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View Diary: I sucked at Buddhism last night (257 comments)

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  •  Try sucking on this (0+ / 0-)

    I have read that the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to become indifferent to all suffering, your own as well as that of others.  Since to exist is to suffer, the ultimate goal is to cease existing.

    So, we just commit suicide, right?  Nothing so simple (although I suspect that would actually work pretty well).  And that is because, the theory is, we would just get reincarnated right back into this world for another miserable life. Instead, we have to annihilate the ego, and this we accomplish by transcending the pleasure principle, which means not caring about suffering one way or the other.

    Therefore, all that worrying about famine, disease, war, and death just goes to show how bound up you still are in the pleasure principle.  Only when you care as little about how much suffering there is in the world as you do about the cream in your coffee will you be able to finally escape the wheel of rebirth.

    Looks like you have a ways to go.

    •  If this is buddhism, no thanks. (6+ / 0-)

      Instead of extinguishing the ego, your description could be read as elevating (or demoting) it to the level of the Id.

      I have never met a Buddhist who was indifferent to the sufferings of others....but that might be a sign of the company I keep.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:42:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please understand enhydra lutris's post above (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aramis Wyler, David54, 84thProblem

      you're 180 degrees from center with all this.

      If you're worrying and on this earth, you need to be taking action, not 86ing life. breathe.

      The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

      by MeToo on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:43:36 AM PDT

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      •  I can understand how you can be 180 degrees (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MeToo

        from a point on the circumference of a circle, but I don't understand how you can be 180 degrees from the center of the circle. Being removed from the center would be a line straight out from the center or the radius. Then another line straight out from the center would be the other radius. If these two lines were 180 degrees it would be the diameter.

        I never got math and religion is not far behind. I enjoy it though.

        Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

        by 88kathy on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:38:52 PM PDT

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        •  I think what MeToo meant... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, MeToo

          ...was you're heading the wrong way dude!

          The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

          by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:47:38 PM PDT

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          •  We always use string theory for math/religion (0+ / 0-)

            analogies. It works better no one you are apt to run into understands either. :)

            Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

            by 88kathy on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:55:21 PM PDT

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        •  consider it a koan (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, MeToo

          like that "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" riddle.

          ;)

          Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

          by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:56:37 PM PDT

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          •  I made up my own. When you are fishing, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MeToo

            the fish line goes in the water. It seems to jump over a couple of inches and continue on down in the water. That place where it jumps over, is like religion. The air and water fish line will never ever ever match up, it will always jump over.

            Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

            by 88kathy on Thu May 02, 2013 at 03:57:32 PM PDT

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            •  What you see in the water (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              88kathy

              there is a reflection of your mind.  : )

              I did mean for my initial reply to be abstract :  you're 180 degrees from center with all this... circular logic, never resolves. Love the idea that it's a koan!

              The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

              by MeToo on Thu May 02, 2013 at 05:52:11 PM PDT

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    •  The problem... (10+ / 0-)

      ...is that I don't believe in the re-incarnation part. My favorite teacher is Stephen Bachelor and he's made a point of this being a Hindu overlay on the essential teachings of the Buddha. In Bachelor's view, the life we live is the only one we get, so we have to get it right here and now. My intuition says he's right.

      The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

      by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:44:22 AM PDT

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      •  I don't think there's much question that Bachelor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        is right about re-incarnation being an overlay of Hinduism (and, later, some other animist religions).  

        "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

        by Oliver St John Gogarty on Thu May 02, 2013 at 12:52:06 PM PDT

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      •  bachelor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        84thProblem

        has a pretty wide and growing following I think.  Certainly, it is the view I subscribe to.

        Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

        by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:57:24 PM PDT

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      •  I don't either--it seems too ego-satisfying. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crystal eyes, mzinformed

        The first thing that appealed to me about Buddhism is the absence of articles of faith--i.e., to be a Buddhist you don't HAVE to believe in anything in particular. I see reincarnation as being a way of reconciling karma to the obvious injustices of life. A young child who does no harm to anyone, lives a miserable childhood and then dies young, must be redeemed through reincarnation if the karma is to have the force of law.

        I have a less compulsive view of karma, not so absolute as some would see it, but as a law that functions in MOST if not all circumstances--which is good enough for me. I have come to believe more fervently in Buddhism because it has worked very well for me, when applied to my own life. Most recently it has proven invaluable in negotiating my path through a divorce that was not my choice, but that I embraced as a blessing in disguise.  And sure enough, my acceptance of loss and suffering turned into measurable growth and spiritual reward.

        My happiness is shared with others in my work, and I try to be a positive force in all areas of my life within my sphere, which is a limited scope. I have anger and frustration about the world as it is--but remind myself that this is the same world full of injustice that Jesus and Buddha inhabited, and that they did as much or more for the good of mankind than many political leaders with good intentions have done.

