Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The Problem of Suffering

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited May 27 in Buddhism Basics

I was wondering, is it right for buddhism to focus so much on suffering? Yes, we all encounter illness, old age and death, but before then we have a good seventy years of health and well functioning bodies. It seems premature to spend so much time in that period on difficulties which present themselves later, when we could be just celebrating life.

It seems like dispassion and cessation, nirvana’s blowing out of the candle flame, is a very drastic solution to something that many may not consider to be a problem. If you are a bit careful about how you deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible.

«1

Comments

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran Veteran

    You seem to associate suffering with old age or ill health but suffering can occur to anyone at any age. If you define suffering as wanting things to be different than they are then it is a lifelong condition for most people.

    lobsterKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Yes indeed, “being united with what we don’t want and being separated from what we do want”. But these seem to me to be pretty limited forms of suffering, most people learn to live with them, and still find happiness.

    The longer I think on it, the more sympathy I have for Thich Nhat Hanh’s standpoint, that happiness and suffering are linked.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    It isn't necessarily a binary where we are either miserable and want out or our lives are tolerable and happy. My experience of the path has been that of an increase in my ground level of happiness as I can unravel and let go of my unskillful mental conditioning and develop more wholesome states of mind.

    Don't forget too that multiple lives play an important role in dictating the Buddhist view. We may have 100 years of perfect happiness but eventually that ends and at some point in the future we will end up in misery again.

    Also, to some extent if we take as an assumption that life is supposed to be pleasant and happy then difficulties may strike us as more painful and unfair than if we assume that life is difficult. And conversely if we assume that life is in the nature of suffering we may be more appreciative of good things when we have them.

    BunksKerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    If you are a bit careful about how you deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible.

    Sometimes.

    Times change. If we are a bit more than careful and prepare well, we are increasingly independent of outer happiness, the possible, the impossible and the ranges of karma.

    Think of a happiness independent of karmic weather. That is The Path.

    Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the hostile. Amidst hostile men* we dwell free from hatred.
    ~ Dhammapada 197
    http://www.parami.org/why-are-buddhists-happy-and-peaceful/

    *men includes lady boys, gals, women and spiders.
    I am very happy to report my house spiders are now much happier, they were looking a little pale over winter. Summer crop of meals on wings are being happily sucked dry ... it also includes flies, moths and crocodiles - unfortunately I don't have any crocs ... o:)

    Fosdickperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s odd that life seems to hold that many kinds of suffering are good for you. Exercise can be suffering, yet it builds up the body. No pain, no gain and all that. Giving birth is suffering, yet everybody is happy to see new babies, nobody talks about the suffering. Hard labour can be suffering.

    person
  • 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 think first of all, we need to understand that suffering comes in many guises.
    You speak of physical ordeals bringing about good results, but it has been proven that punishing the body is not the right way to muscle-build. And I not happy at all to see new babies because the world really doesn't need another single one. Yet we keep breeding prolifically, and creating an ever-increasing population on a planet that really has only so much to give, and we're already stretching it.

    Suffering first of all begins in the Mind.

    if it were not so, there would be no Legal courts, from the small claims to the highest Criminal courts. They exist because of suffering of every conceivable kind.
    There would be no dissatisfied customers, who feel unfairly treated and cheated, demanding redress of some kind.
    There would be no road rage, no incidents requiring Police intervention, no drug teams breaking down front doors to raid a cannabis farm, no protests about poor Local Government service, no elections, no EU, no separate countries, demanding their borders be respected and reinforced.

    Every single one of those incidents is the suffering in someone's Mind that they want what they want, and it's unfair if they don't get their way.

    So for you to state that,

    ..these seem to me to be pretty limited forms of suffering, most people learn to live with them, and still find happiness.

    Is actually incredibly naive and if I may say so, a narrow view bordering on ignorance (as in uncomprehending of what the term "suffering" actually implies).

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited May 28

    @Kerome said:
    It’s odd that life seems to hold that many kinds of suffering are good for you. Exercise can be suffering, yet it builds up the body. No pain, no gain and all that. Giving birth is suffering, yet everybody is happy to see new babies, nobody talks about the suffering. Hard labour can be suffering.

