1. alexandriadeloraine
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    alexandriadeloraine Member

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    Ironic?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by alexandriadeloraine, Aug 24, 2013.

    Hello there folks;

    Perhaps I've been spending a tad too much time navel-gazing recently, but something came to mind recently that I thought my fellow bibliophiles and scribes might consider interesting. It's actually a couple of things, but they are interconnected and revolve around the basic principles of freedom.

    First is the fact that (here in the West, anyway [US, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, etc.]) children are taught about freedom, human rights and the wonders of democracy while in schools that they have been forcibly compelled or coerced to attend by their parents and/or by society. Now, I'm not advocating that children hate learning, or that schools are necessarily an evil thing, but does anyone else consider this fact ironic? I mean, how can one hope to teach anyone about true freedom if the individual is manipulated, cajoled, coerced, threatened or otherwise forced to abide by the will and desires of someone else on a daily basis?

    Second is the fact that, here in the US, the act of a minor (typically aged 16 or 17) attaining legal guardianship over themselves is known as emancipation. Now, emancipation is the same term that we find on that nice, important document The Emancipation Proclamation. How's that for irony? It's as though the legal system recognizes what most people either refuse to acknowledge or justify to the end's of the earth: children and adolescents are basically slaves of their parents unless the legal system chooses to intervene in some manner.

    Now, children do (ostensibly) have certain rights; but then, so did slaves.

    Thoughts? I'm interested to hear them.

    - Alexandria de Loraine
     
  2. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hardly. The state acts in loco parentis with regards to ensuring the education of its children. Would you criticise a parent for imposing boundaries and rules on a child under their own roof? The state simply stipulates what is in the best interests for its youngsters, in something pretty much non-contentious - I don't think anyone would disagree that the state has a responsibility to make sure it has an educated population.
     
  3. Ray West
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    Ray West Member

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    If education wasn't made obligatory, then the majority wouldn't even know about their rights and freedoms - you have to learn about them somewhere. And when the majority of a population is uneducated about rights and freedoms, I would assume that would pave the way for undemocratic systems to emerge. Education of the population is what helps ensure that countries in the west maintain those freedoms (as long as the population stays engaged and doesn't become apathetic...).
     
  4. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I think education is very necessary until people know exactly what they want to do. If children were allowed to do whatever they wanted not many of them would end up going to school they would end up being worse off in life especially if they later decided to pursue an education. I think it is more fitting to liken children forced into going to school to a housecat who would likely be hit by a car if they were let outside, than to victims of a oppressive regime. It is really kind of ironic but in my opinion children benefit in the long run from being forced into going to school whereas people living in oppression are ultimately worse off.
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wow, I hope no pupil of mine ever gets this in their head and start arguing with me :D

    Anyway, I don't think it's ironic, because there're no such things as complete, "true" freedom, free will or freedom of choice, and at least my common sense dictates it doesn't infringe on human rights to send your kid to school 'cause it's the place that gives the kid the tools to survive in our society. Besides, it's education that's given the kid his/her iPad, video games, etc. so if s/he wants to rebel and not go to school, s/he might as well ask her/himself if s/he wants to live in an environment that existed before basic education was made obligatory instead.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i dont find any irony there, either... nor any sense in your argument...
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gawd, I was hearing that argument when I was in grade school - some 40 odd years ago. Made as little sense then as it does now.
     
  8. alexandriadeloraine
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    alexandriadeloraine Member

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    I suppose what I find ironic is the fact that children are taught all these things about how free human beings are, what rights they have, etc. yet children themselves have very few rights and practically no real freedom. I'm also puzzled as to how one can expect a child to really understand what freedom is or to exercise it when they reach the age of 18, if their actions up to that point have been strictly dictated to them by various authority figures and enforced via a system of reward-or-punishment akin to training a dog.

