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Do you find this pessimistic?

footiamfootiam Veteran
edited December 2012 in Philosophy
SN 1.3
PTS: S i 2
CDB i 90
Upaneyya.m Sutta: Doomed
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
© 2007–2012
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying near Saavatthii, at Jeta Grove, in Anaathapi.n.dika's park. Now a certain deva,[1] as the night was passing away, lighting up the whole Jeta Grove with his effulgent beauty, approached the Blessed One and, having approached, stood on one side.

Standing thus on one side, the deva spoke this verse before the Blessed One:
Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus the fear of death, Let's make merit that will bring us bliss.

[The Blessed One replied:]
Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.[2]

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn01/sn01.003.wlsh.html
lobster

Comments

  • Makes me laugh. You would think the efullgent had something useful to say and do . . . Maybe they had a bad eon? :D
  • lobster said:

    Makes me laugh. You would think the efullgent had something useful to say and do . . . Maybe they had a bad eon? :D

    It does not make me laugh. Just puzzled.
  • It does not make me laugh. Just puzzled.
    Well the deva does suggest making merry merit . . . so perhaps there is a reason beind the apparant pessimism?
    If in doubt, go for bliss . . . peace . . . end of misery etc.
    Seems fair enough . . .?
  • It's the same concept as telling a child not to blow one day or one incident out of proportion - there is the whole life to consider, and since the whole of life is more weighty than one incident or one day, it makes sense to treat it accordingly, if one is seeking the most happiness possible.

    What good is obsessing about one day's happiness, if in doing so you doom yourself to a month of pain due to a bad decision about that one day? Take the long view - I don't think that's pessimistic, but very optimistic.
    anataman
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I don't find it pessimistic. I find it true.
    Vastmindkarmablues
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I don't find it pessimistic. I find it realistic and motivating. Practise! Practise!

    I more or less see it the same way. It's essentially a pep talk about not being complacent in your practice and simply doing good deeds in the hopes of some future reward. The contemplation of death is often used throughout the Suttas as a means of motivating oneself to arouse effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.
  • It's about making projects to fix things and make things once and for all by some plan or ideology. Rather rest in the clarity of the mind and the openness to change.
  • Pessimistic? Not at all. Life is short, make the most of it!
  • lobster said:

    It does not make me laugh. Just puzzled.
    Well the deva does suggest making merry merit . . . so perhaps there is a reason beind the apparant pessimism?
    If in doubt, go for bliss . . . peace . . . end of misery etc.
    Seems fair enough . . .?


    Everything is fair in thoughts, Lobster. It is only unfair if it is not accepted.

    Reading the Sutta again, this line:" Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace" , now finds a new meaning. That Life's doom is a bait, probably means that's not the issue.
  • I feel that tmottes makes a good point by focusing on the difference between the two statements.

    How can they be depressing? They seem to be simply true.
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    yes the difference in the two lines is the Deva says " lets make merit" and the Buddha is saying find deliverance.

    There is nothing pessimistic in this statement at all. What the Sutta is saying is that life is short, there is nothing in the conditioned that we can take refuge in(keep us safe), we are enthralled in the fires of craving, practice practice practice to find our way to freedom.
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    In Western cultures, it is considered depressing to consider the truth of the human lifespan.
    Rather like sticking one's head up their *** and saying everything smells wonderful.

    I find the Buddha's words to be refreshingly realistic and honest, to accurately address these issues that all humans must face, either at the time of their death or before.
    Cole_lotuspadmaanataman
  • howhow Veteran
    The Buddha was always urging folks towards the most direct route to the cessation of suffering. This Sutta is just that.
    BhikkhuJayasaralotuspadmaanataman
  • a
    Jayantha said:

    yes the difference in the two lines is the Deva says " lets make merit" and the Buddha is saying find deliverance.

    There is nothing pessimistic in this statement at all. What the Sutta is saying is that life is short, there is nothing in the conditioned that we can take refuge in(keep us safe), we are enthralled in the fires of craving, practice practice practice to find our way to freedom.

    practice, practice to calm the mind (tranquality meditation=samatha bavana)
    then
    investigate the mind to find a way to freedom (insight meditation=vipassana bavana)

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2012
    It means: Life is short, make the most of the time you have.
  • The Buddha is saying that making merit for the sake of future rewards is not a good enough way to spend this life. Any good results that might come will occur amidst suffering and danger. There is too much danger in Samsara to go around foolishly sowing and picking little joys. Of all dangers, I think the greatest is having no contact with the Dhamma whatsoever. So we need to be thankful for this favorable situation and 'hasten slowly' as Milarepa wisely stated.
    Jeffreykarmablues
  • Great merit bring great good karma, not enlightenment.
    Good karma bring rebirth in the heavenly abodes, deva status, which is what the Buddha warns us against.

