[FutureBuddha (53)] BUDDHANOMICS (PART III)

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39237

    [FutureBuddha (53)] BUDDHANOMICS (PART III)






    When it comes to saving the world from the many terrible problems we now face, even the Buddha and generations of Buddhist teachers have failed so far in bringing the lessons and lifestyle of enlightenment and satisfaction to the vast majority of the world's people through their recommendations and practices. Most people would rather head to the shopping mall, not some temple to meditate.

    In the near future, however, we will finally have a way to change things for the masses in this life.

    As I have repeatedly emphasized, I do not believe in a need for radical alterations in how people behave (brutal dictators and convicted violent criminals aside), but rather, minor tweaks here and there to redirect our feelings and adjust our desires moderately. A moderate increase in our inner index of altruism and loving, and a commensurate decrease in our selfish tendencies and willingness to engage in violence, selfishness and excess consumption, would eliminate many of our most serious societal problems, even if society is still far from perfect. Such small “tweaks” will be enough to save us from our most serious excesses, thus resolving many of the basic problems facing us, all while also allowing us to keep reaching for the stars. We can tone down our desires for excess, for more calories and possessions and wealth than we truly need, while not eliminating our desires, drives and ambitions completely.

    If we structure this inner revolution correctly, people will want to change their pleasures and rewards precisely because they will be subjectively experiencing their own great pleasure, sense of extreme well-being, deep satisfaction and sense of reward in doing so. People will change themselves by their own personal demands to change. It will not be a matter of government order, threat or any external compulsion, no gun to the head or force involved, no impassioned sermons: Rather, ordinary people will change themselves because it makes them feel healthy and happy, even ecstatic and orgasmic, or profoundly peaceful and fulfilled, to do so.

    Past attempts to inspire people to live and act a little better, with a bit less selfishness and a lot more charity, have never been very successful. Billions of people follow religions featuring injunctions to be good and ‘Golden Rules,’ but such edicts have limited effect. People generally seek their own pleasures and rewards, coupled with concern for their own family and loved ones, followed by relatively diminished (although, fortunately, never completely absent) levels of concern for the surrounding community, strangers, and this world as a whole. We evolved to be this way, something that made perfect sense when we lived as beasts in the dog-eat-dog environment of the savannah, fighting just to survive. Most of human history has been a hard and dangerous scramble merely to eat, with food and other resources scarce, thus hoarded by the strong and cunning. Now, for the first time in history, we have a chance to change all this.

    The weak link has always been the human brain, for our animal instincts cannot put down the fight even though we’ve left the wilderness far behind. Now, for the first time in human history, we will have a chance to change the brain just a little, enough to increase our peace and love for others and ourselves, and to leave aside the extremes of violence and greed. For the first time in history, we will soon possess sufficient resources to share and benefit all in the population if we distribute them efficiently and act wisely, including by limits in population growth to levels that our resources can sustain. Soon, for the first time in history, we will have the techniques needed to induce the vast majority of the world’s citizens to want to choose and behave with these goals in mind.

    The answer can only be found in the development of tested and proven, effective and safe pharmaceuticals, nano-devices swallowed in a pill, or easily and painlessly placed under the skin, brain stimulation mechanisms, genetic changes and other similar technologies that gently turn people toward good and healthful directions of behavior, yet which methods are so extremely pleasurable or overwhelmingly fulfilling and satisfying, that people will desire—then demand—to receive such treatments in the marketplace of wellness services. The marketplace will decide, as human desire for pleasure is used as the mechanism by which people will freely elect to temper their own desires for the harmful. They will rush to do so because it will make them feel good, it will make them feel better, and it will make them wonderful in body and mind. The better it makes them feel, and the better it then actually makes them, the faster will they rush to change.

    For hundreds of years, Buddhists have used the attractiveness of bliss in meditation, or promises of bliss, or abiding peace and satisfaction in future heavens, to counter the attractiveness of excess desires of the flesh: What I propose is simply a like delivery of bliss or peace and satisfaction, but in this life.

    The key delivery vehicles might be a new “Upaya” line of consumer products:

    Thus, imagine, for a moment, ‘Satia-Cakes,’ a pastry so tasty and pleasurable that it flies off the shelves. However, this rich delight also serves to moderate appetites such that people are satiated with one or two bites, leading them to lose weight, and have reduced desire for sweets, combined with an increased and passionate craving for healthy vegies.

