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Buddhism - Four Noble Truths - Suffering

 
 
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 03:21 pm
I have been interested in Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths recently. Firstly, I'm not shopping for religions, but addressing things I don't completely understand.
Now before I get into what I am unsure about an so on, I'd like to state that the purpose of this thread is not to flame Buddhism or its believers.

Below are the Four Noble Truths.
Reference:Four Noble Truths - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:


  1. 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."[9][10]
  2. 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."[9][10]
  3. Suffering's Cessation (Nirodha):
    "This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."[9][10]
  4. The Way (Mārga) Leading to the Cessation of Suffering:
    "This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."[11][12]




Recently, someone (who was not a Buddhist) tried to persuade me that the main cause of Suffering was "Desire" and his reference of choice was the Four Noble Truths. I thought over it and honestly disagreed. He is quite sure of it and even with a reasonable arguement refuses to change his mind on the matter, but that is not my reason for posting this thread.

I'd like to hear from the community on their beliefs on the matter of the Four Noble Truths. Do you agree, disagree? Are these Truths relevant in the Modern world? I'm rather new to these forums and have been worried about posting on any subject as I could easily be considered a "newb" when it comes to Philosophy and so on. So, if I am wrong by asking these questions please do not crucify me Wink
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proV
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 05:18 pm
@Kage phil,
I am just watching some Anthony de Mello's videos. (you can find them here ) He talks just about that; suffering as a effect of desires. You might find it interesting. Not to theoretical but he gives good practical examples and parables. Although he was a jesuit, he obviously leaned much on eastern religions.

One of his quotes:

"Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering."
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 05:28 pm
@Kage phil,
Kage;55286 wrote:
I have been interested in Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths recently. Firstly, I'm not shopping for religions, but addressing things I don't completely understand.
Now before I get into what I am unsure about an so on, I'd like to state that the purpose of this thread is not to flame Buddhism or its believers.

Below are the Four Noble Truths.
Reference:Four Noble Truths - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Recently, someone (who was not a Buddhist) tried to persuade me that the main cause of Suffering was "Desire" and his reference of choice was the Four Noble Truths. I thought over it and honestly disagreed. He is quite sure of it and even with a reasonable arguement refuses to change his mind on the matter, but that is not my reason for posting this thread.

I'd like to hear from the community on their beliefs on the matter of the Four Noble Truths. Do you agree, disagree? Are these Truths relevant in the Modern world? I'm rather new to these forums and have been worried about posting on any subject as I could easily be considered a "newb" when it comes to Philosophy and so on. So, if I am wrong by asking these questions please do not crucify me Wink


[SIZE="3"]Nothing in Buddhism can be understood out of the context of the Buddha's enlightenment and his efforts to help others attain it. But to see the significance of enlightenment as the goal, one also has to know something about the experience of enlightenment. If enlightenment isn't understood as the goal, and if there is no familiarity the the experience the Buddha was directing students toward, then the various Buddhist principles and practices are usually "translated" into what people are familiar with.

It doesn't sound like your friend was discussing the Four Noble Truths in context of a devoted practice. They make no sense as general principles, only when someone is shooting for enlightenment. I'll explain a little more.

First you have to understand that the Buddha and his monks were meditators before all else. Why, you might ask, is that not the way Buddhism is presented today? Because what the Buddha taught has become "religion," which is exactly the sort of translation I was talking about in the first paragraph. People have translated the Buddha's teaching into a "way of life," morals, etc. just like all religions translate the words of masters like Jesus or Nanak or . . . .

But if you were a disciple of the Buddha, the way of life or principles are only set up to aid what you are trying to achieve in meditation, which is merging, oneness, union, . . . what the Buddha called samadhi. Everything the Buddha taught was to assist in that practice, and I quite literally mean everything. Now, those who don't understand that have no idea what the goal is, and so you constantly get these rather shallow interpretations of the Buddha's ideas.

So let's test my hypothesis using the Four Noble Truths (i.e., that all the Buddha's teachings are to help one achieve enlightenment, and to practice samadhi meditation).

