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Fatalism

Out of my talks with many Buddhists online, I gathered the following beliefs bordering on fatalism

That everything is impermanent and the teaching of dharma will not exist forever

That the influence Buddhism has already passed its highest point and is now under the process of decay.

That it is not surprising to see Buddhism in the world today as it is

That it is okay not to resist the onslaught of adharma in defense of Dharma

That it is okay if we died rather than disturb our tranquility of mind

In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

Most of the people I have talked to were followers of Theravada. What I wish to know is whether Mahayana or other schools also have a similar mode of thinking as to the means to be followed. Is fatalism a character of Buddhism as a whole?Can someone throw more light on this?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    First of all, as a follower of Theravada myself, I think you misinterpret things when you end up by saying 'Nothing Matters".

    As far as I am aware, that is far from true, and is not a view held or even advanced by Theravada.

    Secondly, Buddhism is NOT fatalistic.

    Hinduism may be, (I don't know enough about it to be sure) and nihilism is a completely different matter.

    But Buddhism?
    Fatalistic?

    No.

    vinlynTheswingisyellowkarastilobster
  • None of what I said was my interpretation. The first two are word for word from a Theravada Buddhist . Please do not mistake me, I am here with the hope that they are wrong and that there is a strong call for positive social defense in Theravada.

    Is there any scriptural basis for the claim that even Dharma is impermanent?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    can you name me anything that isn't?

  • Hmm...What?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Maybe this wll help.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel186.html#fact

    The Dhamma is unchanging.
    it is we who change; therefore, our View of the Dhamma also changes, and we perceive things in a different way.
    because we change, the Dhamma 'changes'.

  • AgneyamAgneyam New
    edited May 2015

    The permanence of impermanence....

    "Unlike the Sautraantikas, the Theravaadins do not deny the static phase (.thiti) of a momentary dhamma. The Theravada argument in support of their accepting the static phase is as follows: It is true that a dhamma that originates should also cease to exist."

    I read through the article but I could not find the idea of "unchanging dhamma" . Did I miss something?

    Thank you for the effort.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran

    Mahayana, like most branches of Buddhism and any other system invented by people, has its potential problems. It doesn't help your practice to ignore or deny the pitfalls that might await any of us.

    Fatalism certainly exists in many people's misunderstanding of Buddhist philosophy. For one thing, karma and rebirth is often misunderstood to mean people deserve the suffering they are inflicted with in this lifetime. It's a short step to then shrugging your shoulders and saying who are we to interfere with someone working off their bad karma, no matter what injustice is done to them.

  • There is certainly no need for Mahayana bashing. Personally I dont believe Buddhism or any other system for that matter is "divinely" inspired or supernatural or anything , but I am more than aware that it was the effort of brilliant men who over many millennium,even before the Buddha himself ,reasoned and analysed the world of flux and formulated the unbested tower or Buddhist philosophy and Logic. And yes, any man made construct will have flaws.

    Fatalism seems to be one of them. How else would Buddhism have vanished from central Asia and India during turbulent times without putting up a fight?It was while discussing this particular point that I found this issue raised. As you said, it may be because of the influences of later buddhist writers, or maybe its seeds may have been sowed by Gautama himself. I dont know . I would be grateful if someone familiar with the cannon could present some scriptural references on this matter.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Well, to my mind, @Jason's pretty up on it....

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran

    @Agneyam I should have quoted the question I was responding to, if it was possible Mahayana had a similar streak of fatalism as other traditions. I hope you didn't think I was bashing my own chosen path. Just pointing out it was no better or worse.

    Earthninja
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Everything is impermanent. However, that doesn't mean everything doesn't matter. The way it was explained to me that I found helpful is that Buddhism applies both to absolute and relative aspects of life. Some times things are discussed in groups or classes, in debates, or in sutras that are talking more of an absolute view even though we live in a relative world. So you have to learn how to separate them out and realize which is being talked about so that you aren't trying to apply absolute terms and ideals to your relative world/life.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    That things are impermanent, dukkha and not-self is a truth.
    Fatalism is not accepting reality as it really is.
    Fatalism is wanting reality to be what it is not.
    As it is, fatalism is in the eye of the beholder.

