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Is Buddhism a pessimistic path?

edited February 2010 in Buddhism for Beginners
[b]Does Buddhism hold a pessimistic view?[/b]

Reading the "Four Noble Truths", one easily gets the impression that Buddhism has a very pessimistic view of life, or rather the enjoyment of it. After all, the first Noble Truth teaches that "Life is suffering". Now how "optimistic" does that sound?

Look for yourself at the first of the "Four Noble Truths" below as described on a Buddhist website, and see what impression you get from it:

[quote][url]http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html[/url]

1. Life means suffering.

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.[/quote]

Obviously, if the foundation of Buddhism is that "life is all about suffering", then it has a generally grim and dismal view of existence. It certainly isn't a positive one, regardless of the fact that it offers a way out of suffering. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Buddhism views all enjoyments and pleasures as ultimately leading to suffering as well. If you read books by Buddhist authors, you will see that that's what they teach. Now if that isn't pessimistic, I don't know what is.

But again, this is an overgeneralized black and white type of thinking. As mentioned earlier, not all pleasures and desires are bad or lead to suffering. Life is not just about "suffering". It is a mixture of joys, pleasures, pain, sorrows, ups and downs, and many variations of emotions, feelings and experiences. Some have more joy and pleasures in their life than others, and some have less.

Also, people are not usually 100 percent unhappy/suffering or 100 percent happy/not suffering at any given moment. Rather, they are a mixture of emotions, feelings and thoughts, which lie in positive, negative and gray areas. Such is the complexity of life. But Buddhism overlooks these complexities and overgeneralizes life as full of suffering, as if suffering were the only constant. While it is true that old age and death are constants for everyone, as the first Noble Truth says, that doesn't mean that some do not live generally happy fulfilling lives before passing on. Many do. Buddhism does not acknowledge this.

The key to sustaining happiness is by cultivating a healthy attitude/outlook on life, developing quality relationships with others, and having "just enough" in the areas of life most important to you, in healthy balances. That works. But Buddhism teaches that only by shedding your attachments to desires and pleasures can you be really happy. That is a very puritanical lifestyle that is not for everyone.

Buddhist teachers usually respond to this charge that "Buddhism is pessimistic" by claiming that it is a misconception. They will usually try to refute it with an explanation that goes like this: (I know cause I've read books by Buddhist teachers and listened to their lectures)

[quote]"Buddhism is not pessimistic. That is a misconception. It is in fact the opposite. The fourth tenet of the Four Noble Truths offers a solution for the cessation of suffering in this world. To provide a path that will end suffering is the greatest message of hope you can ever give humankind. It is the most optimistic thing in the world!"[/quote]

Alright, now, step back a minute and look at what's going on here. They are trying to reframe the whole issue by getting you to shift your perspective to theirs, which is that "the object of life is to end suffering and the karmic cycle of death and rebirth". If that is your objective in life, then sure, Buddhism sounds optimistic.

But that's like changing the subject, for our original focus was on THIS LIFE. From THAT perspective, Buddhism is pessimistic in the sense that it teaches that all desires, pleasures and happy times in this world are transient and ultimately pointless. Suffering is the only reality and constant, so it says. So, Buddhism is pessimistic in that regard. Rather than maximizing life to the fullest, it teaches that one should push and withdraw from the enjoyment of life.

[b]Therefore, regardless of whether Buddhism is pessimistic or optimistic from your perspective, the bottom line is that it definitely discourages the enjoyment and fulfillment of life, its joys and pleasures.[/b] So that point still stands and I see no logical reason why the "Buddhism is pessimistic" charge is a false misconception, as they claim.

But then again, no one wants their religion to appear negative and pessimistic to others, so of course Buddhist teachers will try to reframe this issue by trying to get you see it from another perspective, namely theirs.

Sure they can do that. But that doesn't change the fact that Buddhism has an obviously negative and discouraging view on the enjoyments and fulfillment of pleasures of life, as demonstrated in the previous section. And in fact part of Buddhist practice is to abstain from pleasures, so it is definitely discouraged. This aspect has not been disproven, merely politely sidestepped.

