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Simple (?) Question

silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded.USA, Left coast. Veteran

This question was raised on a spiritual forum and I don't understand what they're getting at with the first sentence or two:

"Buddhism seems to teach that existence has a cause and that cause is clinging to existence, good or bad.
Is this why Buddhists don't want to come back?

It is such a sad religion from my perspective but then again
I can't imagine what lies beyond existence."

Can anyone interpret what they're trying to get at or does anyone feel they have simply misunderstood Buddhism?

(I especially don't get the very first part about existence having a cause.)

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited July 12

    They've misunderstood it. Completely.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 12

    It depends what they mean by existence. Clinging to the way things DO NOT exist leads to suffering.

    But ask them to show you where Buddhism says existence is CAUSED by clinging. Where in Buddhism I recall clinging is discussed is in the 12 nidanas. Nagarjuna actually said suffering does not exist and neither does what we conceive of the self that is suffering. Both constructed mentally and emotionally attached to.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Nidānas

    Also as I said clinging to how things DO NOT exist leads to suffering.

    When if for a moment we don't do that and we are not clinging then we feel good. But usually we think to ourselves how we want to keep feeling good forever and then start clinging again!

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    And then there is a second question at the end of why would we want to leave samsara.

    I think the misconception is that without samsara there is annihilation. And that is a misconception. There is Nirvana.

    personVastmind
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Yeah, it sounds to me like they are misunderstanding both dependent origination and emptiness. Anyone who thinks Buddhism is all sadness either entirely misunderstands or just isn't willing to see life clearly. Some people think accepting that we all get sick, hurt and die is focusing on the negative. Accepting reality isn't focusing on negative. They also apparently think we focus entirely on rebirth, which is an easy mistake to make, especially if your experience comes from pop culture.

    The "existence has a cause and that cause is clinging to existence" doesn't even make sense to me. The only thing I can think is that they are talking about the cycle of rebirth, that we are stuck being reborn again and again because we cling to life/existence. Which in a way isn't entirely incorrect, but yeah, major misunderstanding and leaving out some very big parts of those teachings, lol.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Thanks guys, it's amazing how complicated the answer to a (misconceived) simple question can become.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @silver said:

    "Buddhism seems to teach that existence has a cause and that cause is clinging to existence, good or bad.

    ...

    (I especially don't get the very first part about existence having a cause.)

    :)
    Our sense of individual persona, ego, 'I am what I think', Dependent Origination etc.
    is how we exist:

    • in ignorance, dukkha, joy, serenity, past, future, cake eating, escapism, trivia, illness etc ...
    • 'my mind is full of junk, therefore I exist', to paraphrase Desecrated Descartes.
    • we are like a fly in a karmic web

    ... however ... our entrapment in this pseudo shallow existence is not US, I AM, IZ I, emptiness, spaciousness, unbound, nibanna etc

    So what is beyond this unseemly masquarade?

    iz cessation, emptying, freedom, equinimity, all the good stuff worth coming back to ...

    BunksShoshin
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Turns out, it was a good question, because I haven't expended a lot of energy to understand certain things about Buddhism - diminishing returns for me to try and wrap my Western mind around some of it...So, is it worth coming back to or are we just punishing ourselves? Why does cake eating jump out of the page at me? :p

    No, really, if one is a layperson, how on earth are they to avoid the re-birthing thingy?
    How would a spiritual 'teacher' explain it, especially if they are Eastern minded - or not.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    How would a teacher explain what part, exactly? I'm not clear on what you are asking. Are you asking how a layperson can practice Buddhism and achieve liberation so they aren't reborn again? or are you asking how they avoid thinking/talking about it at all?

    With my teacher, who is Tibetan, it is funny because there is a lot of focus on merit building, and Phowa/death practice but not much focus at all on rebirth. It is mentioned, of course, ie gaining merit to increase the chance of a more desirable rebirth (heh, aren't we supposed to be getting rid of those pesky desires?) but not talked about in-depth at all.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    So, I take it not talking about it is a shorter route to nirvana?

