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Buddhism - Four Noble Truths - Suffering

 
 
Thunkd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Apr, 2009 06:58 am
@Caroline,
Caroline wrote:
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.


First off, I would view greed as just another form of desire.

And I wouldn't necessarily see innocents dying as suffering. I think it's important to distinguish between suffering and adversity or bad events/pain. It is impossible to avoid having bad things happen and experiencing pain. Those events have causes which are outside of ourselves and there is never any guarantee that you can prevent them. How we react to those events and whether we choose to suffer is a subjective response. For example, many people suffer keenly at the idea of dying of cancer, while many people claim that being diagnosed with cancer has put their lives in perspective and has had a positive impact on their life. Having gotten cancer you can't prevent the pain and stress and possible mortality of the disease, but you can change your attitude and response to those factors.

My perspective on this issue is to look at an individual's personal suffering, as in the context of whether buddhism is a way for us to personally avoid suffering. Whether actions cause others suffering, and whether those are right or wrong is another issue.

I would disagree that suffering leads to growth, but rather adversity leads to growth. Anytime we encounter obstacles or problems, we are forced to overcome them or change in response to them, which leads to growth.
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Apr, 2009 01:09 pm
@Thunkd,
Thunkd wrote:
First off, I would view greed as just another form of desire.

And I wouldn't necessarily see innocents dying as suffering. I think it's important to distinguish between suffering and adversity or bad events/pain. It is impossible to avoid having bad things happen and experiencing pain. Those events have causes which are outside of ourselves and there is never any guarantee that you can prevent them. How we react to those events and whether we choose to suffer is a subjective response. For example, many people suffer keenly at the idea of dying of cancer, while many people claim that being diagnosed with cancer has put their lives in perspective and has had a positive impact on their life. Having gotten cancer you can't prevent the pain and stress and possible mortality of the disease, but you can change your attitude and response to those factors.

My perspective on this issue is to look at an individual's personal suffering, as in the context of whether buddhism is a way for us to personally avoid suffering. Whether actions cause others suffering, and whether those are right or wrong is another issue.

I would disagree that suffering leads to growth, but rather adversity leads to growth. Anytime we encounter obstacles or problems, we are forced to overcome them or change in response to them, which leads to growth.

To your first line-I didnt say greed was a different form of desire, i said it was a form of desire.
Innocents do suffer due to greed, for instance, an arms trafficker will sell arms to people who are obviously giong to kill and maime innocents, so they do suffer, the people who make money in selling these arms knowing full well where they are going and for what purpose do it for money=greed=desire for wealth, so i disagree with you.
I think some suffering you do learn from, for instance if someoene hurts you you become stronger you learn how devious people can be and watch out for and dont get hurt again thus making yourself less vulnerable so i disagree with you on that point, i think you learn alot form certain types of suffering.
Your example on cancer highlights just suffering and not desire which i thought is what we were taliking about,ie, Budah abstaining from desire? I thought you were looking at an 'individual's personel suffering in the context as whether Buddhism is the way to personally avoid suffering' so your example of cancer doesnt apply as you go on to say, 'whether actions cause suffering' , as you've got no choice in whether you get cancer or not, i dont see how someones desire causes the cancer patient to suffer.
I was merely highlighting why different types of sufferingfrom diferent kinds of desires,,ie, greed as a desire and inividual desires have different types of suffering, the fact that i mentioned whether they were right or wrong or not was because that's my conclusion. And im out of this thread.
Thunkd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Apr, 2009 06:14 pm
@Caroline,
Caroline wrote:
Innocents do suffer due to greed, for instance, an arms trafficker will sell arms to people who are obviously giong to kill and maime innocents, so they do suffer, the people who make money in selling these arms knowing full well where they are going and for what purpose do it for money=greed=desire for wealth, so i disagree with you.


I'm defining suffering as the distress and negative reaction that someone manifests as a response to bad events. So if someone maims you, you experience pain and loss, but not necessarily suffering. You still can lead a fulfilled happy life, unless you focus on what you've lost, the wrongs done to you, etc. It is your response to that pain and loss that determines if you suffer or not.