Comments

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2010
    I agree with Thanissaro Bhikkhu that [url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/lifeisnt.html]life isn't just suffering[/url].
  • edited February 2010
    Wait, are you like trying to argue against buddhism here? Just out of curiousity... are you trying to persuade us that buddhism is negative? :)

    Anyway... they way I see it is that life is suffering. You cannot disagree with that. No matter what faith you follow if you desire, you're going to suffer. The truth in itself is real and provable; thus you have two options, you can avoid this and follow some "pretty" religion and ignore the fact that you're going to suffer from your wants or desires, or you can acknowledge the truth in this statement: Life is Suffering, and learn a way not to suffer. Is that pessimistic?
    I think if you looked more so at the causes of suffering, human desires and wants and greed (all which are inarguably qualities inwhich humans posses), the statement will more so to fit in within the context of "life is suffering." I think life is suffering because we allow ourselves to suffer. This, in my humble opinion, is what is really important in the first noble truth. We suffer not because we will inevidiably suffer and there is nothing we can do about it... which would be really pessimistic. But rather we suffer because we allow ourselves to suffer by not understanding the nature of ourselves as well as the true nature of suffering. Henceforth from this realization the statement "life is suffering" will not seem so pessimistic, but rather it will stand simply as it is, and be left for us to do something about it.

    And as far as sensual pleasures go, and enjoying things, whatever they may be, I think you can do whatever you want. But, if you trully understand the nature of desire, then doing such things as going on a date will no longer seem as "fun" as you will understand why you want to do it, and what will actually come of it.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=Now-Is-reality;84047]Wait, are you like trying to argue against buddhism here? Just out of curiousity... are you trying to persuade us that buddhism is negative? :)

    Anyway... they way I see it is that life is suffering. You cannot disagree with that. No matter what faith you follow if you desire, you're going to suffer. The truth in itself is real and provable; thus you have two options, you can avoid this and follow some "pretty" religion and ignore the fact that you're going to suffer from your wants or desires, or you can acknowledge the truth in this statement: Life is Suffering, and learn a way not to suffer. Is that pessimistic?
    I think if you looked more so at the causes of suffering, human desires and wants and greed (all which are inarguably qualities inwhich humans posses), the statement will more so to fit in within the context of "life is suffering." I think life is suffering because we allow ourselves to suffer. This, in my humble opinion, is what is really important in the first noble truth. We suffer not because we will inevidiably suffer and there is nothing we can do about it... which would be really pessimistic. But rather we suffer because we allow ourselves to suffer by not understanding the nature of ourselves as well as the true nature of suffering. Henceforth from this realization the statement "life is suffering" will not seem so pessimistic, but rather it will stand simply as it is, and be left for us to do something about it.

    And as far as sensual pleasures go, and enjoying things, whatever they may be, I think you can do whatever you want. But, if you trully understand the nature of desire, then doing such things as going on a date will no longer seem as "fun" as you will understand why you want to do it, and what will actually come of it.[/quote]

    No I'm trying to argue against the notion that "life is suffering".

    Of course everyone suffers. No one denies that. But that doesn't mean that everything in life is suffering, or that suffering is the only reality in life or that there is more suffering than joy. Some actually experience more joy and happiness in their lives than suffering.

    Are you arguing that the majority of life is suffering and miserable? For some maybe. But not for all. Some seem to be happy most of the time and enjoying themselves.

    You can't generalize Tom Cruise's life for example, with that of a beggar on the street. Both suffer in certain ways, yes, but Tom Cruise has far more happiness and pleasures than the beggar does, and the beggar has far more suffering than Tom Cruise does.

    Buddhism doesn't take this into account, but generalizes everything as suffering. Isn't that inaccurate? Isn't that a flaw of Buddhism?

    I am not against Buddhism. Just asking honest and valid questions.
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited February 2010
    That is according to one person on a one website. And of course if you look at just the first Truth then it seems very pessemistic. However here is what the Buddha actually states:

    "The Nature of Suffering (Dukkha):
    "This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."[8][9]
    Suffering's Origin (Samudaya):
    "This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."[8][9]"

    As you can he explains that things sucject to aging and death, when CLUNG to, are dukkha. Dukkha isnt inherent but somethimg we create out of ignorance. He then provides a path which leads to freedom of dukkha here in this very life.

    Also, "suffering" is a poor translation. There is another thread about this.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=WWu777;84052] Are you arguing that the majority of life is suffering and miserable? For some maybe. But not for all. Some seem to be happy most of the time and enjoying themselves. [/quote]

    No I am not arguing that at all! Sorry for the misunderstanding! :D Okay, what I think is that through life wanting, desiring, or w/e we do, will cause suffering. This does [B]not[/B] mean that we are always suffering. It means that a lot of the things we do, we do with the wrong intentions and allow ourselves to fall into suffering.