    As I said, I'm not necessarily anti-schooling, and I'm certainly not anti-education, but I do have my doubts about the modern education system. Apparently I'm not alone, either. Just check out John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education sometime or pick up a copy of John Holt's Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children.

    I don't think democracy or the rights of the people have much to do with compulsory education, though (not in the sense that they result from or are protected by the existence of compulsory education). Widespread compulsory education didn't exist when the United States was founded. Perhaps compulsory education leads one to better jobs and pay, though. I'll ask the next gas attendant, or the girls stocking the shelves at the supermarket, or the janitor scrubbing the toilets (or the waitresses at Shari's, or the guy at the window at McDonald's, or the homeless people roaming the streets...) just how much good their compulsory education has done them. These people are, after all, the vast majority of the graduates from the compulsory education system.

    Oh, and in response to Ray West --
    Did parents never educate their children about anything? Or elders within the community? Does one never have spontaneous thoughts and observations that arise simply from ruminating on one's existence in the world?

    Hopefully some food for thought.

    - Alexandria de Loraine
     
  9. alexandriadeloraine
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    alexandriadeloraine Member

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    Hm? I didn't posit an actual argument in my first post. I just asked whether anyone else considered these things ironic...

    That said, if the argument against compulsory education (I assume that is the argument you are referring to) doesn't make much sense to you, perhaps you haven't studied the matter thoroughly enough. I'm just guessing here. Just check out the history of the education system, how it came to be, who funded it, etc. and let me know what you think.

    Cheers;

    - Alexandria de Loraine
     
  10. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I don't thinks its prudent to remove the role of parents in the development of children. To make children equal to adults in responsibility and autonomy is just illogical. Even baby birds don't leave the nest until they are strong enough to fly on their own.
     
  11. alexandriadeloraine
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    alexandriadeloraine Member

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    Hey there JJ;

    Who said anything about removing parents? o_O I actually think parents should play a larger role in the education of their children. Indeed, I think most parents would want to as well, but frankly in our modern world the school system is 'free' childcare that parents rely on because it takes two minimum-wage jobs just to maintain a basic, subsistence level of existence.

    That said, I also think most people shouldn't have children in that first place because they are unfit for the task of raising their children, and our planet is overpopulated enough already. That's a side-note, though, not something I wish to derail the thread with.

    - Alexandria de Loraine
     
  12. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    This statement of a perceived injustice must also come with a theory on resolution. If one considers children unrightfully enslaved by their parents, then isn't it your opinion, much like Holt, that children be 'free at last' from their oppressive overlords?
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, so if the argument doesn't make sense, it's because I don't know enough about the subject of the argument? Isn't that akin to saying "You only have that opinion out of ignorance"? Which is really... well, I can see where this thread is going to lead. See ya...
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Our model of freedom doesn't assert that everyone and everything should be free. It asserts that human adults who fulfill minimal levels of sanity and intelligence should be free.

    So I don't see anything ironic about the "emancipation" word - the law does not pretend, at all, that children are free. It never did. They're not slaves - they don't exist to serve their guardians, but instead to be cared for by them. But they're still not free.

    So the only _possible_ conflict that I see is the fact that intelligent, sane, human adults don't have the right to choose not to educate their children. The law does not give adults absolute freedom with regard to how they raise the children that they're responsible for. But the law doesn't give adults absolute freedom, anyway.

    Now, I'll agree that there are big, big problems with the educational system. But I don't see how that ties into the freedom theme.
     
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  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see the irony at all. Children have to do things they don't want to do. My almost 4 year old would otherwise eat candy all day long while watching cartoons, sitting in his underwear in a fort made of pillows and blankets. And I think just about every kid would. We'd be in trouble as a society if all of our kids did this all day long instead of going to school. The fact that I don't let him do this 24/7 doesn't make him my "slave." (Actually, if anyone is the slave in this scenario, it's me.)

    And parents don't have to send their kids to any particular school. They can send them to private or charter schools, or can homeschool them if they wish.
     