    Theswingisyellow
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Buddhism (in general) has a pop culture reputation for being nihilistic, cold, and downright depressing (especially for theists who have come to count on a benevolent super-being who will set it all 'right' at the end).

    I think there must be some presuppositions in place for a thinking human being to conclude that Buddhism is fatalistic, depressing and so forth.

    To ask Buddhism (or it's Buddhists) to explain how Buddhism is NOT fatalistic is asking the wrong persons. The cause of the fatalist apprehension lies within the observer, not the philosophy.

    EarthninjaDavidCinorjer
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    That's just it...

    Who says something has to last forever to have meaning?

    I'll never understand that reasoning.
    lobsterVastmind
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Agneyam said:
    In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

    Exactly so. It certainly does matter, Nothing that is ...

    The temporary Mahayana upstarts describe it this way:
    Emptiness or Nothing is Form, Form or Fatalism is nothing worth anything.

    or in other words Nirvana (Permanency) and samsara are the same.

    I don't expect that to presently make sense but ignorance is temporary. Hurrah! <3

    Zenni
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Oooh, that is most certainly quote-worthy, @Jeffrey.

    Nicely done.

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Agneyam said:
    None of what I said was my interpretation. The first two are word for word from a Theravada Buddhist . Please do not mistake me, I am here with the hope that they are wrong and that there is a strong call for positive social defense in Theravada.

    Is there any scriptural basis for the claim that even Dharma is impermanent?

    There is a distinction between the Dhamma as in the Buddha's teachings and Dhamma as the Reality or Nature.

    The teachings are of course impermanent but Reality remains regardless. In fact whether Earth is here or not doesn't change Dhamma/Nature.

    "Monks, whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All processes are inconstant.

    "The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All processes are inconstant.

    "Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All processes are stressful.

    "The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All processes are stressful.

    "Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.[1]

    "The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.134.than.html

    lobsterZenshinCinorjer
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @Agneyam said:
    Out of my talks with many Buddhists online, I gathered the following beliefs bordering on fatalism

    That everything is impermanent and the teaching of dharma will not exist forever

    That the influence Buddhism has already passed its highest point and is now under the process of decay.

    That it is not surprising to see Buddhism in the world today as it is

    That it is okay not to resist the onslaught of adharma in defense of Dharma

    That it is okay if we died rather than disturb our tranquility of mind

    In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

    Most of the people I have talked to were followers of Theravada. What I wish to know is whether Mahayana or other schools also have a similar mode of thinking as to the means to be followed. Is fatalism a character of Buddhism as a whole?Can someone throw more light on this?

    -The truth of the matter is when we are born we will get sick, grow old and die. What we choose to do with that reality is up to us. Is that view fatalistic or realistic?

    Zenshin
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    Could be that purpose is made and not found.

    If some find there is no purpose then I propose they are just being lazy and looking for an excuse to slack off.
    Earthninja
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited June 2015

    @Agneyam said:
    Out of my talks with many Buddhists online, I gathered the following beliefs bordering on fatalism

    That everything is impermanent and the teaching of dharma will not exist forever

    That the influence Buddhism has already passed its highest point and is now under the process of decay.

    That it is not surprising to see Buddhism in the world today as it is

    That it is okay not to resist the onslaught of adharma in defense of Dharma

    That it is okay if we died rather than disturb our tranquility of mind

    In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

    Most of the people I have talked to were followers of Theravada. What I wish to know is whether Mahayana or other schools also have a similar mode of thinking as to the means to be followed. Is fatalism a character of Buddhism as a whole?Can someone throw more light on this?

