Comments on “Stances are unstable”

Add new comment

What is unstable? Self or Stance

Sabio 2011-02-17

You said:

"Because the confused stances fail to match reality, they are all unstable."

But I would say “self” is unstable or that the person’s mind uses many stances which apparently you call “the nebulosity of selfness”. I think we mean the same thing. But then I apply it here and don’t label the stance itself as unstable.

Why would that matter? Because I am not sure your “Complete Stance”, your 4th Stance, is stable either: Meaning that a person may hold that stance and then slip into one of your “confused” stances because they themselves are unstable, not because of anything inside the “complete stance” position.

So, on a curious note, do you know of any followers of Buddhism (or we must say Aro teachings here) who are committed for a long while and then leave and go to pursue another “stance”?

You say, "Stances allied to

Sabio 2011-02-17

You say,

"Stances allied to nihilism come with defiant negativity, and those allied to eternalism make you sound like a Hallmark greeting card."

But I know Dualistic-Eternalists (Christians) who hold their stance very gently and inclusively while others hold them angrily and aggressive. Our beliefs can be very superficial. They only buy us membership into the club where we can still act out who we are. So I don’t find any consistency in eternalists, but (possibly agreeing with you), I do find tendencies. Maybe I am just adding a subtle caveat.


David Chapman 2011-02-17

Yes, it would be more accurate to say that our adherence to stances is unstable. And that emphatically includes the complete ones! I said that at the end of the stances are unstable page:

Unfortunately, they too are unstable. They are unstable not because they fail to fit reality, but because they don’t offer the emotional pay-offs the confused stances do. Once one has decided that the confused stances are unworkable, and that the complete stances are accurate, one can work toward stabilizing the complete ones.

I would describe Buddhism as a “system” rather than a “stance”; and yes, of course, committed Buddhists (including in the Aro lineage) do sometimes abandon Buddhism for other systems. Or just lose interest and become uncommitted to any system.

Yes, I should make it clearer that the emotional textures that accompany particular stances are tendencies only.

With regard to dualistic eternalism specifically, there seem to be two main emotional patterns, which I call “kitsch” (simply refusing to see anything that contradicts the everything-is-God’s-creation-so-it-is-all-good vision) and “arming” (which seeks to defend the eternalist vision by holding nebulosity at bay by force, violent if necessary). The “Hallmark card” pattern is the kitsch one.

Quite possibly you could be a Christian without showing either of those patterns.

How to Fall Off the Wagon

Dunkelheit 2015-06-09

David, you seem to be an avid ribbonfarm reader, so I wonder what are your thoughts on the “How to Fall Off the Wagon” post (not posting the direct link as it seems to irritate the spam filter). Seems to present much the same concepts you talk about here from slightly different angles.

How to Fall Off the Wagon

David Chapman 2015-06-09

Sorry about the spam filter! It’s lousy, but I don’t have much control over it.

Thanks for the pointer to “How to Fall Off the Wagon.” It’s an insightful post and I recommend it to anyone reading this.

I’m not sure how I’d relate it to what I’ve written. There’s similarity in thinking-style, and in overall goals, I think; the details are less obviously connected.


Simon Berntsson 2019-05-24


I have had some anxiety, depression and existential crisis for the last 4 months and I’ve recently found this book. I really like what you have written about the complete stances and they were the stances I had before this crisis. Now, this crisis has made be shift between all of these confused stances and lost the complete stances. After reading a lot in this book I’ve come to realize that the complete stances are better and that the confused ones are not so healthy. But, even though I have recognized that, I don’t feel happy. I know you wrote that it takes time to completely accept the complete stance and leave the confused ones behind, but I find myself expecting that once I recognized the fault in them, I would be instantly happy again. What are your thoughts on that?

Beautiful Hypothetical Monologue

Raederle Phoenix 2019-10-02

The monologue was so spot-on. I’ve heard many people go through almost those exact transitions in almost those exact words. I don’t think you over did it at all; it sounds like my various ex-boyfriends from my teenage years, and in a good way.

I’m starting to see what you mean more by “stances” now. I even see why you’re saying “confused stances” at this point. You may already know this, but calling them “confused stances” can be pretty triggering. Emphasizing the emotional value that they have or how they serve a purpose when you first introduce the wording might be worthwhile.

~ Raederle

Add new comment:

You can use some Markdown and/or HTML formatting here.

Optional, but required if you want follow-up notifications. Used to show your Gravatar if you have one. Address will not be shown publicly.

If you check this box, you will get an email whenever there’s a new comment on this page. The emails include a link to unsubscribe.