    There's a concept known as antifragility. Some systems are fragile, like a glass, if you stress it (drop it), it will break. Some systems are resilient like a plastic cup if you drop it, it will hold its form. But some systems are antifragile, they need small stresses to build strength and resilience. The immune system is a good example, as children we need to be exposed to some amount of contamination to build a healthy immune response, a too sterile environment and our bodies aren't able to properly respond to the world.

    In general people are antifragile, we're sort of evolved that way, without some level of stressors in our lives we become less able to handle larger stressors. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or the whole concept of post traumatic growth.

    How we contextualize those stressors have a lot to do with the level of mental suffering we create. Take the exercise example, if you just woke up one morning feeling like you might after a hard workout without the context of having worked out the previous day, you would probably be worried about your health and go see a doctor. We can also contextualize the difficulties in our life as painful suffering to be avoided or as weights helping us to grow.

    ...But there’s another view that is now I think ascendant, which I think is just a horrible view, which is that “I need to be safe ideologically. I need to be safe emotionally I just need to feel good all the time, and if someone says something that I don’t like, that’s a problem for everybody else including the administration.”

    I think that is a terrible idea for the following reason: I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different.

    I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym..."

    ~Van Jones

    KeromeJeffrey
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    It seems like dispassion and cessation, nirvana’s blowing out of the candle flame, is a very drastic solution to something that many may not consider to be a problem.

    People who don't consider it a problem generally aren't the ones wanting to practice. Buddhism is for the people who do want to. =)

    federicaperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I recall hearing once a story that the Buddha was asked to describe his teachings in a single sentence, and he said “nothing whatsoever should be clung to”. It’s interesting that he didn’t mention suffering — it’s as if the solution of not clinging is more important than the realisation of suffering.

    lobsterAlex
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited May 28

    @Kerome said:
    I recall hearing once a story that the Buddha was asked to describe his teachings in a single sentence, and he said “nothing whatsoever should be clung to”. It’s interesting that he didn’t mention suffering — it’s as if the solution of not clinging is more important than the realisation of suffering.

    Not really...Happiness is Dukkha...Sadness is Dukkha ...If you cling, you end up suffering due to the impermanent nature of all things...which includes moments of happiness...

    Hence why he said "sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (Nothing whatsoever should be clung to)

    Ah the subtleties of Dukkha...

    Dukkha ..it can be very subtle (like an annoying itch that you can quite reach) or it can be in your face serious ( loss of job, illness, death etc etc )....

    Some people might say, " I appreciate suffering, we all need to suffer every now and again to balance things out" but when they find themselves up to their necks in it, it's another story...all they want to do is to be free of it.....

    However in saying this, there are some people who seem to have a natural happy disposition, where things don't seem to get them down, (well not for long) they seem to bounce right back up again....Perhaps it's something to do with karma....

    "It's easy to wear smile and be pleasant, when one's life flows along like some sweet song....
    But a person worth while is the one who can still wear a smile, when things in their life go all wrong"

    ~Goenka~

    personlobsterAlex
  • 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

    @Kerome said:
    I recall hearing once a story that the Buddha was asked to describe his teachings in a single sentence, and he said “nothing whatsoever should be clung to”. It’s interesting that he didn’t mention suffering — it’s as if the solution of not clinging is more important than the realisation of suffering.

    The first Noble Truth states that in Life, there is Suffering.
    The second Noble Truth states that the REASONS behind SUFFERING are exactly that: Clinging.
    So clinging alludes to, and includes - Suffering.
    It follows.

    If you cling? You'll 'suffer'.

    Let Go, Let Be.

    Result? Mindful, skilful Serenity. And an absence of clung-to suffering.
    Sorted.

    It's ok to feel it.
    It's NOT ok to hang onto it.

    Kundoperson
  • techietechie Veteran India Veteran
    edited May 29

    @Kerome said:
    I was wondering, is it right for buddhism to focus so much on suffering? Yes, we all encounter illness, old age and death, but before then we have a good seventy years of health and well functioning bodies. It seems premature to spend so much time in that period on difficulties which present themselves later, when we could be just celebrating life.