    Conditioned things have the nature of arising and passing away. Name one that doesn't. As for the Dhamma, the word points to the truth of things as they are, and regardless of what that is or if that truth changes, it's constant in the sense that of being what is. So even though what the Buddha discovered is there for us to also discover, what he taught, these teachings within space and time, are subject to the processes of change and dissolution. One way or another, they'll be altered and/or lost. That doesn't mean, however, that nothing matters. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to understand what the Buddha taught so that we, too, can discover this truth. Nor does it mean that we shouldn't try to preserve those teachings or try to help others reach the same insights.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited May 2015

    @Agneyam said:
    There is certainly no need for Mahayana bashing. Personally I dont believe Buddhism or any other system for that matter is "divinely" inspired or supernatural or anything , but I am more than aware that it was the effort of brilliant men who over many millennium,even before the Buddha himself ,reasoned and analysed the world of flux and formulated the unbested tower or Buddhist philosophy and Logic. And yes, any man made construct will have flaws.

    Fatalism seems to be one of them. How else would Buddhism have vanished from central Asia and India during turbulent times without putting up a fight?It was while discussing this particular point that I found this issue raised. As you said, it may be because of the influences of later buddhist writers, or maybe its seeds may have been sowed by Gautama himself. I dont know . I would be grateful if someone familiar with the cannon could present some scriptural references on this matter.

    The history of the decline of Buddhism in India is complicated and involves a lot of factors. One of those factors may be some kind of passive fatalism, but I think much of it had to do with a combination of migration and persecution that ultimately pushed Buddhism out of India and into the rest of the world. If it was primarily due to fatalism, why would they have bothered trying to spread and preserve the teachings at all?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    Also, something I wrote before in a somewhat similar discussion a while back:

    Personally, I don't put too much stock in the whole 'we're living in a degenerate age' thing. One reason is that much of what forms the textual basis for this idea in Theravada is of a fairly late date and/or from the commentarial literature. The Anagatavamsa, for example, which talks about the coming of Metteyya, is a relatively late text and isn't canonical. The Gandhavamsa ascribes authorship to the elder Kassapa, the author of the Mohavicchedani (12th -13th century CE).

    And then there's the 500 year prophecy, which deals with both the brute survival of the teaching and the survival of the teaching unadulterated with 'synthetic Dhamma' (saddhamma-patirupa), isn't only controversial and considered by many to be a later addition, but also held by many who do accept it as being conditional (e.g., many hold that the acceptance of the additional rules on the part of the bhikkhunis and the subsequent council after the Buddha's death altered this, acting as conditions for the teachings' survival far into the future).

    Moreover, while some things seem to be getting 'worse,' partially thanks to the modern-day, 24hr news cycle continually bombarding us with bad news, many things are actually getting better, such as the overall decline in violence worldwide, better health and increased life expectancy, etc. As Lincoln noted, "In every age there are folks who think it's the end times, that society is ripping at the seams, or that we're descending into a morale morass," whether it's true or not.

  • @Agneyam said:
    Out of my talks with many Buddhists online, I gathered the following beliefs bordering on fatalism

    That everything is impermanent and the teaching of dharma will not exist forever

    That the influence Buddhism has already passed its highest point and is now under the process of decay.

    That it is not surprising to see Buddhism in the world today as it is

    That it is okay not to resist the onslaught of adharma in defense of Dharma

    That it is okay if we died rather than disturb our tranquility of mind

    In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

    Most of the people I have talked to were followers of Theravada. What I wish to know is whether Mahayana or other schools also have a similar mode of thinking as to the means to be followed. Is fatalism a character of Buddhism as a whole?Can someone throw more light on this?

    I care less and less about beliefs every day, because my experience, thus perception of reality, has yet to match what I "believe" about it. Maybe beliefs are the problem.

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

    @Deformed said "I care less and less about beliefs every day, because my experience, thus perception of reality, has yet to match what I "believe" about it. Maybe beliefs are > > the problem."

    Yes, beliefs are the (a) problem - certain kinds of beliefs, anyway. I think it comes under the heading of that clinging thing.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Hamsaka said:
    Buddhism (in general) has a pop culture reputation for being nihilistic, cold, and downright depressing (especially for theists who have come to count on a benevolent super-being who will set it all 'right' at the end).