    Yes, am asking how a layperson can practice Buddhism and achieve liberation so they aren't reborn again. Am not sure, but isn't it or wouldn't that be one of the main 'goals' of being a Buddhist?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    For me, I don't have any goals, long term, for my reasons of being Buddhist. I didn't arrive here so that I could end rebirth. If that's where I end up, then we'll go from there, LOL. for me it has always been about finding peace and balance now, in my every day life. Little worry about what happens after I die.

    it really depends who you ask, and as usual, no one knows which is why the answers vary. Some teachers will tell you householders/laypeople can be liberated. Others will tell you only monastics can because living a world-involved life automatically means attachments and desires. But, how can you truly work through having attachments and desires if all you do is avoid them? Eckhart Tolle will tell you he is free/liberated. But he is not Buddhist so he won't go so far as to claim enlightenment and freedom from rebirth when he dies in this life. I personally don't see any reason why a lay person couldn't make significant progress and potentially be liberated in that life. Living a lay life doesn't have to mean attachments. One can live with others and be free of those attachments. Perhaps not easily. But I do think it's possible.

    silverDavidKerome
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I think, @karasti, that's as good a response as I could hope for.

    When I started reading what @Jeffrey posted (the link on 12 Nidanas/Wiki), I was like, can't we start at the beginning? I was lost right out of the gate. :3

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    It's strange seeing the misconceptions people have about Buddhism. Buddhists don't want to come back? Clinging is no good so aversion is the goal?

    I don't remember any suttas saying that existence relies on desire but maybe they are misunderstanding the first Noble Truth as a prelude to nhilism. It happens a lot.

    I especially think it's cute when people mistake Hotei for the Buddha and talk about rubbing his chubby belly for luck. I counter by comparing it to sitting on Jesus's lap at the mall asking him to bring toys.

    karastiupekka
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @silver said:
    So, I take it not talking about it is a shorter route to nirvana?

    Yes, am asking how a layperson can practice Buddhism and achieve liberation so they aren't reborn again. Am not sure, but isn't it or wouldn't that be one of the main 'goals' of being a Buddhist?

    My own personal view is that the expectation that a lay person is going to achieve nibanna in this lifetime is most often not reasonable. My understanding (which may be wrong) is that Theravadians tend to share this belief.

    My understanding (which, again, may or may not be correct) is that Buddha felt that a layperson would have a difficult time being able to **fully **follow the Noble Eightfold Path and that the conditions needed to do so are usually only achievable by monks. As a result, the goal of most laypeople should be to improve ones situation in the present life through gaining "bun" (merit) so that he or she are more likely to achieve a subsequent life where it is more likely that the individual will be able to more fully and perfectly adhere to the requirements of the path to enlightenment. And that this is why there are multiple levels of "heaven" (and "hell") in Theravada Buddhism.

    This may sound snarky, but -- in my humble view -- anyone who is on the verge on enlightenment is probably not going to be posting on newbuddhist.com.

    I'm meeting with two monks tomorrow, so I will try to discuss this issue with them.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @David said:

    I especially think it's cute when people mistake Hotei for the Buddha and talk about rubbing his chubby belly for luck. I counter by comparing it to sitting on Jesus's lap at the mall asking him to bring toys.

    I still have difficulty distinguishing between statues of Hotei (my temple has one) and the story of the handsome monk who ate himself fat so that women would no longer desire him.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @karasti said:
    For me, I don't have any goals, long term, for my reasons of being Buddhist. I didn't arrive here so that I could end rebirth. If that's where I end up, then we'll go from there, LOL. for me it has always been about finding peace and balance now, in my every day life. Little worry about what happens after I die.

    it really depends who you ask, and as usual, no one knows which is why the answers vary. Some teachers will tell you householders/laypeople can be liberated. Others will tell you only monastics can because living a world-involved life automatically means attachments and desires. But, how can you truly work through having attachments and desires if all you do is avoid them? Eckhart Tolle will tell you he is free/liberated. But he is not Buddhist so he won't go so far as to claim enlightenment and freedom from rebirth when he dies in this life. I personally don't see any reason why a lay person couldn't make significant progress and potentially be liberated in that life. Living a lay life doesn't have to mean attachments. One can live with others and be free of those attachments. Perhaps not easily. But I do think it's possible.