    That is not to say that you cannot want a cookie, it means once you get that cookie, let it go, move on. And if you do not get that cookie, rather than holding onto that desire of "I wanted the cookie now I am not going to get it" realize that the attatchment to our wants, and our unwillingness to let them go, is what causes suffering.

    [quote]You can't generalize Tom Cruise's life for example, with that of a beggar on the street. Both suffer in certain ways, yes, but Tom Cruise has far more happiness and pleasures than the beggar does, and the beggar has far more suffering than Tom Cruise does.

    Buddhism doesn't take this into account, but generalizes everything as suffering. Isn't that inaccurate? Isn't that a flaw of Buddhism?[/quote]

    Doesn't it though? As the buddha said:
    "Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”

    So no, I don't think that is a flaw of buddhism... no one said that everyone suffers equally. Your absolutly right Tom Cruise suffers less than a homeless person on a street. Just like a homeless person on a street suffers less than a starving person in Sudan. But, each has their own suffering. But I think you are only looking at one type of suffering!

    Okay, you'e absolutly right that illness and starvation, etc, causes suffering. But what if I really really really want an apple, but I cannot have an apple because the store is sold out? I wasted my time driving to the store just to find there was no more apples. Now I suffer because damnit, I wanted that apple! What if I go on a date with a guy, and i expected him to be Prince charming but he isn't... and because he didn't meet my expectaions I am upset, thus I suffer. Or what if I dream about becoming and actress and making millions of dollars... when this plan falls through I am going to suffer! But lets say the plan does go through! I am now an actress, I make millions of dollors, for awhile I have a lot of publicity... but what about when people become less interested in me? When I grow old and no one cares to take pictures of me? What then? I will stop making money, I will yearn for more attention... I will suffer!



    [quote]I am not against Buddhism. Just asking honest and valid questions.[/quote]

    I understand that! :) I am not trying to be mean or anything, just trying to understand what you are saying, and where you are coming from, and offering my own justification.

    And yes, the statement in itself is pessimistic... I totally agree... but what it means is very much based off of how you interpret it.
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE]Buddhism doesn't take this into account, but generalizes everything as suffering. Isn't that inaccurate? Isn't that a flaw of Buddhism?[/QUOTE]

    Buddhism generalizes all impermanent things which are clung to as I/self/mine as -dukkha-. The happiness we gain from impermanent things isn't true happiness. We aren't satisfied until we get what we want. Then we cling as if it were permanent- but when it gets stolen, dies, breaks... We experience dukkha. Or we never even truly just enjoy it because we fear the day those things will inevitably happen even if it's just a subtle thought in the vack of our minds. The Buddha taught unconditioned peace and true happiness... Peace and happiness entirely in the present moment with no clinging.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=WWu777;84052]Buddhism doesn't take this into account, but generalizes everything as suffering. Isn't that inaccurate? Isn't that a flaw of Buddhism?[/QUOTE]

    Actually, Buddhism doesn't generalize everything as suffering. I suggest reading the link I posted above.
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited February 2010
    Tom Cruise vs. Homeless beggar-

    Buddhism isn't concerned with this. Dukkha isn't refering to such things. Dukkha is living outside the present, being unsatisfied mentally or having an unsettled mind that clings to things for happiness. Tom Cruise may very well experience more dukkha than a person living on the streets. What you describe is just life. In Buddhism the aim would be to live in complete peace and contentment in either person's case.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=o0Mundus-Vult-Decipi0o;84058]Buddhism generalizes all impermanent things which are clung to as I/self/mine as -dukkha-. The happiness we gain from impermanent things isn't true happiness. We aren't satisfied until we get what we want. Then we cling as if it were permanent- but when it gets stolen, dies, breaks... We experience dukkha. Or we never even truly just enjoy it because we fear the day those things will inevitably happen even if it's just a subtle thought in the vack of our minds. The Buddha taught unconditioned peace and true happiness... Peace and happiness entirely in the present moment with no clinging.[/quote]

    Good point/ post mundus! That's basically the gist of it WWu777!
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2010
    Suffering... you know it when you see it.

    I wish you could see my lama. She is very funny in her dharma talks. If you are really happy then you are not grasping which is good. The suffering is when there is grasping.

    The third noble truth is the optimistic one. That there is a possibility of an end to suffering.
  • edited February 2010
    I agree most with phrasing the First Noble Truth as; [B]I have suffering[/B], which informs me that I'm ultimately responsible for my own suffering or [B]Suffering Happens [/B], which helps me be less attached to it - kinda like 'stuff' happens, get used to it! Okay.