    Imagine ‘High on Life Rye,’ a whisky so calming that, with a single glass, the alcoholic will have no more desire for alcohol and, instead, will be left with inner calm, confidence, and peace beyond what was sought from the bottle in the first place. The desired substance would moderate further thirst, and the pleasure derived would soften any need for future craving for intoxication.

    Imagine a chocolate, little bonbons (meaning “good good” in French), making us so “good good,” that makes the doing or witnessing of acts of charity as pleasurable as orgasms. People would enjoy their treat (hopefully, low calorie too) then surf the internet in the privacy of their homes for images of toy donations, food programs, water purification projects, as well as orgies of housing the homeless. They would seek out tinder partners to engage in acts of orgiastic volunteering of preserving trees and preventing forest fires, nursing the sick, and aiding the poor, because of the thrill that runs up their spine by doing so. Online charity websites, the “Eu-tube” (the prefix “Eu,” from the Greek for “good”) featuring videos on research for cancer cures and public health campaigns in Africa, would rival in number of views today’s online porno sites!

    How hard would it be to design such substances and devices? Perhaps not as hard as we might first think, once physiologists identify the neurological and hormonal triggers for food and sexual pleasure, and cross those wires with the physical correlates of loving and altruistic behavior. We will nearly orgasm every time we drop a coin in the poor box. Furthermore, as we identify the areas of the brain that activate feelings of revulsion and disgust, we can rewire those to be triggered by negative drives, such as toward violence or extreme selfishness.

    Imagine a scrumptious sushi, the Eco-maki roll, a tuna-tasty protein substitute for which no actual fish are harmed, with such miraculous powers that diners call it among the finest meals of their life! Waves of ‘foody,’ ecstatic pleasure will sweep through the patron’s mouth, lasting hours or days. Long lines will form in front of “fish-ish” stalls, and social media will be wall-to-wall with photos posted by people bragging that they’ve tried the trending mock-mackerel. Some will compare it to ambrosia, the food of the gods. That is the hook to snag diners, with the only catch being that, once consumed, this faux-flounder will reduce to a fraction one’s desire for the real thing. Perhaps, in Japan and across the world, renowned sushi chefs will pour their years of skill and training into serving a single, perfect nigiri that, melting on the tongue, leaves all endangered raw fish as unattractive and tasteless as the hot steaming towels received before the meal. Restaurants will support the effort as actual fish supplies dwindle in the world’s oceans, but not their desire to keep their customers: Japanese connoisseurs will demand new variations, developed by the very same sushi chefs, a phenomenon seen in Tokyo even today, where many old sushiya work to introduce satisfying non-fish substitutes as fish supplies grow harder to obtain. This, when combined with genetic and breeding research to restore endangered species, plus efforts to rid the seas of plastics and other poisons, will restore the oceans in mere decades.

    Imagine a scent, an engineered incense, so pleasant when sniffed, that people will eagerly fill their homes and offices with its sweet aroma. It will leave people feeling relaxed, mildly happy, secure and optimistic about life, such that consumers would take to it like cats to catnip, their hearts as gladdened as if by the first flowers of spring. The sniff might leave them less desirous, fundamentally content, gratified, and happy at the most basic, abiding, existential level. In this regard, it might be more effective in bringing forth nirvana than all the sticks of temple incense ever burned! Moderated needs and wants will remain, while others vanish, replaced by an appreciation of what life already offers. It is a “stopping to smell the roses,” encouraged by a mind-altering, rosy bouquet.

    There is a principle in Zen Buddhism known as “just enough in our bowl,” Oryoki, which encourages satisfaction and appreciation for the small and simple in food and other things in life. Can human beings be satisfied more easily, not only for food, but for all basic desires, when we have had just enough? Hunger is a trigger, satiation also has its trigger points, and all that is needed is to physically adjust those trigger points. As biologists have long noted, we need basic nutrients and a certain number of calories in order to survive and be healthy. However, our animal bodies evolved for times of feast followed by famine, long winters and unsteady supplies. We store fat, and gorge ourselves, far beyond what we need or is beneficial. The body takes many precious minutes for the message to travel from stomach to brain that one is already full, and even that fails to halt our devouring.