    I am always surprised when I hear this. I have never heard Buddhism described this way. Perhaps it's a Christian point of view?

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    ??? Maybe I missed something. You have never heard Buddhism described that way, but you're always surprised when you hear it.

    Could you clarify?

    Thanks!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    That is a kind of confusing conclusion, @Bunks.... you're 'always' surprised when you hear it... but you've 'never' heard Buddhism described this way...? You mean as in 'described by other Buddhists'....?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Ha! Good point.....

    I meant that I have never heard anyone actually say that about Buddhism.

    But I have heard plenty of people say that Buddhism is often described that way.

    Does that make sense?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I have heard it said to me, but only once; and that was by someone wanting to pick a verbal sparring match with me.... He didn't get his wish....

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Yes, I have heard it directly a few times, as well.

    And seen it in action sometimes in Thailand.

  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran

    A bad omen would be the day when noble disciples who are in the higher training are being told how to practice by wordling teachers and practitioners who don't know and don't see the Dhamma.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @Agneyam said:
    The permanence of impermanence....

    "Unlike the Sautraantikas, the Theravaadins do not deny the static phase (.thiti) of a momentary dhamma. The Theravada argument in support of their accepting the static phase is as follows: It is true that a dhamma that originates should also cease to exist."

    I read through the article but I could not find the idea of "unchanging dhamma" . Did I miss something?

    Thank you for the effort.

    Where does the dharma originate?

    If it doesn't originate then it won't cease though it could be forgotten.

    The permanence of impermanence is another way of saying the constant of change.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @Bunks said:
    Ha! Good point.....

    I meant that I have never heard anyone actually say that about Buddhism.

    But I have heard plenty of people say that Buddhism is often described that way.

    Does that make sense?

    It does to me.

    I agree with what you meant...I read/hear it here, especially by newbies, that it's described that way..but I have never actually heard it out of someone's mouth. TBH...I think it's that person who actually is in the process of feeling/thinking that way...their own misunderstanding...but want to pin it on someone else...so they dont feel 'alone' or don't have to own up to it..."someone told me" ...always makes people feel more comfortable....does that make sense? ......hahaha.

    Notice in the OP..' I gathered'. After a little study and understanding he/she will/might realize they gathered wrong.

    No one in their right mind would follow something and then in the same breath say.."it's so depressing and nothing matters"...then show up for hours on end at the Temple or put all the time and energy into it...I got what you were sayin' :smiley:

    Davidsilver
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Thanks @Vastmind.

    It reminds me of how the news media turns everything into sound bites and says "the so-called blah, blah, blah"

    So called? By who? Only bloody you!!

    Rant over.

    Vastmindsilver
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @federica said:
    I have heard it said to me, but only once; and that was by someone wanting to pick a verbal sparring match with me.... He didn't get his wish....

    My Christian friend nurse, who was going to university to get her nursing bachelor's degree, took a Comparative Religion class and I was really looking forward to discussing Buddhism with her, and some of the ways a big ole Abrahamic religion might interface with an Eastern-derived religion. Well!

    Our discussion began with another nurse walking in and saying "oh, I think Buddhism and Christianity are so similar!" and my Christian friend, normally open-minded and nonjudgmental (she's lived abroad until a few years ago, missed out on American evangelicism) shot back "Oh no it's not!"

    And then proceeded to describe Buddhism as fatalistic and so forth. That added an interesting dimension to our talk LOL. Turns out she was attending a Christian university, and the text book was decidedly dry and uninspiring about religions other than the Big Three (Christian, Islam, Judaism).

    I was not in a place to 'defend' or even explain Buddhism well at the time, mainly because I FELT defensive :D . What's to defend or explain? She was not curious at all, though a generally open minded person.

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @Agneyam 
    In short, That NOTHING MATTERS.

    And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no contemplatives or brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit>aka/mn/mn.117.than.html

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