  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait till you get a 9-5 job.
     
  17. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    The thoughts seem to be a little too removed from reality, as if one is pondering the nature of freedom beyond the point of pain. I have yet to meet a family dynamic that was forced to put their children through the educational system. Now, by forced, I mean forced by some entity that lives outside the realm of circumstance. Surely there are things that drive parents to have someone else teach, or raise their kids. But even then, they had the freedom to choose other routes, such as attempting to survive and find time to home-school their children. Unfortunately, the consequences of such a decision are too harsh.

    And for the record, I think education is way more than just the scholarly, the histories and physics and existential philosophies, arts and insights and the cultivating of empathy.

    After all, those were things that grew as intelligence developed. I find it hard to believe that that is the kind of information we first began stuffing into our just budding brains.

    The reality? Sometimes, we have our heads buried in the sands of higher-thought for so long, we forget we're animals, too.

    I know tons of highly intelligent individuals who did not make it through high-school, due to the circumstances in which they grew up. Some didn't even get to high-school. All of them, however, had to rely on their families and friends and employers for their education (and I mean that in a much boarder sense of the word, as stated previously). Many actually understood this reality quite well and became incredibly observant because their education wasn't so much about academics and what-not, as it was about sharpening the tools of survival.

    Personally, and maybe I'm missing something here, but I see no logical correlation between education, enslavement, children, and parents. Given the fact that humans aren't solitary creatures, with us being extremely sociable and all, it seems beyond clear as to why we would seek out the information possessed by others, beyond clear as to why we would need to.

    Are we talking about a situation where freedom exists in its much, much broader sense, where the Parent does whatever he or she wants to, as do the children, in which case the Parent's sole role is to be nothing but a producer of offspring? Are you thinking that Nature would serve as a better teacher, thus making the role of a parent more or less redundant?

    If so, have you considered the behavioral tendencies of a being who is aware of themselves? Who can think independently and complexly? One who more than definitely has the ability to do what they want to do, whenever they feel like it, especially when they learn they have no one, not a single person, to answer to? What happens when they realize they are somewhat in control of their actions, which happens at a very young age, and decide to take the reigns? Someone above me used the example of a fledgling not leaving the nest for a certain period of time. Those birds rely heavily on instincts, as well as what they learn through observing their parents' behavior. The difference between them and beings like us is that we have the ability to rationalize our experience in reality, whether erroneously or truthfully, so well that we take it above and beyond, more often than not overriding the instinctual forces that usually govern the behavior of animals, leading us to make decisions that are not altogether sound, which is a very similar trial and error process that the rest of nature also goes through. The bird almost never gets flying right the first time.

    The way around our sometimes harmful process of rationalization?

    Guidance.

    Without guidance, one of the many vehicles of all things educational, the parent/child relationship would be as shapeless as Anarchy. So we seek out the advice of others. We listen to what people have to say. Just as the child looks to the parent to gleam what it takes to survive.

    Now pair guidance with the trial and error process, the venue in which a child learns on their own, and you create a situation where the child is learning on all fronts. But the tough thing here is balance. Trial and error, which implies a certain level of freedom, and guidance need to be balanced, regardless of the situation, because to me that seems more realistic than the fantasy that is "pure" freedom. Nothing would ever get done if a child was given a situation where he is truly free, in the same way a Panda's offspring would probably not survive, if it walked away right after birth.

    Besides, pure freedom is hardly ever found on the outside, but it certainly can be found within, and that is why guidance is important, because it nourishes real freedom and helps it bloom into something wonderful.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. Not sure if I completely missed the mark, considering I read through about 90% of the thread and found myself unable to fully remember the original idea the OP brought to the forum about half-way through writing the post. Shrug, maybe it's all over the place. Maybe not.

    It was good practice, at least.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  18. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree.

    It is a fallacy to assume that the state always knows best.