    :):):)
  • jinzangjinzang Veteran
    edited February 2010
    The question isn't whether Buddhism is pessimistic or optimistic, it's whether it's realistic, Did the Buddha accurately describe how things are, Buddhism talks about three kinds of suffering. The first is manifest suffering, the kind we are all aware of. But it also talks about the suffering of change, which is the subtle anxiety we have when things are going well, because we know the happiness can be lost. An example of this is a parent anxious about their child. The third kind of suffering is hardest to see, it's the subtle suffering associated with conditioned existence. Only someone who has experienced the unconditioned is aware of this kind of suffering. So when people describe Buddhism as too pessimistic, they are not seeing two thirds of the picture that Buddha saw.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=WWu777;84038]..... After all, the first Noble Truth teaches that "Life is suffering". Now how "optimistic" does that sound? [/quote]

    I know exactly what you mean, and it's what put me off looking into Buddhism for a long while.
    To anybody who briefly glances at Buddhism (as many do in this shallow sound bite society) it looks like it's saying "Life is miserable, but do what we tell you and things might be tolerable".
    Maybe "Life [I]can[/I] be suffering, but there is a better way" would be better :D .
  • edited February 2010
    Never been taught that "Life is Dukkha"..... only "Dukkha is present", or "There is Dukkha". That is an immediate first-hand recognition, and the beginning of the end of Dukkha.

    With the ending of Dukkha , life is Sukha. Non-suffering.
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=WWu777;84052]No I'm trying to argue against the notion that "life is suffering".

    Of course everyone suffers. No one denies that. But that doesn't mean that everything in life is suffering, or that suffering is the only reality in life or that there is more suffering than joy. Some actually experience more joy and happiness in their lives than suffering.

    Are you arguing that the majority of life is suffering and miserable? For some maybe. But not for all. Some seem to be happy most of the time and enjoying themselves.

    [/QUOTE]

    But of course life has its beautiful and enjoyable moments. Surely you agree that all good things must come to an end. That is a realistic view. Only when one truly accepts with equanimity that all is impermanent does the danger of clinging diminish.


    [QUOTE]You can't generalize Tom Cruise's life for example, with that of a beggar on the street. Both suffer in certain ways, yes, but Tom Cruise has far more happiness and pleasures than the beggar does, and the beggar has far more suffering than Tom Cruise does.

    Buddhism doesn't take this into account, but generalizes everything as suffering. Isn't that inaccurate? Isn't that a flaw of Buddhism?[/QUOTE]

    Tom Cruise is luckier than the beggar, sure. But he is still subjected to aging, illness, separation and death. If he expects his good looks and fame to remain he is going to be disappointed. Why do you think many celebrities who are past their prime become addicted to drugs, cosmetic surgery etc? Think Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson.

    A flower falls,
    even though we love it;
    and a weed grows,
    even though we do not love it.

    Buddhism teaches you to train your mind to achieve a state of peace and happiness.

    Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions...
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peA6vy0D5Bg[/url]
  • edited February 2010
    Hey... I came across this, and this helped explain it to me alot! If you would just take the time to read it, I am sure it will be presented in a way that is understandable and maybe acceptable. [URL]http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=707.0[/URL]
  • edited February 2010
    thank you. very nice and precise.
  • edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=jinzang;84202]The question isn't whether Buddhism is pessimistic or optimistic, it's whether it's realistic, Did the Buddha accurately describe how things are, Buddhism talks about three kinds of suffering. The first is manifest suffering, the kind we are all aware of. But it also talks about the suffering of change, which is the subtle anxiety we have when things are going well, because we know the happiness can be lost. An example of this is a parent anxious about their child. The third kind of suffering is hardest to see, it's the subtle suffering associated with conditioned existence. Only someone who has experienced the unconditioned is aware of this kind of suffering. So when people describe Buddhism as too pessimistic, they are not seeing two thirds of the picture that Buddha saw.[/QUOTE]Thanks for this, Jinzang. Another clear, understandable, and extremely helpful, post from you.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=pegembara;84273]But of course life has its beautiful and enjoyable moments. Surely you agree that all good things must come to an end. That is a realistic view. Only when one truly accepts with equanimity that all is impermanent does the danger of clinging diminish.[/quote]

    Hi pegembara,

    Yes I agree that Buddhism is realistic in saying that all good things come to an end. But it doesn't acknowledge that all bad things come to an end too.