Happiness, the Buddha claims, that is dependent on external circumstances is a happiness you can't permanently keep. Why? Because external circumstances constantly change, and so the degree your happiness is dependent on circumstances being a certain way, to that extent your happiness is at risk. When things are good you are happy, when things are bad . . . well.

But, the Buddha taught, you can find happiness inside yourself and thus become liberated from attachment to external circumstances being a certain way before you can be happy. And you achieve this inner independence through samadhi meditation.

What takes you away from liberation from externals? Desire, desire for things outside yourself. HOWEVER (and this is a big "however" and related to the mistake your friend made in his interpretation), it isn't just desiring things that causes suffering, it is making your happiness dependent on what you desire. THAT is the desire and suffering the Buddha was talking about, not ordinary desire.

If you desire a car but aren't made unhappy if you don't get it, or if you lose it, then that desire is fine. Desiring per se isn't the problem, it is linking your happiness to getting what you desire.

See, the Buddha was just trying to give a solid reason for turning inward and practicing merging with a blissful place we all have inside of us. He was trying to say "don't get fooled by the wonderful stuff 'out there' . . . no matter how great it won't bring lasting happiness."[/SIZE]
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 07:39 am
@LWSleeth,
Thanks for that, it explained it very well.Don't invest your happiness in those things that are transient.Desire is ok as long you realise it wont last and if you want true happiness it comes from within.I hope that's right..Xris
Kage phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 08:02 am
@Kage phil,
That was very well said
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 10:07 am
@xris,
xris;55388 wrote:
Thanks for that, it explained it very well. Don't invest your happiness in those things that are transient .Desire is ok as long you realise it wont last and if you want true happiness it comes from within. I hope that's right. Xris
secondarily (in terms of priority) practiced letting go of the externals you were attached to for happiness. It makes sense . . . it is self-defeating to cling to everything externally while trying to turn inward.

But now many centuries later religious translation has it exactly opposite in priority. "Buddhism" is primarily about the aids to turning inward, and less about a strong, devoted daily practice of samadhi.

This always happens as far as I can tell with religion. It is nearly impossible, for instance, to figure out that Jesus was doing the same thing as the Buddha (which I won't try to prove here). But if so, why? Because religious translation has focused on sayings, morals, behavior, beliefs over almost all inward-turning considerations.

Some people, starting with many (but not all) of the original disciples, always seem to understand such teachers are about turning inward, and they actually work to keep that inner understanding alive. I call them "preservationists." Centuries later you can find them, often with a small band of fellow preservationists, practicing the inner thing. Two quotes will illustrate.

Sixteen centuries after the Buddha, six hundred years after its preservationist origin as Ch'an in China, meditation was still seen as the central practice, as is shown by Japanese Zen master Dogen's words (who had traveled to China to study Zen):

"In the study of the Way, the prime essential is sitting meditation. The attainment of the way by many people in China is due in each case to the power of sitting meditation. Even ignorant people with no talent, who do not understand a single letter, if they sit whole-heartedly in meditation, then by the accomplishment of meditative stability, they will surpass even brilliant people who have studied for a long time. Thus students . . . do not get involved with other things."

Preservers of Jesus' inner endowment started in the desert as hermits after the destruction of Israel in 70 CE (razed again in 135 CE), where they set a standard for the inner way that lasted in later monasteries until 17th century. The following example is interesting because it shows how religious translation was perplexing an inner aspirant as he questions Gregory Palamas, the then archbishop of Thessalonica in the fourteenth century, who was experienced in innerness (as you can see, they interpret what is inside as part of God):

Monk: "Some say that we do wrong to try and confine the mind within the body . . . and write against them for advising beginners to look into themselves and, through breathing, to lead their minds within, for . . . if mind is not separate from soul, but is joined with it, how can it be reintroduced within? I beg you my father, teach me how and why we take special care to try and lead the mind within and do not think it wrong to confine it in the body."

Gregory: "For those who keep attention in themselves in silence it is not unprofitable to try to hold their mind within the body. Brother! Do you not hear the Apostle [Paul] saying that 'your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you', and again, that 'ye are the temple of God.' Who then, possessing a mind, will deem it unseemly to introduce his mind into that which has been granted the honour of being the dwelling of God?"