    Instead, what if hunger truly stopped when the body had enough? What if our genetic code and endocrine system were changed to maintain low body fat? What if modern industrial food culture moved from fast food and mega-quantities to an emphasis on fine taste, slow eating, presentation, and smaller portions as found in the higher aspects of gourmet cuisine, including in Buddhist temple fare? Although not yet in reach in our day, I believe it will be by our childrens’ or grandchildrens’ day. Hopefully, not too late.

    Perhaps cups of new ‘creativi-tea’ will stimulate the parts of the brain that cause social concern combined with the parts that lead to heightened human creativity. Our broader parental instincts would cause us to demand “care cars” and “us buses” that leave the air clean for our children to breathe, and all others’ children as well, but then our inspired arty side would decorate and enliven our cars and the city streets through which we drive. With sufficient food and shelter now for everyone, we could start bringing a personal touch to our homes, with cooking artistry in kitchens, romantic artistry in bedrooms, and every garage an artist’s studio. Even our personal tea cups will be wonderfully decorated, and tea supplies assured to all.

    Perhaps there could be a nutritious fruit, the ‘apple of our eye,’ which would enhance our appreciation for natural beauty by several notches. Traveling from home, people might experience actual emotional rapture at the site of a majestic canyon or a pristine river with all the pollution removed, both from the beautiful scene and from knowing that work has been done to maintain it, coupled with even more satisfaction in later painting the scene.

    In the face of such wide-spread popular satisfaction, would the seeds of industry cease to flower and grow?

    I do not think so. Quite the contrary.

    ... more on that next time ...



    ~ ~ ~

    Moderating and redirecting our desires, especially excess desires, is very much in the news right now. Two stories from this week:

    Beating the Opioid Crisis: Human Trials for Fentanyl and Heroin Vaccines Nearing Launch

    Scientists from the University of Montana, along with their partners, are close to initiating human trials for vaccines designed to prevent overdoses from fentanyl and heroin.

    These vaccines aim to offer a safeguard for individuals grappling with substance addiction or those vulnerable to unintentional overdoses. Data from the National Institutes of Health indicates that in 2021, over 106,000 drug overdose fatalities occurred in the U.S., with 71,000 of these deaths linked to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

    ... His research team designs haptens and drug conjugate vaccines that can elicit the production of antibodies against target opioids. ... “Our vaccines are designed to neutralize the target opioid, while sparing critical medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone, which are used in the treatment of opioid addiction and reversal of overdose,” he said. ... [But] “It takes a long time – years – to get to a final approved product,” Evans said. “Based on the efficacy data we see in our preclinical data and the established safety profile in animal models, we are very hopeful these vaccines will be successful. But there is still a lot of work to be done.”

    https://scitechdaily.com/beating-the...earing-launch/

    Ozempic seems to curb cravings for alcohol. Here's what scientists think is going on

    ... With the drug's surge in popularity, doctors and patients have begun to notice a striking side effect of these drugs: They appear to reduce people's cravings for alcohol, nicotine and opioids. They may also reduce some types of compulsive behaviors, such as gambling and online shopping.

    "There's really been a large number of clinical and anecdotal reports coming in suggesting that people's drinking behaviors are changing and in some instances pretty substantially while taking [Ozempic or Wegovy]," says Christian Hendershot, a psychologist and addiction researcher at the University of North Carolina. ... He's leading one of six clinical trials now underway aimed at understanding how semaglutide may alter people's drinking and smoking habits.

    "All these reports, for the most part, are anecdotal," Hendershot adds. "At the same time, it does seem like there's a pretty strong signal here."

    ... "It's really not surprising," says pharmacologist Elisabet Jerlhag.

    For more than a decade now, Jerlhag and her colleagues at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have been figuring out in great detail how GLP-1 drugs, such as Ozempic, reduce alcohol consumption in rats.

    She and other scientists have published nearly a dozen studies showing how these drugs stop binge drinking in rats or mice, prevent relapse in "addicted" animals, and overall decrease their consumption of alcohol. "So we see a reduction by over 50%, which is quite dramatic," Jerlhag says. Other studies in animals have also found that GLP-1 drugs reduce the consumption of nicotine, opioids, as well as psychostimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

    So why would a weight-loss drug do this? Turns out, these drugs (as well as the GLP-1 hormone) don't just work on blood sugar. "They also work in your brain," says Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, who's the clinical director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. "The mechanism in the brain that regulates overeating overlaps with those responsible for the development and maintenance of addiction, including alcohol disorder," he says.