    It seems like dispassion and cessation, nirvana’s blowing out of the candle flame, is a very drastic solution to something that many may not consider to be a problem. If you are a bit careful about how you deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible.

    So for the first seventy years, we're not gonna experience loneliness, depression, anxiety attacks, accidents, tragedies, etc.? O.o

    personShoshin
  • 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 think perhaps @Kerome might be starting to appreciate that the whole idea/definition of 'Suffering' is much, much greater than he originally expounded...

    Kundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I still find it an oddity, to go looking for the facets of suffering in human existence, when most people experience all the conditions for a happy existence.

    The brain is a bit of a worrying machine, that is true, and we can end up torturing ourselves by getting very caught up in that. But you can teach it and train it.

    I’m not saying that looking at suffering and learning to cope with it doesn’t have beneficial effects, but my experience is that that too eventually comes to an end. When you’ve examined your own suffering, you’ve learned to see and deal with attachments, then there is an end to that path and you need to focus on your happiness for a while.

    @techie said:
    So for the first seventy years, we're not gonna experience loneliness, depression, anxiety attacks, accidents, tragedies, etc.? O.o

    Many of those things are the result of accidents or ill health. Most people will come across them and learn to cope with them successfully. It often is more about guarding the sources of your happiness, than about recognising your unhappiness.

    I think you have to develop them in tandem, how to cope with suffering and how to generate happiness.

    Alex
  • 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
    edited May 29

    @Kerome said:
    I still find it an oddity, to go looking for the facets of suffering in human existence, when most people experience all the conditions for a happy existence.

    You still forget: An awful lot of people are not Buddhist, or know nothing of it. You're looking at people's own perspectives, from your own. You need to change from observing SUBjectively, to OBJectively...

    The brain is a bit of a worrying machine, that is true, and we can end up torturing ourselves by getting very caught up in that. But you can teach it and train it.

    Yes, you can, but if even we, on here, are apt to complain and gripe about certain things, what hope for those who don't?

    I’m not saying that looking at suffering and learning to cope with it doesn’t have beneficial effects, but my experience is that that too eventually comes to an end.

    No. it doesn't. Because the moment one thing ends, another begins... everything is perpetually and continually ebbing and flowing...

    When you’ve examined your own suffering, you’ve learned to see and deal with attachments, then there is an end to that path and you need to focus on your happiness for a while.

    Simple! Sorted! NEXT!!

    Many of those things are the result of accidents or ill health.

    And what brought about the accidents or ill-health? Sometimes those things are not chosen, nor predicted. The change from well-being to illness, is a severely traumatic one, and many many people do NOT recover, or stabilise, either in body or mind.

    Most people will come across them and learn to cope with them successfully.

    1 in 4 people have a mental problem, so I think your comment is somewhat dismissive and makes light of issues that can have a profound effect, both on the person concerned, and their family and friends. What about alcoholism and drug use, for example? Do you truly believe people 'cope with them successfully'? Could I ask, really, how much thought are you putting into your comments before you make them?

    ...and It often is more about guarding the sources of your happiness, than about recognising your unhappiness.

    No. people seek a shelter or distraction in order to make themselves happy, but they merely run away from what truly ails them and create more unhappiness...

    @Kerome, I think you need to go study, research and investigate what the term Dukkha' actually means.

    People are never satisfied. If they buy a car, eventually, they want a bigger, better, faster, up-to-date one. It's the same with houses, jobs, clothes, faces, and partners.

    People attain a level of satisfaction: But it doesn't last. It fluctuates, it undulates - it goes up and down, is brilliant, is fine, is ok, needs work, is disastrous, is better, is brilliant, is fine, is ok, needs work, is disastrous, is better... and so on...

    The word 'Dukkha' comes from the same source of adjectives as those describing a warped axle.
    Depending on the terrain, the journey can be uncomfortable and positively painful, at other times, gently meandering, with a rhythmic lilt.

    Dukkha describes both the pleasant and the unpleasant; the new, the old, the desirable and undesirable, the attractive and the repellent, the pleasant and unpleasant, the meaningful and meaningless, the beautiful and the ugly, the well, the sick, the young, the elderly, the up and the down... Dukkha is both sides of the same coin. Whatever is, has an opposite. And they're both subject to change.