Anyway, my point is that avoiding attachment is only part of the story; the much greater part of the story is finding the place inside which blisses out consciousness, and developing a strong practice of joining with it. [/SIZE]
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 10:29 am
@LWSleeth,
I can understand this attempt at attainment up to a certain point BUT if this existence is for experiencing this life i must not confuse it with what i see as a secondary purpose of removing myself from it.I am a human with all its desires and its consequences.I am happy with the knowledge that it is transient, it took a long time to come to terms with that awful thought but we cant deny it so why be frightened of it.Enjoy each treasured moment but be aware it is only fleeting.If I attempt at looking too deeply inwards i find it self serving and does my companions in life a dis service.Whatever path we choose to find truth it must be honest and suit our purpose.Thanks Xris
John W Kelly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 10:35 am
@Kage phil,
Sounds alot like Arthur Schopenhauer!
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 10:53 am
@xris,
xris;55397 wrote:
If I attempt at looking too deeply inwards i find it self serving and does my companions in life a dis service.Whatever path we choose to find truth it must be honest and suit our purpose.Thanks Xris


[SIZE="3"]Well, that is the common worry, that turning inward is somehow negatively self serving. Before I expand, rest assured I am not trying to talk you into anything (especially Buddhism, since I am not Buddhist), I am just trying to clarify.

There is a difference between doing what is best for the self, and being selfish (which is what I assume you meant by "self-serving"). In fact, if you look around you can see a lot of people who are trying to help others, but who should first help themselves. Preachers, for example, who tell everybody to be certain ways they can't live by themselves.

Additionally, aren't there things that we do for ourselves that also benefits others? If you are always angry or worried, and you take time to find inner peace, don't you think everyone you interact with will benefit?

It's just the self-serving actions that harm others which should be labelled selfish; those things we do that make us more enlightened, loving, and wise benefit all of humanity (and us). And that is exactly the type of personal development the Buddha recommended. He was teaching that there is a way, a very specific way, of turning inward that can make you happy.

From a moral and social responsibility point of view, when people are inwardly happy, they are most likely to want to do good things; and when people are miserable they are more likely to take it out on others.[/SIZE]
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 12:07 pm
@LWSleeth,
I understand that is the concept but the reality is on so many occassions not the case, the Buddha abandoned his family.Retiring from life to attain is in my opinion not the purpose of life.Its like the man who never sinned because he avoided the temptations of life by seclusion, is he a saint or just a blank piece of paper with no story? Is there only one way to enlightenment ? We all know that life is transient and joy is always flavoured with sorrow but we have to believe in more than just flesh and blood to even attempt a higher attainment.It is no good attending church when you are an atheist.Do i have to believe in a soul or a higher purpose before i believe in attempting nirvana.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 04:28 pm
@xris,
xris;55413 wrote:
I understand that is the concept but the reality is on so many occassions not the case, the Buddha abandoned his family.


[SIZE="3"]That isn't automatically bad, or good. It depends on why he left, what his wife thought of it. At the time marriages were arranged (and still are in places), which likely explains why he was married at 16. And where he grew up, it was considered a noble thing to do to seek enlightenment. The tradition holds that he left his wife and son well off, so it wasn't like he allowed them to starve. Later his wife joined him in the monastic life (as did his son), the first nun in fact, for which the Buddha established a special order for women.[/SIZE]


xris;55413 wrote:
Retiring from life to attain is in my opinion not the purpose of life.Its like the man who never sinned because he avoided the temptations of life by seclusion, is he a saint or just a blank piece of paper with no story?


[SIZE="3"]Ahhh, well if you only study the monastic tradition topically, you won't understand why men and women have submitted to it. And who knows what the purpose of life is, do you?

Remember, I've not been talking about anything but how the Four Noble Truths apply to the pursuit of enlightenment, and in general the inner view of the Buddha's or Jesus' teaching versus the more "outer" view most people take.