        Many (but not all) of the people of the third world that you have so much compassion for may in fact be happier than you are, because they do what happy people do everywhere--accept the world for what it is, and recognize that they can only find and create contentment within their own sphere of influence.

        Your anger and frustration with the world as it is does nothing to change it for the better. It serves neither them nor you. Neither does your disappointment in others around you.  All you can do is to accept the world and everything in it just as it is and love it despite itself; find happiness within yourself and share it liberally; and then go do all the good for others that you feel like doing. But that should be enough to keep you busy.

        •  Beautiful comment (0+ / 0-)

          And much to consider deeply.

          Regarding the final paragraph, this is not my usual reaction to the world or the people around me. I think of myself as an optimist mostly and I can totally relate to 'loving it despite itself' and I think it's my natural mode. Something set me off on this occasion, be it internal or external or both. It's definitely something worth noting and exploring.

          The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

          by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:13:18 PM PDT

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          •  Thank you for your kind response. (0+ / 0-)

            I wrote this comment especially for you, unlike most times when I'm playing for a larger audience. That it found you and resonated with you is rewarding, and makes my time and effort more than worthwhile.

            Your experience makes me glad that I live someplace where there is no convenient sangha! Best of luck to you on your journey.

        •  My problem with the connection between karma (0+ / 0-)

          and reincarnation is the other direction. I asked a practicing Buddhist whether a child that was raped as a nine year old had that happen to her because of her own actions in a previous life. His answer was, "Yes, of course. But we wouldn't blame her for that."



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:42:08 PM PDT

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          •  The teacher I studied under would say... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama

            ... the ocean of karma is so vast, and so complicated, that simplistic cause-effect explanations are pointless. You inherit from prior lives but you are not your past lives.

            •  I feel like that affirms my loosey-goosey model! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wee Mama
            •  That helps some, but it still implies that people (0+ / 0-)

              who are born into bad situations or have bad stuff happen to them in some sense are reaping what they sow.



              Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

              by Wee Mama on Fri May 03, 2013 at 10:08:19 AM PDT

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              •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

                Buddhism explicitly rejects karmic determinism. (Along with the idea of a self or soul.) It's like saying that I was molested because my genes, personality, socio-economic status, and family norms put me in the path of my abuser with a "free chicken" sign on my face. Those factors are explanatory, not accusatory, and understanding all of them are beyond my comprehension.

                Buddhism, in my understanding of it, holds me responsible for the karma I create, not the incomprehensible effects of karma I experienced. (In Stoic terms, the past is fate or the infinite chain of existence. In theological terms, it's a mystery of god's will.) If I choose to be ruled by fear, anger, or longing, I create a hell for myself and quite possibly for others. Perhaps that hell will influence (but not determine) the "me" that follows me.

                And on the other hand, if I choose to practice the discernment that fear, anger, and longing can be experienced and acknowledged as ephemeral, I might make things easier for future "me" and avoid creating problems for others.

                And after having seen loved ones go into a hell of their own creation, it's an argument I find deeply compelling.

          •  That's pretty horrifying! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama

            I guess I don't have (or WANT) that much faith.

    •  The goal is freedom not indifference (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mindful Nature, kayak58
    •  Buddhists say it's not nihilism (0+ / 0-)

      I wouldn't trust the usual non-Buddhist translations, not that I understand Buddhism myself.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:21:31 PM PDT

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    •  "Do not despair: there IS no hope" said a Buddhist (0+ / 0-)

      to me when we were having a conversation about global warming, pollution, and the direction the world seems to be going. Just thinking about that thought is depressing to me and it really bothers me because I think #1) There are plenty of things we can (and should) do to mitigate suffering at all levels and even to create glorious things, and #2) that hopes and goals and looking forward to the future are good things. She seemed to be saying that since we can't fix everything, we shouldn't even try, we should just not worry about it. Just stay balanced in the middle where there is no despair because we have no desire for improvement. Am I misunderstanding her? Or was she not explaining it well? Or is it really that negative and depressing (Oh, right, not supposed to despair- I forgot already...)

    •  That's a really bad translation (0+ / 0-)
      I have read that the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to become indifferent to all suffering, your own as well as that of others.
      No, the goal is to transcend dukkha (frequently translated as "suffering," but that's not quite accurate) by recognizing that it's empty of objective or eternal substance. At a minimum, this involves the cultivation of a life that does not directly or indirectly cause harm in others. In Mahayana Buddhism, it also involves the cultivation of compassion for the lives of all living beings.

      In Buddhist mythology, the gods in paradise experience dukkha because the experience of only pleasure is as blinding as the experience of only anger is to the demon, the experience of only fear is to the animal, or the experience of only hunger is to the hungry ghost.

      So in the philosophy of engaged Buddhism, I should help the person experiencing famine, disease, war, or death, not because doing so makes me a good person, but because that other person is me, and should be given the same opportunities to realize enlightenment.

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