    This is what people resist. Change.
    This resistance is the crux of the matter.

    The resistance to change - Is clinging. Clinging, is the crux of the matter.

    Jeffrey
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I still find it an oddity, to go looking for the facets of suffering in human existence, when most people experience all the conditions for a happy existence.

    Depends on how you define "happy". From a Buddhist perspective, an existence that is entirely based on seeking pleasure and avoiding displeasure, which is how most people live, is not a happy existence.

    federicalobsterperson
  • 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
    edited May 29

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    I still find it an oddity, to go looking for the facets of suffering in human existence, when most people experience all the conditions for a happy existence.

    Depends on how you define "happy". From a Buddhist perspective, an existence that is entirely based on seeking pleasure and avoiding displeasure, which is how most people live, is not a happy existence.

    QFT.

    @Kerome? - study. ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Dukkha
    https://www.lionsroar.com/what-is-dukkha/

    You can wrap duckkha in crispy pancake and ... wait ...
    ... I think I gone daffy again ... :3

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    I still find it an oddity, to go looking for the facets of suffering in human existence, when most people experience all the conditions for a happy existence.

    Depends on how you define "happy". From a Buddhist perspective, an existence that is entirely based on seeking pleasure and avoiding displeasure, which is how most people live, is not a happy existence.

    Do you think that that is what they do? Most people I meet do not seem to live a hedonistic existence, or avoid doing necessary things even if they are not pleasant. I think the reality is more complex than that.

    For example, I just moved house and spent quite a few hours cleaning the old flat. It’s cleaner now than at any time since I moved there 5 years ago. Strictly speaking I didn’t have to do that, it was tiring and time consuming. But it was satisfying to do it, kind of saying goodbye to the old place.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Sorry lobster, usually your links are excellent but this time I read the article and it didn’t tell me anything new. The thing is, looking at dukkha as “a vague feeling of anxiety and dissatisfaction”, that is not something I encounter in my life very often. Passing feelings of frustration and unhappiness come and go, based on what I happen to be thinking about, but those are just thoughts. Most of the time, while walking into town or while eating lunch or while working, I feel a kind of background happiness which is nothing to do with the mind or thoughts.

    Most of the feelings the author lists in that article are things which I would say have a justified place in our human existence... even anguish, though not a pleasant sensation, signals something to us about our deeper selves. It rarely comes up, but when it does it has a reason. To live without dukkha, one might say, means missing out on moments of opportunity, places where our feelings are trying to tell us things.

    lobsterAlex
  • 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

    You're talking about 'you' @Kerome, but you cannot include everyone's experiences as yours or presume they're going through the same things as you are. Your observations may be accurate for the way you see things, but they're very... insular.

    You have a different slant on matters because of your involvement in Buddhism, but you cannot bracket your experience and how you deal with matters, in the same way for everyone else.
    The mental processes of others are different...

    I still think you need to do more reading and research.
    Because you're still missing the point.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Sorry lobster, usually your links are excellent but this time I read the article and it didn’t tell me anything new.

    Yep, that is kinda dukkha o:)

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 29

    @Kerome said:
    Do you think that that is what they do? Most people I meet do not seem to live a hedonistic existence, or avoid doing necessary things even if they are not pleasant. I think the reality is more complex than that.

    Yes, you don't really need to be "hedonistic" to be wanting pleasant things and to avoid unpleasant things. Just the desire for good tasting food qualifies. Simply wanting more money qualifies.

  • techietechie Veteran India Veteran
    edited May 29

    @Kerome we're going in circles. Dukkha doesn't mean we're wailing and screaming every day. Dukkha is subtle. It's there deep down inside. Whether or not we recognise it, it is always there. That's why we feel the urge to derive happiness from the outside world. If there is no dukkha within, then the urge wouldn't even arise.

    A person who has no dukkha, always blissful, will not depend on the things of the world for happiness. That would be like a millionaire desperately seeking one dollar. Yet we all rely on worldly things for satisfaction. Which means deep down inside, there is discontent. There is dukkha.

    federicaShoshinpersonlobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    Do you think that that is what they do? Most people I meet do not seem to live a hedonistic existence, or avoid doing necessary things even if they are not pleasant. I think the reality is more complex than that.