    Enlightenment ends the cycle of rebirth in the six realms. To achieve it, is to realise impermanence, emptiness, mind only truths, not make merit.

    Makes perfect sense. The Buddha always does, at least if you understand.......
    karmablues
  • In today's culture, the statements about "doom" and "decay" do seem overly pessimistic. But then again we and everyone we know will die and, probably, get sick and old in the process as well. I think it is useful to always be aware of those facts as that provides a more sober perspective on life.

    However, I'm more comfortable with calling things "impermanent" and "empty" rather than using emotionally charged negative terms like "doom" and "decay". I just find that healthier. But that's just a comment about style. It's hard to disagree with the overall message of the sutta: don't get attached to temporary formations and seek the truth behind it all.
  • Patr said:

    Great merit bring great good karma, not enlightenment.
    Good karma bring rebirth in the heavenly abodes, deva status, which is what the Buddha warns us against.

    Enlightenment ends the cycle of rebirth in the six realms. To achieve it, is to realise impermanence, emptiness, mind only truths, not make merit.

    Makes perfect sense. The Buddha always does, at least if you understand.......

    It sounds like a great idea to be born in a heavenly abode. Who would want to be born in a poor family, even on earth? Perhaps, there is a reason for Buddha's warning against the rebirth in the heavenly abodes.
    Jeffrey
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2012
    footiam said:

    Patr said:

    Great merit bring great good karma, not enlightenment.
    Good karma bring rebirth in the heavenly abodes, deva status, which is what the Buddha warns us against.

    Enlightenment ends the cycle of rebirth in the six realms. To achieve it, is to realise impermanence, emptiness, mind only truths, not make merit.

    Makes perfect sense. The Buddha always does, at least if you understand.......

    It sounds like a great idea to be born in a heavenly abode. Who would want to be born in a poor family, even on earth? Perhaps, there is a reason for Buddha's warning against the rebirth in the heavenly abodes.
    My understanding is that he warns against rebirth in any realm (mentally as well as cosmologically) because such births are impermanent and one is still subject to ageing, illness, and death. And to be reborn in a heavenly realm in particular is to be reborn in a world of very refined sensual pleasures, which makes practice difficult because they're so intoxicating that they tend to give rise to passion rather than a spirit of renunciation.
    karmablues
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    I would never want to be reborn in a heavenly abode... ug.. then you are stuck there for aeons.... postponing your striving for the deathless. If I do not make the deathless in this life I'd at least wouldn't mind being a once returner.. supposedly then you can go to the heavenly abode and finish off your practice there.

    They say the human realm is the most conducive towards the practice.. so yes I'd rather have 10 lives being born in the worst possible human conditions, then one aeon in the heavenly world.
  • I'd like a mix of both, the rationale being that we all need a vacation sometimes :)
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2012
    RebeccaS said:

    I'd like a mix of both, the rationale being that we all need a vacation sometimes :)

    LOL.. growing up strict catholic I never much liked the idea of heaven.. it sounded boring to me, stuck up there with everyone for eternity.. at least Buddhist heaven is impermanent so if I get stuck there I won't have to hear Uncle Frank or Aunt Bessie yammer on for eternity.

    vacation! this is what the Buddha has to say about that :P

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.2.10.than.html


    Get up! Sit up! What's your need for sleep? And what sleep is there for the afflicted, pierced by the arrow, oppressed?

    Get up! Sit up! Train firmly for the sake of peace, Don't let the king of death, — seeing you heedless — deceive you, bring you under his sway.

    Cross over the attachment to which human & heavenly beings, remain desiring tied.

    Don't let the moment pass by.

    Those for whom the moment is past grieve, consigned to hell. Heedless is dust, dust comes from heedlessness has heedlessness on its heels. Through heedfulness & clear knowing you'd remove your own sorrow.


  • Jason said:




    My understanding is that he warns against rebirth in any realm (mentally as well as cosmologically) because such births are impermanent and one is still subject to ageing, illness, and death. And to be reborn in a heavenly realm in particular is to be reborn in a world of very refined sensual pleasures, which makes practice difficult because they're so intoxicating that they tend to give rise to passion rather than a spirit of renunciation.

    What is so good about a spirit of renunciation. Do you probably think it does sound a bit negative?
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2012
    footiam said:

    Jason said:



    My understanding is that he warns against rebirth in any realm (mentally as well as cosmologically) because such births are impermanent and one is still subject to ageing, illness, and death. And to be reborn in a heavenly realm in particular is to be reborn in a world of very refined sensual pleasures, which makes practice difficult because they're so intoxicating that they tend to give rise to passion rather than a spirit of renunciation.