Not all people who enter monastic life work hard at realization, just like all people who, say, wear a police uniform are devoted to upholding the law. The behaviors and appearance of a person doesn't decide if he is sincerely participating in his chosen path.

But for those who become monastics out of a desire to attain enlightenment, and who genuinely work at it, their reason is not to avoid "sin." The reason is to narrow the focus to practicing (similar to how spring training teams isolate themselves). Besides, a great many people (especially these days) practice as "householders," which means they work, support families, vote, etc. but also are strongly committed to daily practice.

However, I find it strange that in a world full of warmongers, politicians, rich and ambitious people doing anything to get ahead, criminals ripping off fellow human beings, and ordinary people living and dying with out a clue what life was all about . . . somebody always singles out the very relative few who decide to withdraw from the insanity to work at a sincere practice. Why not single out the many millions of selfish, destructive people active IN the world? If you ask me, instead of leading people, as some of the most evil people have, they'd be better off in a monastery where they can't hurt so many.
[/SIZE]

xris;55413 wrote:
Is there only one way to enlightenment ? We all know that life is transient and joy is always flavoured with sorrow but we have to believe in more than just flesh and blood to even attempt a higher attainment.It is no good attending church when you are an atheist.


[SIZE="3"]Okay, but let's stay on track. Remember we are talking about the conscious experience the Buddha taught. You can call anything you want "enlightenment," from getting a Ph.D to becoming a "clear" in Scientology. But if we are specifically talking about what the Buddha had attained, then things narrow considerably.

All efforts I know of (and I've studied it extensively) revolve around turning inward and "merging" with something that is already at peace inside. Now the various disciplines people use to help them stay on track in that practice are many, from yogic and Zen-like to devotional and God-centered. But at the core is always a practice of that merging experience.[/SIZE]


xris;55413 wrote:
Do i have to believe in a soul or a higher purpose before i believe in attempting nirvana.


[SIZE="3"]Nope. In fact, in my experience it is really better to believe nothing because "beliefs" just get in the way. ( I must remind you again, that I am trying to represent what the Buddha taught, not what I think you should believe or do.)

In my opinion, belief not supported by experience always gets in the way. If you want to practice turning inward, but you have never experienced a soul or God or nirvana, then why should you believe anything about them?

It's like me teaching an alien to cook minestrone soup, but he doesn't know about heat or soup or pans or spoons or garlic, etc. Why should I tell him before he ever works with those aspects of soup making he must believe in minestrone soup when all I have to do is give him everything and instruction on how to use them? If it all that results in the soup, there is the proof and he can believe because he sees and tastes and smells with his own senses.

Likewise, someone like the Buddha doesn't require belief at all, just understanding of what he is trying to teach and an openness to learn. In fact, the Buddhas was famous for refusing to talk about if there is a God, for example, saying that "it isn't profitable to practice." In other words, experience for yourself and know for yourself, leave "belief" out of it.[/SIZE]
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 05:03 pm
@LWSleeth,
John W. Kelly wrote:
Sounds alot like Arthur Schopenhauer!


Schopenhauer's personal devotional was the Hindu text the Upanishads. The Buddha would have been intimately familiar with this book, and Buddhism, being a reform of Hinduism, drew a great deal from the text.

Kage wrote:

Recently, someone (who was not a Buddhist) tried to persuade me that the main cause of Suffering was "Desire" and his reference of choice was the Four Noble Truths. I thought over it and honestly disagreed.


We have to be careful with the language. Buddhism does not hold that the cause of suffering is desire. The term Tanha is sometimes translated as desire, but it is a technical term in Buddhism. There is a wikipedia article on the word.
doc phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 09:22 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Interesting discussion,

In terms of desire being the root of suffering, I would have to disagree. Most teachings state attachment as one of the limiting factors for achieving a non-suffering state, not desire as such (I think LWSleeth was saying this).

But I think there is a deeper argument here. I think desire in terms of a drive is important. The issue though, is that Buddha never expressed what such desire should be. When asked about the nature of life, death and all in-between, the Buddha states (according to stories, of course):

When one is shot with an arrow, does one wait to find out the name of the archer before treating the wound?