    ... "Dopamine in the striatum [the brain's motivation center] is the motivation and learning signal for everything. Not just for food," DiFeliceantonio says. "All addictive drugs increase dopamine there. That's a common thing." ... But studies have found that in animals and people, GLP-1 drugs reduce the release of dopamine in this region when you eat something sweet and fatty, or when you consume alcohol. ...

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-...gs-semaglutide




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    Last edited by Jundo; 09-03-2023, 01:53 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Tokan
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Oct 2016
    • 1230

    #2


    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)
    平道 島看 Heidou Tokan (Balanced Way Island Nurse)
    I enjoy learning from everyone, I simply hope to be a friend along the way

    Comment

    • WorkerB
      Member
      • Jan 2023
      • 177

      #3


      Looking forward to the next installment(s) to learn more about the free will and informed consent aspects that you’ve started addressing with your poetic descriptions of attractors/intermediate incentives/lures (reaching for a word i cannot find at the moment)

      b.
      st
      Last edited by WorkerB; 09-02-2023, 03:00 PM. Reason: Emoticon shenanigans

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39237

        #4
        Originally posted by WorkerB


        Looking forward to the next installment(s) to learn more about the free will and informed consent aspects that you’ve started addressing with your poetic descriptions of attractors/intermediate incentives/lures (reaching for a word i cannot find at the moment)

        b.
        st
        Hi B.,

        Oh, no need to wait, and not so secret.

        Just as folks are running for Ozempic now, and similar pharmaceuticals, in the hopes of curbing appetite, become thinner, healthier and more "beautiful" (by popular standards) ... or for botox and plastic surgery and any number of modern medical "beauty and health" aids ... I believe that they will run for treatments (which, like Ozempic and Botox, must be tested and approved as safe and effective) which make them feel more content, happier, healthier in body and mind. The marketplace decides.

        Being content with moderated desires means less anger, less demand to consume (both food and consumer goods), a great sense of well-being, better physical health, less excess consumption in the marketplace. Other substances which create heightened pleasure (i joke about near orgasmic pleasure) in viewing or engaging in altruistic behavior might also be sought out (although counter-intuititive) simply for the selfish personal pleasure they bring, much as people now seek pot and alcohol for the heightened pleasures they bring. People are certainly willing to consume alcohol for the pleasure (despite all the known negative consequences of doing so, from personal health to social violence and traffic deaths.) The pleasure is overriding of any negatives. Well, the substances I envision will make people FEEL GOOD ... PLUS ... actually BE GOOD both in personal health and social effects.

        The difference from the Covid vaccine is that many people did not see the immediate pleasure and selfish benefit from taking it. Quite the contrary. Yet many of those same people who rejected the vaccine would then head to the dispensary for a chewable, the bar for a shot of whiskey, a pack of cigarettes or to get a tattoo injected into their skin ... all available by free will in the marketplace.

        Also, it is not necessary that everyone in society partake: If only 10% of people take a substance that increases pleasure in altruism and charitable acts, that is still a 10% increase in charity. If we administer anger reducing treatments only to people who receive medical treatment for severe anger issues, or who are convicted criminals for offences caused by anger, then that is treating the sector of the population that is the cause of most anger related violence in society (and there is no need for such treatments among the rest of the citizenry.)

        Gassho, J

        stlah

        PS - B, any chance you might write a full human first name, rather than just an initial? Unless folks really call you just "B"? It helps keep things a bit more human and warm around here.
        Last edited by Jundo; 09-03-2023, 01:34 AM.
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • WorkerB
          Member
          • Jan 2023
          • 177

          #5
          Very good, Jundo! Very good point about *any* uptake having the potential for helping.

          Also, my friends and colleagues do indeed call me B.

          Gassho,
          b.

          st
          Attached Files
          Last edited by WorkerB; 09-03-2023, 01:06 AM. Reason: Exceeded three sentences explaining my name. I never intended to be cold or inhuman.

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39237

            #6
            Originally posted by WorkerB
            ...

            Also, my friends and colleagues do indeed call me B.

            Gassho,
            b.

            st
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

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