    I have a different idea of what a true and beneficial education is. I don't believe that the state truly educates the people - it merely shapes the minds of people in order to serve the interests of the status quo. It has no right, therefore, to force its idea/philosophy of what is good and right onto me.
     
  19. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a fallacy to assume the state always know best, on that I most certainly agree. And what you say is also possibly true in many totalitarian states, and maybe to an extent in the Western world - that state education serves the interests of the status quo. But I can't agree with the idea that the state forces its idea of good and right onto its children through education, with a few notable exceptions. Where the state does its job, it educates and it's down to the parents to instil morals and principles, and, later, down to the individual being educated to find his own philosophy using the tools he has been handed by his state education. That's certainly true of the system I grew up in.
     
  20. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Though this may hold true for public schools and government funded curriculum, I have to admit that there is a good portion of free-thinking going on in most Universities. At least, among the schools my fellow graduates attended, which is rather diverse. A lot of their professors encouraged critical analysis and merely paved the way for the students to come to their own conclusions on whatever views they were walking.

    With that said, I also know a few public school teachers and have discussed with them the materials they are teaching, and it doesn't sound like they are being force fed some agenda that is being implemented in order to shape and mold a population, so they can do the state's bidding. To me, this seems like conspiracy theorist propaganda, on the same level of government propaganda, where you have your own kind of agenda and are trying to make a problem seem as if it's more widespread than it really is.

    Now, if you'd like to take it a step further, I'll entertain what I think is your logic for a moment, and say that what you're describing, seemingly to me, is a consequence of capitalism. If the state is healthy when it's consumers are spending, then it only makes sense for them to provide their population the necessary resources to acquire higher paying jobs, because when consumers are spending, they have more money. And when consumers have more money, consequently they have the ability to do more of the things they want to do, right? Which, in a weird and sick way, only adds to their freedom, at least, in terms of how things seem to work in the United States.

    (That's me thinking a bit romantically, by the way.. considering I know that a good portion of our government does not truly have the population in mind when it makes decisions).
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  21. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Although I agree with some of what you said (regarding self-responsibility) I can't help thinking that you've contradicted yourself a little bit.

    And upon reflection, I would rather use the word impose than force.

    The state does impose. It says that a particular way of social organisation is the the ideal way, and therefore educates a person according to that philosophy in an attempt to shape his mind in agreement. It imposes this idea when the human mind is at its most impressionable and therefore at its most vulnerable.

    It's a very interesting discussion, nonetheless, and I thank you for the intellectual stimulation.

    As for Goldenghost's comment.

    It is hardly 'conspiracy theorist propaganda'. It's a fact of life.

    The human mind is conditioned by its environment both on a social and physiological level. The state just happens to be a major stakeholder in that environment. The state, therefore, is a major factor in the conditioning of the human mind.

    It's not beyond the realms of reason to suggest that the state has particular motives that may not be in the best interests of every individual (as you yourself agree) - i.e. the state is interested in self-preservation, and therefore educates the people in order to preserve itself.

    Even Dante agrees that it goes on in the world. Do you think this kind of social manipulation only goes on in other countries such as Russia, N. Korea, China and some of the Arab nations etc, but not your own?

    I say: the very idea that it can only happen in 'other' countries has been instilled into the mind by - guess who? - that's right, the state.

    But thank you for taking the time to respond to my argument. I value your opinion. And I'm not saying that I'm right about everything - I just think it's good to look at these issues from all angles if we're to be genuine in our discourse.

    I believe that there are some implicit factors that aren't being taken into consideration.

    I'm now off to go foraging for blackberries and plums.

    Hope you all have a brilliant day.

    All the best
     
  22. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Absolutely, and I get what you're saying, but I also think that it's too much to assume that we understand what the mind is fully capable of, especially when it comes to being conditioned, or the opposite, a sort of "reprogramming" so to speak, which Buddhists seem to have been able to do for hundreds of years, in order to get away from the type of "thinking" I believe you are assuming anyone who takes part in education succumbs to.