The world was in a considerable degree of darkness, man being lost to his urge based desires. It was more important to try and raise man above such fixed attachments to the satisfaction of urge. Now, though, we have the resources and shared expressive realm whereby we can explore the nature of the universe. We can explore what such drive is, and put effort into its manifestation. At least that is my hope.

LWSleeth wrote:

From a moral and social responsibility point of view, when people are inwardly happy, they are most likely to want to do good things; and when people are miserable they are more likely to take it out on others.


I agree. I think it is essential that when one undertakes self-reflection one does so with the intent of contributing to humankind. Staring with self, the relief of suffering of self, or the attainment of enlightenment for self, is, in my opinion, a more convuluted path to awareness of self, the whole, and one's place in it.

xris wrote:
It is no good attending church when you are an atheist.Do i have to believe in a soul or a higher purpose before i believe in attempting nirvana.


Xris, I agree with the second sentence (i.e. No) but not the first. Much can be gained by exposure to religion. Attending church even though not a christian, has almost always brought more insight and stimulation for original and useful thought. And certainly, I do not consider it necessary that a belief in any higher being is essential to attain nirvana. One could achieve using darwinism, string theory or law of conservation. It is, as always, the level of application and the intent. As Kage stated at the start, the eightfold path (not the only way, I am sure) begins with "right view", and these days it is much easier to see the right view.

Peace
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 12:26 pm
@doc phil,
I think if everyone had the opportunity or the pleasure of contemplation they would have more reason to be content.I am not rich nor does my wife think its appropriate i go on a pilgrimage leaving her alone.Modern society has its benefits but little time or space to look that too intently at itself. I for one could not associate myself with certain Buddhists teachings even if i wanted to, its too life changing.We must find our own nirvana.. our own road to understanding.I envy their simplicity and if the world was to adopt its principles it would be paradise on earth but the road has been made and we must tred its weary route.
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 01:41 pm
@Kage phil,
Quote:
Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters

Zen masters say "Don't seek the truth - just drop your opinions
:)Desire is the cause of suffering? This is like Daoists say: "To lose in the Beginning and seek in the Middle". Desire also has its cause. Buddha stated that the cause of all evil/suffering is ignorance. When one does not know the nature of things (and his nature as well) he shall inevitably do stupidities -- this is quite natural.
But this cannot be overcome by any practice whatsoever. What is practice but an effort to do violence against oneself? Truth need neither violance nor struggle, it actually comes and says: "I am truth" and all falsehood disappears. This is not poetry: no one will hurt himself and since truth is just knowledge of himself, its action is immediate.
An awekened one or sage just does not have desires. Please don't surprised by this. The body keeps on existing but its contents is absolutely different from that of an ordinary man. Desire is too strong word to describe this fact, in Buddhism they apply term "samskaras", i.e. some habits that last even after realisation of truth. I think "preferences" as Stoics called this is the same thing.
An awakened person is not confused by them: he just observes...
0 Replies
 
Kage phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 01:47 pm
@Kage phil,
I'd like to thank everyone so far for their meaningful input. Not only have my own beliefs been confirmed, but the evolution of this topic has brought up many meaningful items in which I am enjoying. Keep it up!
0 Replies
 
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:19 pm
@LWSleeth,
Thanks for this interesting and informative topic!

The Four Noble Truths are an integral and important part of studying Buddhism. They are the Buddha's most basic and eternal, insofar as anything can be said to be eternal, teachings. Yet they are not the whole story.

