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Answer by DannyD3

A Buddhist-inspired answer would be that a classic utilitarian's craving for or grasping after pleasant or "heavenly" states of existence is what causes them to reject NU or at least not be negative leaning. With modern lexicon, that may be likened to a brain's reward function being why they reject NU, with pleasure holding more motivational salience than pain/aversion or tranquility (if the most latter can be attained or sustained).

What is the most extreme form of suffering that you’ve experienced and believe can be “outweighed” by positive experiences?

Partially torn/Extremely injured Wrist TFCCs and later what was likely CFS or some error in steroid hormone metabolism. I would not say that either of these were ever outweighed by positive experiences. With sufficient experiences of suffering, I became an NU and no longer desire (nor do I oppose) higher gradients of bliss, unless they work in some instrumental anti-suffering fashion.

>By my understanding, a universe with no conscious experiences is the best possible universe by ANU (though there are other equally good universes as well). Would you agree with that?

I'd say that a universe with no conscious experiences (of suffering) is the best possible universe by ANU. If there are neutral, tranquil or pleasant consciousnesses that can't ever possibly suffer (or change to a state of suffering), their existence or non-existence wouldn't matter and an ANU would say that the universe with them is no better/worse than without them.

That is what you meant/thought by equally good universes as well, right?

In a lot of cases today, certain populations are “forced” into a tribalist state in order to survive and prevent s-risks. This usually occurs when a larger tribe subjugates, brutalizes, and terrorizes a smaller and less tribally organized tribe, which forces the smaller tribe to have to act in tribal ways to defend itself from ethnic cleansing or genocide. One can call this effect induced tribalism. It is also something I should make a larger post about.

Examples of this induced Tribal effect includes but is not limited to:

Kurdish & Yezedi people Armenians and Assyrians Tibetan people Native Americans Tutsis (though Rwanda is a special case due to its non-ethnic, slightly non-Tribal identity policy today. The ‘we are all Rwandans’ position/policy of the current Rwandan gov) Some would also include post-Holocaust Zionism (among European Jews) in this category.

From an analysis of the histories of these groups, nationalism and tribalism largely grew in response to an active threat against their lives, rather than prior to it (as would be the case if they were the aggressors). EA is largely unaware of the tribal dynamics that occur in the world and would benefit from research that makes sure helping out one ‘tribe’ doesn’t come at the destruction and devastation of another. Tribalism can and should end and Kaj puts forward a strong argument, though efforts should also take into consideration complex situations where tribalism has been or still is necessary to prevent s-risks.

My biggest qualm against most psychedelics is not that they don’t work per say, but that they are kind of redundant and not the most effective long term, when compared to the various meditations we have.

Mindfulness-based practices have been found to reduce anxiety, depression, pain, stress and can help people bounce back faster from negative events. They can be used alongside CBT or be employed when CBT fails to make an impact. The jhanas are highly pleasurable and virtually unknown to most people. The boundless attitudes / viharas may make one feel better about themselves and improve positive affect along with willingness to express compassionate, kindness, and engage in altruistic activities. Vipassana and Dzog Chen can chip away at ego construction and the illusion of permanent selfhood, and are calming. Zazen has parallels with all day awareness activities. And like yoga, these are all easily secularizable if that is ever an issue.

Besides mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices, not much clinical research (RCTs and the like) have been done with these other forms of meditation. There aren’t too many metanalyses and systematic reviews of Vipassana, jhanas, and the viharas, particularly because rcts including them are in their infancy and many are underway.

Various meditation may be able to improved cortical thickness, make brains faster and more efficient to counter the effects of aging, among other benefits like emotional/behavioral regulation. Perhaps they can be used to make people think more like consequentialists, now that I think about it...

Taking a page out of Buddhist ethics, psychedelics aren’t inherently bad, they are just usually unskillful, as they may easily lead to heedlessness and short term ethical carelessness (as opposed to vigilance or awareness). That is to say, while it is harder to enter meditative states, and they take some practice before one can do it at whim, they are easier to exit & the same cannot apply until the physiological and physiologic effects of a substance or very good or very bad trip wears off. This argument may not apply to microdosing, though, or future biohacking medications that reduce pain.

Meditation is not a panacea, sure, but it is among the fastest growing industries & practices (doubling in terms of Us practitioners in the past decade). It’s something EA should highly consider studying and possibly funding.

Lastly, once one knows how to engage in a meditative practice, it is free and can be done anywhere with little risk or danger to others. Anyplace and anytime. It may help reduce physician or healthcare worker burnout [a factor I’d posit as possibly responsible for costly medical errors], and has been used to treat many of the psychiatric conditions you referenced. There are a few conditions (schizophrenia) where some meditations may not be helpful and may indeed be harmful, but given the scope of contemplative practices, some may be clinically applicable.