    Am I wrong in thinking that, based on what you're saying, there is no way of escaping a certain way of thinking? That there truly is no "free-thinking" due to environmental factors governing our state of mind on a social and physiological level?

    I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I am a product of my own thoughts. If the environment held our minds hostage, as you seem to believe, I think Buddhist philosophy would have been dismissed thousands of years ago.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    alexandria...
    i suspect you don't have any children... if you did, i doubt you'd believe all you're saying here... i've borne and raised 7, in addition to having been a 'second mom' to my 2 younger sisters, so over 6 decades personal experience informs my opinions and conclusions...

    on what do you base yours?
     
  24. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you for your thoughts.

    No, I'm not saying 'there is no way of escaping a certain way of thinking . . . That there truly is no "free-thinking" due to environmental factors governing our state of mind on a social and physiological level'.

    I believe that it's possible for a human to critically examine their own mind and/or transcend their social conditioning, to become awakened.

    But even Siddhartha Gautama would agree (in part at the very least) that the environment is a big factor in determining our perception. We can use his story to illustrate this.

    He was raised in the palace and conditioned to perceive reality in a particular way by his father. But when he changed his environment, he began to perceive reality in a different way and this mental revolution changed the entire course of his life.

    This is why I'm optimistic about the human condition - nature has provided the means with which to see beyond our conditioning.

    But having said that, even Buddha used language that was given to him by his environment, namely Hindu ideas such as Samsara and Karma etc.

    I never said that the environment holds our minds hostage. But I do say that it plays a big part in determining how we perceive the world. It is plainly obvious that, as mammals, humans are (from a young age) at the mercy of their environment (for good or for worse).

    You say that you are pretty sure you are a product of your own thoughts. But can you be certain that your thoughts aren't a product of your environment?

    How much of your thinking is done with a language of ideas that was given to you by your environment?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  25. GoldenGhost
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    My thoughts can most definitely be a product of my environment, which is when Vipassana becomes handy, because one can observe and learn to differentiate between what is a stimulus and what is a reaction.

    A lot of thinking is done with a language that was given to me by my environment, so that I may better understand my experience, but I definitely don't say that's a good thing, because that's attachment, my need to understand an unspoken truth so personal to me through some kind of means that only tangles it into many, many knots. And I believe such conceptualizations and labels only further remove us from that which is, and can go, unspoken. This is why I also spend a lot of time simply just thinking. Or more specifically, simply being.

    Consider Joshu's example of Unspoken Truth:

    A nun asked, "Master, will you teach me the truth that has never been spoken?"

    Joshu rebuked her: "Hey! The kettle is scorched!"

    The nun added water to the kettle and said, "Master, please answer."

    Joshu laughed.


    Though that is presented through language, you cannot deny the truth that goes unspoken/unwritten. It is irrefutable, and that kind of direct transmission happens all the time, and yes, it is more often than not caused by the environment. But just because the environment causes such things to pass between us does not mean you or I lack control over the outcome. You can read the above post and react a certain way, or you can simply read the above post and remain the same as you were before you read it. Or you can read the above post, react a certain way, and then go back to living, which is the goal in my opinion, because there is a beginning, middle, and end to that experience. And if you were conditioned to feel a certain way for a period of time, whether it be due to your environment or not, there would never be a beginning, middle, and end to anything, and you'd never find balance. Experiences would be stretched out way passed their date of expiration--Samsara at its finest.

    In other words, I believe we can either observe, or we can attach. And I believe the mind becomes conditioned when we attach to things without giving them any consideration. I do also believe that this conditioning is sometimes unavoidable. No one that I know possesses the kind of perfect awareness that will forever save them from knee-jerk attachments, but I do know people who have developed it enough to the point that those state of suffering, or perhaps those conditioned states only last, let's say, three days or three weeks, as opposed to three months, or worse yet, three years.
     

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