which you are some of the time, right? Like when you share your gay perspective rather than your trans one.


Gay male perspective.


Harriet, I am a cis woman and have no issue with that. Others can be non binary, trans, genderqueer, etc, and I have no issue with them either. Stop trying to homogenise humanity to suit your perspective.


@369 EmmaLiz: WA-HOOOOO!!!! Congratulations for scoring the rare, highly coveted Triple Hunsky + Lucky @69 Award!! Bask in the decadence and abundant glory. :)

WOW---almost 400 comments in this thread! :)


@365. nocute. Well, the remarks you may (or may not) have historically made that led to my suspecting you of transphobia were:

1) that men had more in common with other men (in particular, gay men had more in common with straight men) than they did or could with women. (Not that this is transphobic in itself--but I could wish someone to be more careful, in the sense of saying e.g. 'many transwomen start out with a male identity or self-conception, but find their identification with women is so strong that they are moved to transition, or to alter their gender as they would want others to take it');

2) that the primary 'sorting mechanism' into binary gender was testosterone levels;

3) that there were certain aspects of 'what it's like to be a woman' (possibly in its full socio-cultural context) that were only open to women to understand, such that Dan Savage had a tendency to misconstrue them; you said his column would benefit from being supplemented by a female advice-giver. Again, this is not transphobic in itself--but remarks of this kidney give the impression that by 'women', 'ciswomen' is meant. Evidently the idea of a (cis)female back-up is not transphobic; Dan calls in experts in aid all the time. The doubt you have about the capacity of anyone's understanding, or knowledge, being able to 'cross' to an imaginative inhabiting of the other gender would strike me as a bit phobic, or maybe trans-skeptical--but I would be using the word rather loosely. I might say, jokingly, that you don't set much store by Virginia Woolf....

Now I cannot remember when, in what month, in response to what column, you said these things. It's possible I've garbled them entirely; and also that you were making emphatic points in a particular context, and that you would not insist on the same ideas as generalities. When you say plainly now that you grant the existence of GQ, gender-indeterminate, agendered and bigendered people, I take it as a retraction of point 1). For all I know, you could have offered (something like) 1) only in the context of cishet dating. Even so, with your clarification it's nice to be acknowledged.

I do not think you want to be transphobic, or to be thought of as transphobic. My reading of your comments is that you identify spontaneously--in a warm way, an understanding way instinct, with the desire to help--with women's comments and problems, maybe especially those that resonate with your experience when younger. This cisgender identification may well be the mode of responding of 99%+ people of readers on here; and it's a fine, sterling way to respond. My ideal, of wanting to respond in the same feeling way whatever the gender of the lw, will be much more marginal (it won't be open for some--as an imaginative possibility; as something that could be strongly desired--to be so even-handed in identification re gender).

I think it is an appropriate caution to urge a writer not to write as if cisgender is the only gender, as if cisfemininity is the only femininity. But there is no legitimate sense in which this could be only incumbent on you--and not, say, on Sportlandia opining on the effects on relationships of differences of penis-length. Please understand, further, that I am not trying to impugn all of your comments, as these bear almost entirely on cishet relationships, by saying I've found you to have blind spots about trans. For most people, what transfolk may be like barely impinges, or doesn't impinge, on what male-female relationships are like, especially as they play out themes in the gender war. Again, it would take someone like me to think that forms of transphobia, 'trans panic' and an insistence on strong gender definition play a shaping role in how our culture 'makes' cispeople.

I certainly do not want to interact with you in a way that provokes your anger. I'm not going to find petty fault or rag you on small omissions of phrasing e.g. saying 'women', rather than 'ciswomen'. Not ever--I see how that would be vexatious. (If I have to stand up for trans existence, more starkly, I'll probably feel compelled to--with anyone). To me, the term 'battleax' has three components: 1) a gender component; 2) an age component, a 3) a descriptor--something like the term 'whippersnapper'. I'm aware it's more derogatory than 'whippersnapper', but some of the synonyms you cited are stronger than I took the word to be.

@379. Lava. I am not trying to change anybody's sense of their gender identity. That would be a misreading of my remarks. It's a privilege for someone to have a gendered center. More usually I have a sense of who I am individually, but it doesn't always fit other people's idea of what kinds of people there are.

At any event, my thoughts are with you after your mother's passing. This is a momentous time in anyone's life, to which (it sounds) you and your sister have risen.


Harriet, I'm sure this thread is ding dong dead, but on the off chance you look back at it to see if anyone read/responded to your last post a couple days back, here's my bit.

Note the difference between exhibit A:

What do you mean by X? I could interpret it as meaning Y. This makes me feel Z.

And exhibit B:

You say X. What you really mean is Y. I think you might think that I mean Z when I say Y but I actually mean Z and I'm sure you mean X. Now I'm going to list the reasons you think I mean Z when I say Y and why I know that you are wrong. I'm pretty sure you will respond by saying A, B and C to which I respond with D, E, and F. If we still have any disagreement on this matter, I suggest you reflect on your own bias by saying things that demonstrate you mean Y even though you think you just mean X.

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