    Yes, you don't really need to be "hedonistic" to be wanting pleasant things and to avoid unpleasant things. Just the desire for good tasting food qualifies. Simply wanting more money qualifies.

    Well, when at the beach I or you might enjoy an ice cream. Similarly when we notice a dog turd in our path we will avoid putting our foot on it. I’d argue that some degree of wanting pleasant things and avoiding unpleasant things is very normal behaviour.

    Alex
  • 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

    Yes, but when you don't get the pleasant things you'd like, or when you can't avoid the unpleasant thing - there's your dukkha right there...

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Dukkha iz anti-plan?

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 29

    @Kerome said:
    Well, when at the beach I or you might enjoy an ice cream. Similarly when we notice a dog turd in our path we will avoid putting our foot on it. I’d argue that some degree of wanting pleasant things and avoiding unpleasant things is very normal behaviour.

    I would also say it's very normal behavior. But at the same time, from a Buddhist perspective, a normal person isn't really a good thing because a normal person has a lot of ignorance and therefore has a lot of suffering.

    @federica said:
    Yes, but when you don't get the pleasant things you'd like, or when you can't avoid the unpleasant thing - there's your dukkha right there...

    +1 =)

    Not only that, but when you do get that pleasant thing, and it's satisfying, that satisfaction does not last. Then, because that thing is no longer satisfying anymore, you now need to go out and find some other thing to be satisfied. Then it is for a little while, then not anymore. Then you need to go find another thing, and then another thing, and another thing, and another thing, etc, etc, etc. Like a merry go round that keeps going around and around and around.

    From a Buddhist perspective, real happiness means getting off of the merry go round. =)

    personlobster
  • 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
    edited May 29

    @Kerome, have a look at your comment here..... That's dukkha, ok?

    And your response to my comment too...

    That's clinging to an ideal. The security, the comfort, it's all dukkha....

    I think it would be a lot stronger if I was giving it all up permanently.

    One day, you'll have to. And there are absolutely no guarantees whatsoever of when that day will be, exactly.

  • 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
    edited May 29

    @Kerome said:
    I was wondering, is it right for buddhism to focus so much on suffering?

    Regarding the wording of your initial post, this was The Buddha's whole point of teaching about the 4 Noble Truths. Note: 4. Not one, and then oh, a couple of others I could mention.
    4, All together.
    Consecutive.
    Linked.

    They naturally fit in together because you can't take them in isolation. They're mutually supportive.

    So when the first Noble Truth states that In LIFE, there IS SUFFERING, it's not intended to mean, imply or even remotely hint that ALL Life IS Suffering ( pointed that out a few posts ago...)

    However, the Buddha did then take pains to next pinpoint the SOURCE of Suffering. So, no, it's not right to focus on suffering.
    It's better to focus on the cause.

    Yes, we all encounter illness, old age and death, but before then we have a good seventy years of health and well functioning bodies. It seems premature to spend so much time in that period on difficulties which present themselves later, when we could be just celebrating life.

    Yup.
    And I think, in all probability, the Buddha may well have thought the same thing...

    Here, take a look.... This is also a pertinent and educational read...

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    That would be like a millionaire desperately seeking one dollar.

    Yes.
    Inherent in our Buddha Nature is one dollar makes us millionaires. In other words we are not seeking but accepting our riches.

    The sangha are richer and enriching more than the impoverished billionaire club that bashes and distorts reality ...

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    It makes sense to me. We don't really have a problem with happiness, delight, pleasure; we have an issue with unhappiness, suffering, pain. So we focus on suffering. And when we do so, we learn that happiness and unhappiness, joy and suffering, pleasure and pain, are connected. When things are good, we tend to ignore that connection, and the inconstancy that underlies each. But with attention and an eye towards stress and suffering, we can see how attachment to joy and pleasure causes suffering when those things cease or we're parted from the things that give rise to those feelings. The same with our aversion to change and to feelings of unhappiness and experiences or unsatisfactoriness.