Buddhism, as I see it, is basically a religion composed entirely of two major threads: dislike of dogma and desire to enlighten everyone; this egalitarian impulse (common to all religions) has given true Buddhism, more a philosophy, a great many religious trappings; however, the antidogmatic impulse means that everything which is in Buddhism can come under attack. Even the Four Noble Truths...the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra explicitly says "there is no suffering" and "no cessation of suffering"--this would seem to be a fundamental attack on the Four Noble Truths. One must remember that all writ in Buddhism ought to be treated more like guidelines to assist one's internal development, via meditation.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Apr, 2009 05:10 am
@Kage phil,
Quote:
The Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra explicitly says "there is no suffering" and "no cessation of suffering"--this would seem to be a fundamental attack on the Four Noble Truths


I don't think it is an 'attack'. With the development of the Mahayana tradition and the teaching of Sunyata, the 'transcendent' nature of the teachings was made more explicit. This was made clear in a classic text called 'The Central Philosophy of Buddhism' by TRV Murti. Readers of this particular forum should appreciate this book as it goes into a lot of detail to explain the relationship of Mahayana philosophy with parallel ideas in Western philosophy (which has in some circles also been grounds for criticism of it.)

The other thing as has been stated in this post earlier, Buddhism is a practise and a vehicle. You use it to go somewhere different, i.e, 'the other shore'. So the value of sitting on this shore wondering what kind of vehicle it is, or whether it works or not, is, no disrespect to anyone, not very useful. In my own case, I have been practising Buddhist meditation for I guess over 20 years now, not always consistently, and not always diligently. However I can attest that the profound meaning of the Four Noble Truths becomes considerably more intelligible when you actually do the practise.

Also it is not true that Buddhism is not dogmatic. Buddhism has its dogmas, and dogma per se is not actually pernicious (dogma being "a system of settled or established beliefs and principles). What Buddhism is NOT, and what is pernicious in all religions, is authoritarian. Religion in the West practically invented authoritarianism. Buddhism, by contrast, has always been a way for volunteers (except for where it has become hereditary.) But basically, it was a faith for volunteers, it was never forced on anyone, in fact traditionally you had to 'ask three times' to be instructed. And it has always proceeded by peaceful dialog, example, reason, and pointing out. Everywhere is has gone, with a very few exceptions (e.g. the Japanese Imperial Army) it has been a profoundly civilizing and humane influence. And it remains so.

Peace to all.
Thunkd
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Apr, 2009 10:25 pm
@Kage phil,
Kage wrote:
Recently, someone (who was not a Buddhist) tried to persuade me that the main cause of Suffering was "Desire" and his reference of choice was the Four Noble Truths. I thought over it and honestly disagreed.


It's hard to address this issue without knowing what you believe the causes of suffering to be. Do you believe that desire is not a cause of suffering, or merely that it is not the main cause of suffering.

I would believe that it certainly is at least a cause of suffering. For example, take two men and a woman.... one man is in love and desires the woman with his whole heart, the other wouldn't mind being with the woman, but is pretty much indifferent. The woman then announces that she is a lesbian and will never be interested in any man. The man who desires her may suffer, but the man who is indifferent will not. As long as the one man continues to desire her, and cannot have her, he will suffer.... if he stops wanting her, he will stop suffering.

Now perhaps you believe that desire is a cause of suffering, but not the main cause. In order to address that point, I'd really need to know what you consider the cause of suffering to be.
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Apr, 2009 05:01 am
@Thunkd,
Thunkd wrote:
It's hard to address this issue without knowing what you believe the causes of suffering to be. Do you believe that desire is not a cause of suffering, or merely that it is not the main cause of suffering.

I would believe that it certainly is at least a cause of suffering. For example, take two men and a woman.... one man is in love and desires the woman with his whole heart, the other wouldn't mind being with the woman, but is pretty much indifferent. The woman then announces that she is a lesbian and will never be interested in any man. The man who desires her may suffer, but the man who is indifferent will not. As long as the one man continues to desire her, and cannot have her, he will suffer.... if he stops wanting her, he will stop suffering.

Now perhaps you believe that desire is a cause of suffering, but not the main cause. In order to address that point, I'd really need to know what you consider the cause of suffering to be.

Hi Thunkd,
The example you use of the two men, the one who'll suffer will get over it and no permanent damage done but if the cause is different such as greed which could lead to permanent suffering, for instance war which leads to innocents dying yes? Well then because the cause leads to others suffering and the suffering is not just personel than that is wrong, personel suffering often leads to growth,ie, strength learning,etc but when it's not just personel and leads to others coming to harm then the person should withdraw from that cause in the first place.
 

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