    Your posts often lead me into deeper thought! Like this one. I'm glad you're here!

    karasti
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited July 13

    @vinlyn said:

    @David said:

    I especially think it's cute when people mistake Hotei for the Buddha and talk about rubbing his chubby belly for luck. I counter by comparing it to sitting on Jesus's lap at the mall asking him to bring toys.

    I still have difficulty distinguishing between statues of Hotei (my temple has one) and the story of the handsome monk who ate himself fat so that women would no longer desire him.

    Nice, I don't remember hearing that story, thanks. I do actually see Hotei in the same light as Santa Clause but he doesn't come around because the night is special, the night is special because he comes around.

    Thinking on it, I'd say the big difference between them is that Hotei is about spreading happiness whereas the handsome monk seems a bit hooked up.

    I have over a dozen Hoteis in my shrine but to me they represent dharma bodies in general.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited July 13

    @vinlyn Thanks <3 I'm glad you are back!
    My problem with the idea that one should work towards a monastic future life is there implies a lot of striving, and a lot of aversion to the current life. It reminds me of how women in some countries pray to be reborn a man because they believe that is the only road to enlightenment. I know what you say is true, I have heard and read much the same. So I'm not disagreeing with you, just the whole idea that's out there. It seems to require one to focus on the things in their current life that are unacceptable for enlightenment which seems (to me) to go against the core teachings of working out of both attachment and aversion. Obviously, we all have unskillful things in our life every day, and we should be recognizing them and working on them. But I do think there are things that can only be learned by experiencing life and interactions with others that enhance understanding, you don't get that by being a monastic. But, perhaps those who are monastic have already completed those interactions in previous lives and are taking next steps. I do have a tendency to think about future lives without considering what lives have lead to this point, :lol:

    David
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @silver said:
    ... can't we start at the beginning? I was lost right out of the gate. :3

    B)
    Once upon a time there was a Prince who had all the cake he could eat. Not happy. One day he decided to leave the palace and find out how to be happy ...

    Tee hee! We each leave, seek and if persistent find according to:

    • Right effort as opposed to Santa Claws delusions of [insert ineffectual behavour]
    • Introspection on our situation
    • Abandoning misery clinging

    What's the plan?
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/7521/mindfulness-and-living-in-the-present

    upekka
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran

    @silver said:
    This question was raised on a spiritual forum and I don't understand what they're getting at with the first sentence or two:

    "Buddhism seems to teach that existence has a cause and that cause is clinging to existence, good or bad.
    Is this why Buddhists don't want to come back?

    It is such a sad religion from my perspective but then again
    I can't imagine what lies beyond existence."

    Most people including Buddhists wants to continue existing. Like you, they can't imagine what lies beyond existence. Who doesn't want continued existence in the form of a good "rebirth" or going to "someplace good"?

    What is the cause of aging, sickness and death? The answer is birth and existence.
    Freedom from the idea of existence means freedom from aging, sickness and death.

    lobsterupekkasilver
  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    edited July 14

    @silver said:
    if one is a layperson, how on earth are they to avoid the re-birthing thingy?

    there are three stages a lay person can practice without going forth

    How would a spiritual 'teacher' explain it, especially if they are Eastern minded - or not.

    achieving the first stage -stream winner-one can be sure of not returning to bad states
    achieving the second stage -once returner- there is a possibility one might come back to human world
    achieving the third stage -nun returner- one never return but go into Pure aboard and finishes the rest or must go forth to finish the rest

    @karasti said:
    but not talked about in-depth at all.

    there is a possibility they might talk in-depth with the suitable crowd

    @silver said:

    Yes, am asking how a layperson can practice Buddhism and achieve liberation so they aren't reborn again. Am not sure, but isn't it or wouldn't that be one of the main 'goals' of being a Buddhist?