    I think you're right to say that, if we're careful about how we deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible. But I also think we have to focus on suffering, on how it arises and ceases, if we want to develop a deeper understanding of it and how to potentially transcend it. We're not forced to, but it's an option.

    lobsterKeromeperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    4 Happy Truths (based on Noble Truths)

    1. Existence is your only chance
    2. Make the Best of it
    3. This is as good as it gets
    4. Be kind, wise etc (see Noble Truths for details)
    Kerome
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran Veteran
    edited May 30

    @Kerome said:
    I was wondering, is it right for buddhism to focus so much on suffering? Yes, we all encounter illness, old age and death, but before then we have a good seventy years of health and well functioning bodies. It seems premature to spend so much time in that period on difficulties which present themselves later, when we could be just celebrating life.

    It seems like dispassion and cessation, nirvana’s blowing out of the candle flame, is a very drastic solution to something that many may not consider to be a problem. If you are a bit careful about how you deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible.

    The unsatisfactoriness of life is a better term. Even with health and well-functioning bodies, many are still not satisfied and want to look like movie stars.

    What about your partners, friends, finances, state of your country etc?

    The question to ask is "Are you completely satisfied and contented with what you have? If not, why?"

    "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Jason said:
    It makes sense to me. We don't really have a problem with happiness, delight, pleasure; we have an issue with unhappiness, suffering, pain. So we focus on suffering. And when we do so, we learn that happiness and unhappiness, joy and suffering, pleasure and pain, are connected. When things are good, we tend to ignore that connection, and the inconstancy that underlies each. But with attention and an eye towards stress and suffering, we can see how attachment to joy and pleasure causes suffering when those things cease or we're parted from the things that give rise to those feelings. The same with our aversion to change and to feelings of unhappiness and experiences or unsatisfactoriness.

    I think you're right to say that, if we're careful about how we deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible. But I also think we have to focus on suffering, on how it arises and ceases, if we want to develop a deeper understanding of it and how to potentially transcend it. We're not forced to, but it's an option.

    I would agree with that, suffering and unsatisfactoriness do have lessons to teach. But I think being aware of how happiness arises is equally as important as knowing how suffering arises, it is all about knowing one’s inner processes.

    In terms of knowing how to transcend suffering, that seems like a tall order because all the things in our world from events to thoughts and feelings are very impermanent. Lasting happiness there fore also seems like a difficult question.

  • 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
    edited May 30

    @Kerome, Transcending suffering involves learning how to detach skilfully, and not cling or grasp to the Eight Worldly Winds: Gain and loss; praise and blame; fame and disrepute; happiness and unhappiness.

    It's not a tall order at all. I did point out the 4 Noble Truths are connected, and the antidote to clinging/Grasping is given.
    Lasting happiness means accepting and truly living the fact that indeed, everything is impermanent.
    When you die, you will have to detach from absolutely everything you know, have known, have loved... Why wait until then?

    As I used to say to my students, If you have a problem, do you think it will matter in a year's time? If it won't, why let it matter, now?

    I'm sorry, am I talking to myself here? You seem to have judiciously avoided responding to any comment I have hitherto made...

  • AlexAlex Explorer Explorer
    edited May 30

    Life is indeed impermanent, but I feel it’s much easier to accept and potentially detach from a shift from unhappiness to happiness, than from happiness to unhappiness, I.e. when life is going smoothly and then a significantly negative life event such as serious illness diagnosis / loss of job or relationship comes along, is it so easy to accept that change by arguing that it’s impermanent ? For me, Tough to detach from those types of occurrences, no matter how we’d technically use our minds to 🙏

  • AlexAlex Explorer Explorer
    edited May 30

    In saying that, I also believe that acceptance eventually comes, whether that’s happiness is another matter....maybe that acceptance of impermanence and an understanding that we don’t know what positive event may be following on behind, is helpful.

  • 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

    @Alex said:
    Life is indeed impermanent, but I feel it’s much easier to accept and potentially detach from a shift from unhappiness to happiness, than from happiness to unhappiness, I.e. when life is going smoothly and then a significantly negative life event such as serious illness diagnosis / loss of job or relationship comes along, is it so easy to accept that change by arguing that it’s impermanent ?

    I do agree, it's a toughie.
    I am a Dog behaviourist, and have studied - in dogs - the responses to unpleasant occurrences, which entail the Freeze, Flight or Fight impulses.