    What is so good about a spirit of renunciation. Do you probably think it does sound a bit negative?
    No, not really. At the heart of the practice, Buddhism encourages one to renounce their unskillful thoughts and desires, particularly those imbued with sensuality, ill will, and harmfulness (MN 19), and to renounce what's conducive to short-term welfare and happiness in favour of what's conducive to long-term welfare and happiness (Dhp 290). Renunciation goes against the flow of craving (Iti 109); it inclines towards peace (AN 9.41); and most importantly, it leads to the nibbana (AN 3.38). While it may be difficult to see the benefits of renunciation at the beginning, it's an important part of the path.

    Unfortunately, renunciation is often perceived as a negative word, especially in the West—a word that implies depriving oneself of something essential to living a full and happy life. But in the Buddha's dispensation, renunciation actually means the opposite of this—it's a word implying the relinquishment of something unessential to living a full and happy life.
    BhikkhuJayasarakarmablues
  • footiam said:


    [The Blessed One replied:]
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.[2]

    This reminds me of the Buddha's last words.
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    Jason said:

    footiam said:

    Jason said:



    My understanding is that he warns against rebirth in any realm (mentally as well as cosmologically) because such births are impermanent and one is still subject to ageing, illness, and death. And to be reborn in a heavenly realm in particular is to be reborn in a world of very refined sensual pleasures, which makes practice difficult because they're so intoxicating that they tend to give rise to passion rather than a spirit of renunciation.

    What is so good about a spirit of renunciation. Do you probably think it does sound a bit negative?
    No, not really. At the heart of the practice, Buddhism encourages one to renounce their unskillful thoughts and desires, particularly those imbued with sensuality, ill will, and harmfulness (MN 19), and to renounce what's conducive to short-term welfare and happiness in favour of what's conducive to long-term welfare and happiness (Dhp 290). Renunciation goes against the flow of craving (Iti 109); it inclines towards peace (AN 9.41); and most importantly, it leads to the nibbana (AN 3.38). While it may be difficult to see the benefits of renunciation at the beginning, it's an important part of the path.

    Unfortunately, renunciation is often perceived as a negative word, especially in the West—a word that implies depriving oneself of something essential to living a full and happy life. But in the Buddha's dispensation, renunciation actually means the opposite of this—it's a word implying the relinquishment of something unessential to living a full and happy life.
    a post well done... in fact I'm keeping it for future reference. Sadu Sadu Sadu

    footiam said:


    [The Blessed One replied:]
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.[2]

    This reminds me of the Buddha's last words.
    I made a little "poster" of the Buddha's last words that I have up over my home and at work -
  • Florian said:

    I feel that tmottes makes a good point by focusing on the difference between the two statements.

    How can they be depressing? They seem to be simply true.

    Things that are true are depressing if we view it with a negative mind. I would like to think in the case of Buddhism, it is pointing out to a potential depressing reality that could be addressed.
  • Florian said:

    I feel that tmottes makes a good point by focusing on the difference between the two statements.

    How can they be depressing? They seem to be simply true.

    The truth can be depressing if we don't accept them.
  • "People like being lied to. They just don't like finding out they've been lied to." - Barney Stinson

    Which one do you choose: a beautiful lie or an ugly truth? Once you choose, will you be consistently stick with your choice?

    Wise men say that the most bitter truth is still more precious than the sweetest lie. Some say that an ugly truth hurts, but a beautiful lie hurts more.
  • edited January 2013
    Both lies are world bait that do not aid in contemplating thus and do not aid in final peace, and time is short, alot may be so confident that they have several tenth of years ahead, and buddha mentioned life is just in a breath, so advice is scorn worldly bait and contemplating on thus. Not only the body is decaying daily, the mind is also decaying, and "From Decay there's naught can keep us safe". The wisdom of Buddha is so glorifying beyond words, so secularistic, scientifically and enlighteningly amazing, amusing and awesome!
  • Jason said:

    footiam said:

    Patr said:

    Great merit bring great good karma, not enlightenment.
    Good karma bring rebirth in the heavenly abodes, deva status, which is what the Buddha warns us against.

    Enlightenment ends the cycle of rebirth in the six realms. To achieve it, is to realise impermanence, emptiness, mind only truths, not make merit.

    Makes perfect sense. The Buddha always does, at least if you understand.......

    It sounds like a great idea to be born in a heavenly abode. Who would want to be born in a poor family, even on earth? Perhaps, there is a reason for Buddha's warning against the rebirth in the heavenly abodes.
    My understanding is that he warns against rebirth in any realm (mentally as well as cosmologically) because such births are impermanent and one is still subject to ageing, illness, and death. And to be reborn in a heavenly realm in particular is to be reborn in a world of very refined sensual pleasures, which makes practice difficult because they're so intoxicating that they tend to give rise to passion rather than a spirit of renunciation.
    It sounds like sensual pleasures is to be avoided. I just wonder why.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Daozen said:

    Pessimistic? Not at all. Life is short, make the most of it!