    you bet, you need to ask
    but from the right person at the right time

    @karasti said:
    I personally don't see any reason why a lay person couldn't make significant progress and potentially be liberated in that life. Living a lay life doesn't have to mean attachments. One can live with others and be free of those attachments. Perhaps not easily. But I do think it's possible.

    yes, it is possible

    @vinlyn said:

    My understanding (which, again, may or may not be correct) is that Buddha felt that a layperson would have a difficult time being able to **fully **follow the Noble Eightfold Path and that the conditions needed to do so are usually only achievable by monks. As a result, the goal of most laypeople should be to improve ones situation in the present life through gaining "bun" (merit) so that he or she are more likely to achieve a subsequent life where it is more likely that the individual will be able to more fully and perfectly adhere to the requirements of the path to enlightenment. And that this is why there are multiple levels of "heaven" (and "hell") in Theravada Buddhism.

    not only that wisdom of all is not equal
    some have to develop their wisdom by practising meditation
    some are not ready to meditate, then they are collecting merits by doing some other rituals
    practising rituals and listening to dhamma talks is better than invovlve in killing, stealing, sexually misconducting, lying and taking alchohol and drugs

    @karasti said:

    , I have heard and read much the same. So I'm not disagreeing with you, just the whole idea that's out there. It seems to require one to focus on the things in their current life that are unacceptable for enlightenment which seems (to me) to go against the core teachings of working out of both attachment and aversion. Obviously, we all have unskillful things in our life every day, and we should be recognizing them and working on them. But I do think there are things that can only be learned by experiencing life and interactions with others that enhance understanding,

    yes

    you don't get that by being a monastic.

    how can we say that?

    But, perhaps those who are monastic have already completed those interactions in previous lives and are taking next steps.

    yes, but it doesn't say all monastics are involving in 'what they should do'

    I do have a tendency to think about future lives

    for this we have to do Insight meditation

    considering what lives have lead to this point

    for this Concentration meditation (by achieving up to 4th jhana/absorption) is needed
    Insight meditation too can help in this (by achieving 4th jhana)

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Some teachers will tell you householders/laypeople can be liberated. Others will tell you only monastics can because living a world-involved life automatically means attachments and desires. But, how can you truly work through having attachments and desires if all you do is avoid them? Eckhart Tolle will tell you he is free/liberated. But he is not Buddhist so he won't go so far as to claim enlightenment and freedom from rebirth when he dies in this life. I personally don't see any reason why a lay person couldn't make significant progress and potentially be liberated in that life. Living a lay life doesn't have to mean attachments. One can live with others and be free of those attachments. Perhaps not easily. But I do think it's possible.

    Exactly, living a life free of clinging among the objects of desire is possible, it's all in the mind.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @vinlyn said, "This may sound snarky, but -- in my humble view -- anyone who is on the verge on enlightenment is probably not going to be posting on newbuddhist.com.
    I'm meeting with two monks tomorrow, so I will try to discuss this issue with them."

    It'll be interesting to hear what they have to say - looking forward to it.

    You're probably right - Would love to know how many new enlightened ones happen in a day - a week - whatev.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    We could have an enlightenment derby and vote for our favorites.

    silverVastmindkarastiDavid
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @upekka Because I'm pretty sure that celibacy is required of most (not all) monks, and therefore it would be pretty difficult to experience, for example, raising children. It would also be different to experience the challenges in dealing with family otherwise. Which it seems is part of the reason monks are segregated from their families most of the time and sent to monastery often at very young ages. I'm just saying that perhaps simply avoiding everything that is difficult/challenging isn't necessarily the best way, or the only way, to be free of the attachments of them.

    federicaKerome
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @grackle said:
    We could have an enlightenment derby and vote for our favorites.

    Could I just say that in a race of 30 horses, I am definitely odds-on favourite to come 31st.