    It's the same thing with humans. The 'happier' we are, the more relaxed, at ease, contented laid back and serene we are.

    Dogs do not go towards positive objectives. Rather, they move away from Negative potentials.

    Again, so do we. It's not that we actively seek happiness, and determine that we must look in that direction, daily.
    But rather, we are cautious, careful, attentive, protective and resistant to negative and pessimistic outcomes, and as, when and if they happen, we Freeze, Flee, or fight them.

    It's a survival instinct which we, as human beings have responded to with logic and a higher intellect than other animals further down the chain, have.

    Detachment, and avoiding Clinging/Grasping, is a lesson that the Buddha has given us, in order to make it possible for us to transcend the uncomfortable instinctive feelings we have, of resistance and discomfort.

    Alexlobsterperson
  • paulysopaulyso Veteran usa Veteran

    fruitful discussion.

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran Veteran
    edited May 31

    It seems like dispassion and cessation, nirvana’s blowing out of the candle flame, is a very drastic solution to something that many may not consider to be a problem.

    Dukkha can be hard to see until the veil is lifted. We have a skewed perception of what 'happiness' is.

    "Magandiya, suppose that there was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. His friends, companions, & relatives would take him to a doctor. The doctor would concoct medicine for him, and thanks to the medicine he would be cured of his leprosy: well & happy, free, master of himself, going wherever he liked. Then suppose two strong men, having grabbed him with their arms, were to drag him to a pit of glowing embers. What do you think? Wouldn't he twist his body this way & that?"

    "Yes, master Gotama. Why is that? The fire is painful to the touch, very hot & scorching."

    "Now what do you think, Magandiya? Is the fire painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, only now, or was it also that way before?"

    "Both now & before is it painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, master Gotama. It's just that when the man was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, his faculties were impaired, which was why, even though the fire was actually painful to the touch, he had the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'"

    "Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — indulge in sensual pleasures. The more they indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strings of sensuality.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.075x.than.html

    lobsterpersonJeffrey
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @pegembara reminds me of Nagarjuna

    There is pleasure when a sore is scratched,
    But to be without sores is more pleasurable still;
    There are pleasures in worldly desires,
    But to be without desires is more pleasurable still.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Kerome said:

    @Jason said:
    It makes sense to me. We don't really have a problem with happiness, delight, pleasure; we have an issue with unhappiness, suffering, pain. So we focus on suffering. And when we do so, we learn that happiness and unhappiness, joy and suffering, pleasure and pain, are connected. When things are good, we tend to ignore that connection, and the inconstancy that underlies each. But with attention and an eye towards stress and suffering, we can see how attachment to joy and pleasure causes suffering when those things cease or we're parted from the things that give rise to those feelings. The same with our aversion to change and to feelings of unhappiness and experiences or unsatisfactoriness.

    I think you're right to say that, if we're careful about how we deal with attachment and craving, happiness seems eminently possible. But I also think we have to focus on suffering, on how it arises and ceases, if we want to develop a deeper understanding of it and how to potentially transcend it. We're not forced to, but it's an option.

    I would agree with that, suffering and unsatisfactoriness do have lessons to teach. But I think being aware of how happiness arises is equally as important as knowing how suffering arises, it is all about knowing one’s inner processes.

    Sure, but as the Buddha says, we often easily become intoxicated by sensual pleasures and happiness, seeking to enjoy and prolong these experiences rather than investigate. That doesn't mean we can't also observe them and see how they arise and how suffering arises from attachment to them when they cease. But can we learn as much? And isn't the point of observing happiness in this context to ultimately learn about how suffering arises in order to not suffer as much? To be free from this inner process, as you call it? Something to consider, anyway.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited May 31

    My suffering does not set me apart: it makes me belong. I now know that my being with whatever arises is a purification, a lens polished—often with tears from the past—with which I must stand firm against the waves of segregating myself from the world.