    Instead, it seems heavily biased toward the pain and suffering part, insinuating that suffering is the true reality while joy/happiness are temporary illusions. Do you see what I mean?

    After all, why doesn't it say that pain, sorrow, sadness and suffering are illusions that will pass too?

    See my point? Doesn't that reflect a bias?

    For example, take Babe Ruth. He had the record in home runs as well as strike outs. Now if you said that his strike outs were the true reality while his home runs were just a mere illusion, wouldn't that be unfair as well as inaccurate?

    Also, I have another question for you. How does Buddhism explain the old adage that "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"?

    This adage means that most would agree that it is better to experience love, romance or sex, even if it leads to the pain of loss afterward, than to not experience them at all. It seems to make us feel more "alive" so to speak.

    So if no desires are better than having desire, how does that explain the above adage?

    What do you think?
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=jinzang;84202]The question isn't whether Buddhism is pessimistic or optimistic, it's whether it's realistic, Did the Buddha accurately describe how things are, Buddhism talks about three kinds of suffering. The first is manifest suffering, the kind we are all aware of. But it also talks about the suffering of change, which is the subtle anxiety we have when things are going well, because we know the happiness can be lost. An example of this is a parent anxious about their child. The third kind of suffering is hardest to see, it's the subtle suffering associated with conditioned existence. Only someone who has experienced the unconditioned is aware of this kind of suffering. So when people describe Buddhism as too pessimistic, they are not seeing two thirds of the picture that Buddha saw.[/quote]

    I don't understand the third kind of suffering here. Isn't it the same as the second? Perhaps it is something that words can't describe, as you say.
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=WWu777;84970]I don't understand the third kind of suffering here. Isn't it the same as the second? Perhaps it is something that words can't describe, as you say.[/quote]
    The third kind of suffering is the suffering of being conditioned, it refers to all experience that is bound up with the ordinary psycho-physical aggregates/skandas. No matter whether we are experiencing temporary pleasure or suffering, or even a neutral state, we are always setting ourselves up for future suffering. Why? Because our present skandas are direct causes for our future skandhas, which will be the supports for suffering in the future.
    That means all our present experiences are in some way the causes for sufferings that will come to us later on. Since the skandas are conditioned, impermanent and subject to karma and change they will always end up as a source of suffering, unless we are liberated from conditioned existence through practicing the path.
    Every aspect of our conditioned existence brings with it the potential for future suffering, so it is also known as the ‘all-pervasive suffering of conditioned existence.’
  • edited February 2010
    [quote=WWu777;84969]After all, why doesn't it say that pain, sorrow, sadness and suffering are illusions that will pass too?
    [/quote]

    Hi Wu,

    He did, it's right there in the 3rd and 4th noble truth.

    1) There is dukkha
    2) There is the cause of dukkha
    [B]3) There is an end to dukkha[/B]
    [B]4) There is the path that leads to the end of dukkha.[/B]

    See, not so bad. :)
  • ValtielValtiel Veteran
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE]This adage means that most would agree that it is better to experience love, romance or sex, even if it leads to the pain of loss afterward, than to not experience them at all. It seems to make us feel more "alive" so to speak.

    So if no desires are better than having desire, how does that explain the above adage?[/QUOTE]

    Buddhism isn't about not having desires. It's about not clinging to them. It's about unconditioned happiness and ease of mind. It's about peace and happiness despite whether your desires are fulfilled or not.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=WWu777;84969]Hi pegembara,

    Yes I agree that Buddhism is realistic in saying that all good things come to an end. But it doesn't acknowledge that all bad things come to an end too.[/QUOTE]
    YES
    It
    DOES...

    [QUOTE]Instead, it seems heavily biased toward the pain and suffering part, insinuating that suffering is the true reality while joy/happiness are temporary illusions. Do you see what I mean?[/QUOTE]
    No. it is you who do not see what we mean.
    the questionable accuracy of the word 'suffering' as a translation of Dukkha has already been explained to you ad nauseam.
    Understand this, and understand this well:
    EVERYTHING is impermanent.
    laughter, happiness, stress, suffering good, bad, healthy unhealthy, big, little, fat. thin, black, white you, me, everything. It's all impermanent.

    we have tried to get this through to you, but you persist in this stubborn, obstinate and intransigent view that Buddhism states that only joy is impermanent.
    YOU HAVE IT WRONG.

    is that clear enough for you?
    YOU ARE MISTAKEN.