    It is realistic then!
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    I find it bracing and invigorating.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran
    Florian said:

    I feel that tmottes makes a good point by focusing on the difference between the two statements.

    How can they be depressing? They seem to be simply true.

    The truth can be rather depressing, Florian especially if you are not looking forward to it.
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Yes. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
  • Yes, it is pessimistic. Just remember that pessimism is an invention of societies that pride constant striving for "more", more money, better health, more children, more "things". Such realism as noting that life is painful and will end has no place in a culture of unending desire for improvement and acquisition, hence the negative label.
    riverflowkarmablues
  • BlondelBlondel Veteran
    I think what the Buddha said in the OP can appear to be pessimistic. We forget, however, that Buddhism is positive. The Buddha teaches escape from this dismal world into a higher world that is free of suffering.

    I think the Buddha said in the Dhammapada.

    Make of yourself an island. Strive quickly, be wise. With impurities removed now purified you will reach the divine, the noble abode.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran
    Jayantha said:

    yes the difference in the two lines is the Deva says " lets make merit" and the Buddha is saying find deliverance.

    There is nothing pessimistic in this statement at all. What the Sutta is saying is that life is short, there is nothing in the conditioned that we can take refuge in(keep us safe), we are enthralled in the fires of craving, practice practice practice to find our way to freedom.

    Life is suffering does sound pessimistic.
    To be able to overcome it is optimistic and it just cancel out the pessimistic part, I suppose.

    I suppose then one must have the complete story before passing judgement.
  • Florian said:

    Yes. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

    The only trouble is ignorance is not permanent. And with that, it means, bliss too!
  • footiam said:

    SN 1.3
    PTS: S i 2
    CDB i 90
    Upaneyya.m Sutta: Doomed
    translated from the Pali by
    Maurice O'Connell Walshe
    © 2007–2012
    The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

    Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying near Saavatthii, at Jeta Grove, in Anaathapi.n.dika's park. Now a certain deva,[1] as the night was passing away, lighting up the whole Jeta Grove with his effulgent beauty, approached the Blessed One and, having approached, stood on one side.

    Standing thus on one side, the deva spoke this verse before the Blessed One:
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus the fear of death, Let's make merit that will bring us bliss.

    [The Blessed One replied:]
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.[2]

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn01/sn01.003.wlsh.html

    If there are no problems we seek no answers. If there is no suffering why do we need enlightenment. Buddha didn't want to rain on your parade at all. If you went to him, most likely, your parade was being rained on already. Buddha just tried to show you why. The goddess was just testing the buddha to see what he would say to her and she was agreeing with him that living a good life was the key to ending the suffering.

    I think one of the common reasons for the fear of death is leaving things undone, and missing events, places, and things we love. This is desire, we desire to see our life go on, this is why samsara is nirvana. Life is not too bad, when you look at it. But we all die, change, and forget, even buddha. So, we cling to what we have even though we cant avoid losing it eventually. If you spend all your time fighting to keep something, when do you get to enjoy it? If you spent your time fighting the inevetable you lose the thing before you enjoy it. Live here in the moment. No sense in fearing death if you cant change it. Look at it this way, "But... everybodys doing it. Why cant i?"

    Like i said, the difference between nirvana and samsara is all in your mind. "We are what we think. With our thoughts we make the world." For thoes of us in permanent rainy days, buddha came showed us how to sing in the rain.

    There are buddhas everywhere. The singing homeless man, the army doctor, the friendly stray cat, that fly who wont leave your nose no matter how many times you try to slap him. That fly has no food there, no reason why he'd be there, he just sits on your arm when you leave him alone. The world is crashing down around them, people are out to kill them, and, still...

    It dosent make sense, Its beyond words.

    To be enlightened dosent mean being smarter, or stronger, or better than anyone else. It dosen't mean, never being angry, or sad, or scared. It dosent mean being poorer, being a mayrter, or spending your whole life in meditation. It just means being that person who "Just won't stay down".

    They do not fight to get up, they just get up. Its not about fighting. Its just time to get up, so they do. If they find they can't get up they say "OK I'm going to wait to get up. Thank god for a little nap." When they fall its not "Oh no ive fallen!" it's "What a blessing to be a being who is aware that he has fallen... In breath, out breath."

    When they are scared or angry they do not sieze up or lose control. They say "How beautiful the mechanism of mind and body, that anger and fear arise in them." When happy they say "It is good that i am happy, but better that i have awareness of this happiness, its arising and its ceasing."

    No matter what they are unshaken. Every in breath is their first breath in this life, every out breath the last in the world.

    Blessings and Peace
    From me
    JeffreyEvenThird
  • eh ma ho
  • Dakini said:

    It means: Life is short, make the most of the time you have.

    Life is short most probably sounds pessimistic to lots of people.
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