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @upekka Because I'm pretty sure that celibacy is required of most (not all) monks, and therefore it would be pretty difficult to experience, for example, raising children. It would also be different to experience the challenges in dealing with family otherwise. Which it seems is part of the reason monks are segregated from their families most of the time and sent to monastery often at very young ages.

    agree

    I'm just saying that perhaps simply avoiding everything that is difficult/challenging isn't necessarily the best way, or the only way, to be free of the attachments of them.

    avoiding doesn't help unless there is Understanding the reason for avoiding
    because how far one is segregated from the challenges, one is with one's own mind
    whether one is with the family or in a monastery one's mind wanders to one's thoughts
    Buddha says '_cetanahang bikkave kammang vadami'
    _

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    We don't see where anyone goes after they die. So who knows. But if some Buddhist were to stop clinging would we expect them to disappear? Like in a puff of smoke? Ha I don't think so.

    karasti
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    We don't see where anyone goes after they die. So who knows. But if some Buddhist were to stop clinging would we expect them to disappear? Like in a puff of smoke? Ha I don't think so.

    But what a way to go!

    karastiJeffrey
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    We don't see where anyone goes after they die. So who knows.

    yes we can't see
    that's why we have to have a bit of faith in Buddha's Teaching if want to practice it

    But if some Buddhist were to stop clinging would we expect them to disappear?

    do you think 'stopping the clinging' means die
    then Buddha and all other Arahants should die as soon as they Enlightened
    but it says (whether we believe it or not) Buddha lived 45 years after His Enlightenment

    Like in a puff of smoke? Ha I don't think so.

    =)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Except Buddha told us not to have faith even in his teachings. If none of us can ever prove definitely what happens when we die, then how do we trust it without simply doing so "because he said so." ? He even said "Do not go upon... a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over;" Which to me suggests he doesn't want us to think about imponderables and form a bias about them.

    upekkalobsterKeromeHozan
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Except Buddha told us not to have faith even in his teachings. If none of us can ever prove definitely what happens when we die, then how do we trust it without simply doing so "because he said so." ? He even said "Do not go upon... a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over;" Which to me suggests he doesn't want us to think about imponderables and form a bias about them.

    not to think over the Teaching but test them and see for yourself/ourselves
    if it is true then accept
    if it is not true then reject

    i tested and i see there is Truth in it so i accept it and continue practising (walking) until i reach the destination

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    so what exactly did you do to test rebirth?

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @karasti said:
    so what exactly did you do to test rebirth?

    have you heard/read Dependent Origination (paticca samuppada)
    have you heard/read Four Frame of Reference (sathara-sathi-pattana)

    i have been practising FFR and by doing so you/we will be able to develop Wings to Awakening

    practising FFR is the only way to test Buddha's Teachin

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Yes. But reading is not testing to me. I develop hypotheses for a lot of things. But they aren't proof until they are actually proven (to me). I believe in rebirth for a lot of reasons. But I don't have any proof for it, nor would I claim to.

    Hozan
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @karasti said:
    But reading is not testing to me.

    reading or thinking over what we have read is not testing
    actually thinking increases suffering

    I develop hypotheses for a lot of things. But they aren't proof until they are actually proven (to me). I believe in rebirth for a lot of reasons. But I don't have any proof for it, nor would I claim to.

    that is why i always say we have to have a bit of faith in what Buddha said/Buddha's Teaching
    if so we don't have to develop hypotheses, but just practice Insight meditation (FFR/mindfulness of the body, pain, mind, mental qualities)

    we will be able to see whether DO is True Teaching
    if we can understand/have glimpse of DO we know what is rebirth, how rebirth happens, how one can stop rebirth, why we should stop rebirth

    it goes back again to DO
    because of birth there is suffering
    because of becoming there is birth
    because of clinging there is becoming etc.

    and
    knowing and acting accordingly
    getting rid of ignorance help in getting rid of fabrication
    getting rid of fabrication help in getting rid of consciousness etc. up to
    getting rid of birth help in getting rid of suffering

    if one is with ignorance it is inevitable one is reborn in one of the 31 planes whether one believes or not believe in rebirth

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