    —Sarah Conover, “Lost At Sea”

    I'm not sure I understand how the purification part but I like it said that our suffering does not set us apart.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It would seem that all the responses are (in their own way) valid....that is they are proving the point that Dukkha permeates all aspects of our daily life...it's such an habitual thing, that we are (more often than not) unaware that's what is happening...as it (for the most part) operates under the radar (stealth) .....
    The will wheel is not turning as smoothly as one would like...producing a somewhat bumpy ride ...so to speak....

    Perhaps I have a somewhat limited understanding of unsatisfactoriness...anyhow it works for me... ...I'm satisfied with that :)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited June 1

    It can also be having confidence in the right things rather than confidence in the wrong things. Refuge.

    And then it is different for people who believe in future lives than this one. Because then what I spend a fairly enjoyable life and die in my sleep. But I don't use this life to learn about the teachings to obtain liberation from the wheel of samsara. Or what if I am harming people and creating karma for future lives? This is a hard one for me that I have noted I need to learn more about. Because there need be a balance between daily life stuff and dharma. Perhaps finding dharma in daily tasks? I suppose it's a balance and a touch. Like Sano's lute string.

    person
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    ... Like Sano's lute string.

    >

    ... somewhat bumpy ride

    There I was having a luvvly time - bump. There I was perfectly tuned - clang.
    Life the Universe has a habit of flawing and flooring us AND equally we can habitually, like Captain Marvel (or the Buddha - I forget which) get ourselves back into the shine. :)

    Enabling, empowering, practicing, creates a harmonic resonance with the Unmanifest or Buddha Nurture [sic]. B)
    Here are some top Tantric Tips and tricks to keep us on the straight and narrowing <3
    https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/prayers-rituals/vows/common-root-tantric-vows

    Short version:
    I vow to be good and not naughty o:)

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I was listening to some people talk about contemplation of death and they were saying that there were basically two outcomes from doing so. One, I think was referred to as reflecting on death, where it helps one let go of frivolous things and appreciate life more. The other, something like fretting or brooding, led to anxiety and depression.

    So maybe like an awareness of death, an awareness of suffering works in the same way? There is a healthy form and an unhealthy one? Thinking on what could be the ingredient that distinguishes the two might be the ability to let go of attachments or identities?

    Additionally I do think there is merit in understanding not only the causes of suffering but also the causes of happiness and a need for balance between the two. Too much focus on suffering and you can lose sight of what your goal is and too much focus on happiness and you can fail to address your shadow side where they continue to fester and bubble up in unmanageable ways.

    AlexKeromeShoshin
  • 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
    edited June 1

    I think it was Scott-Peck in his book, "The Road Less Travelled" that pointed out the importance of being able to wisely distinguish what brings Happiness and what brings Pleasure. It's all too easy to confuse the two...

    The former is longer-lasting and much deeper... Work skilfully on that one.
    The latter is far more fleeting, transitory and ephemeral, and needs appreciating in the moment, but then letting go of...

    Keromeperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s funny, my life is moving towards more regular patterns but I still seem to be wrapped up in contemplating dukkha...

    @person said:
    I was listening to some people talk about contemplation of death and they were saying that there were basically two outcomes from doing so. One, I think was referred to as reflecting on death, where it helps one let go of frivolous things and appreciate life more. The other, something like fretting or brooding, led to anxiety and depression.

    I think this has to do with how you approach thinking of death. If you consider it as a next stage on the journey, one where you leave everything behind and you have made your peace with that, then you can contemplate it with a measure of equanimity and peace. If you are still caught up in possessing things and the idea of loss, then it may lead to fretting or brooding.

    So maybe like an awareness of death, an awareness of suffering works in the same way? There is a healthy form and an unhealthy one? Thinking on what could be the ingredient that distinguishes the two might be the ability to let go of attachments or identities?

    Perhaps so. I’m not sure whether letting go is the right response to suffering. Certainly letting go of the things you cling to can be beneficial, but there is also something to be said for working through things, as if the right kind of work repairs the sources of suffering.

    Additionally I do think there is merit in understanding not only the causes of suffering but also the causes of happiness and a need for balance between the two.

    I certainly think the Buddha very thoroughly examined the causes of suffering but didn’t spend nearly so much time on the causes of happiness. There are a lot of small pleasures in life, but the larger sources of happiness are mostly unexamined.

Sign In or Register to comment.