    [QUOTE]After all, why doesn't it say that pain, sorrow, sadness and suffering are illusions that will pass too?[/QUOTE]
    It does. you're just choosing to not get it. because you're stuyck on this 'suffering' word.

    [QUOTE]See my point? Doesn't that reflect a bias?[/QUOTE]
    No, but you do....

    [QUOTE]For example, take Babe Ruth. He had the record in home runs as well as strike outs. Now if you said that his strike outs were the true reality while his home runs were just a mere illusion, wouldn't that be unfair as well as inaccurate?[/QUOTE]
    yes.
    But we're not saying that. Are we?

    [QUOTE]Also, I have another question for you. How does Buddhism explain the old adage that "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"?

    This adage means that most would agree that it is better to experience love, romance or sex, even if it leads to the pain of loss afterward, than to not experience them at all. It seems to make us feel more "alive" so to speak.[/QUOTE]
    Right...

    [QUOTE]So if no desires are better than having desire, how does that explain the above adage?[/QUOTE]
    it means that you should have desires, but not get attached to them. it's ok to want something. But it has to be equally ok to let it go.

    [QUOTE]What do you think?[/QUOTE]
    I think your understanding is severely impaired and you're either obtuse, or trolling.
  • edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=WWu777;84969]Also, I have another question for you. How does Buddhism explain the old adage that "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"?

    This adage means that most would agree that it is better to experience love, romance or sex, even if it leads to the pain of loss afterward, than to not experience them at all. It seems to make us feel more "alive" so to speak.

    So if no desires are better than having desire, how does that explain the above adage?[/QUOTE]

    I think the problems in your other points have been already been illuminated, so I'll take a stab at this one. In terms of the dominant world-view that most people share, this adage is correct. That is, some experiences are better than others, and by obtaining some things instead of others, one is in a better position than before - one has gained something for oneself. Gain and loss are real, and happiness is conditioned (because you have experienced X and have obtained Y, you are happy).

    The problem with this world-view is that it is manifestly false. Scientists have observed that events generally have very little effect on one's level of happiness. We perpetually overestimate both how happy gaining something makes us and how unhappy losing something makes us. [URL="http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html"]This[/URL] is a very good video on this subject. The Buddha discovered this 2500 years ago and delineated a path to obtaining an unconditioned happiness. He found that our clinging to the illusory self-the thoughts that "I am the one experiencing this, this is my experience, this I am feeling, this is mine" are actually the very cause of our suffering.

    Far from being a pessimistic philosophy, the Buddha is actually pointing out the suffering inherent in the traditional view of "This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am." It is by rejecting these illusions and training the mind in skillful means that we can find a true serenity and happiness.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=WWu777;84969]Instead, it seems heavily biased toward the pain and suffering part, insinuating that suffering is the true reality while joy/happiness are temporary illusions. Do you see what I mean?

    After all, why doesn't it say that pain, sorrow, sadness and suffering are illusions that will pass too?

    See my point? Doesn't that reflect a bias?[/QUOTE]

    Do me a favour, WWu777, show me where the Buddha says that happiness is an illusion and suffering is the "true reality." Otherwise, your critique is meaningless and I'm just going to assume that you're trolling. And just for reference, I can show you where the Buddha talks about bliss/happiness ([i]sukha[/i]) in very real terms (e.g., [url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.028.than.html]AN 5.28[/url], [url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.062.than.html]AN 4.62[/url], [url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.15.budd.html]Dhp 197-208[/url], etc.), as well as where he declares that reality is a name for nibbana (SN 4.195).
  • Quiet_witnessQuiet_witness Veteran
    edited February 2010
    My teacher explained it with this analogy... some people abstain from getting a cute puppy because they know it will die and they will feel bad. Others get so many cute puppies that even if one dies they won't miss it because they have too many to notice. But we on the middle path get a puppy, love it, learn from it, share with it, and understand it like us will one day die.

    That is in no way pessimistic. It is pragmatic and realistic. Of the three who is the happiest?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited February 2010
    [QUOTE=federica;85002]
    I think your understanding is severely impaired and you're either obtuse, or trolling.[/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE=Jason;85027].... Otherwise, your critique is meaningless and I'm just going to assume that you're just trolling. [/QUOTE]

    One more thread like this one, and I'll show him what we do to trolls, round here....:mad:
  • edited February 2010
    Oh No!:eek:
  • NomaDBuddhaNomaDBuddha Scalpel wielder :) Bucharest Veteran
    edited February 2010
    In my own opinion, buddhism is not a pessimistic religion , but it's a realistic one :D !!
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