Caroline wrote:

I think some suffering you do learn from


I believe that you do grow in response to adversity. I distinguish between adversity and suffering.

Caroline wrote:
i dont see how someones desire causes the cancer patient to suffer.


You can't avoid the pain and mortality of cancer. But you don't have to suffer, you don't have to believe that it has ruined everything for you, to wallow in your misfortune... If you accept that this has happened and let go of your desire to be perfectly healthy, your desire to live a long life, you can still find happiness and fulfillment in the time you do have left. If you cannot let go of how you want things to be, let go of your desire for your life to be perfect, then you will spend the rest of your time suffering.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Apr, 2009 12:30 am
@Kage phil,
You dont think losing a loved one in a war is going to cause you suffering?????????????/ That if you dont focus on it everything will just be alright. like you got a choice, ha i dont thinks so. Taht as long as you focus on something elae the pain and suffering will go away? Try telling that to people who are getting blown way caught up in civil war in Africa, but hey its alright lets give them something else to do and they'll be ok they wont suffer. I strongly disagree with you and on that point im not answering any more of your posts.
And i distingush between what is difficult and what actually hurts, pain and suffering so i still think that you learn from suffering and i still disagree with you.
And again your last paragraph is void because using cancer as an example does not apply because like i said cancer is not caused by a result of someones eles desire. (which is what we're talking about) (again).
If you're not going to read my posts properely im out of this thread. I think i will agree to diagree with you.
Thunkd
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Apr, 2009 06:10 am
@Caroline,
Caroline wrote:
You dont think losing a loved one in a war is going to cause you suffering?????????????/ That if you dont focus on it everything will just be alright. like you got a choice, ha i dont thinks so. Taht as long as you focus on something elae the pain and suffering will go away? Try telling that to people who are getting blown way caught up in civil war in Africa, but hey its alright lets give them something else to do and they'll be ok they wont suffer. I strongly disagree with you and on that point im not answering any more of your posts.
And i distingush between what is difficult and what actually hurts, pain and suffering so i still think that you learn from suffering and i still disagree with you.
And again your last paragraph is void because using cancer as an example does not apply because like i said cancer is not caused by a result of someones eles desire. (which is what we're talking about) (again).
If you're not going to read my posts properely im out of this thread. I think i will agree to diagree with you.


Losing a loved one for whatever reason is a horrible thing. But you can choose to accept your loss, remember the good things about your loved one, and move on with your life. If you continue to rail against what has happened, obsess on how you wanted things to be and be upset that things haven't turned out how you wanted, you will suffer. Some people are able to recover from the death of a loved one, and some never do, that difference is suffering.

I'm not saying that cancer is caused by desire. Cancer is going to happen regardless. You're going to get sick, have pain and die. But you can deal with it and accept what has to happen, or you can continue to rage agaisnt how horrible this is, how it's not what you wanted, how it's not what you desire.... and if you do, you will suffer.


As long as you view suffering as something that comes from outside of us, as something that we cannot avoid you are going to disagree with me. But that is a very bleak viewpoint, because we cannot control whether bad things happen. But we do have a choice whether to suffer.

Let me ask you a question. If the same bad thing happens to two people, and one is able to get over it and let go of their bad feelings about the experience, and the other cannot, but continues to feel horrible about it.... what do you call the difference between their situations. To me, the one has stopped suffering while the other continues to. That's how I define suffering... what would you call that?

Obviously, same bad experience. One is able to feel better, the other cannot. One suffers, one does not. It's not the bad experience... whether that is losing a job, death of a loved one, cancer, etc.... it's the persons reaction to that bad experience.
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Apr, 2009 10:04 am
@Kage phil,
Hi, Thunkd, nice to meet thee! I see our views on the question pretty well coincide. But what should one do when he still craves even knowing that desire is cause of his suffering? Buddha proclaimed that all things in the world has three characteristics: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and absence of self entity. Whether it's a remedy I doubt. First of all mind keeps creating images about possible "heaven" where one can enjoy pleasures without end. And the doctrine of not-self (anatmavada) seems to me, frankly speaking, stupid. I think that we should rather realise how these things are indifferent to our happiness, not even unsatisfactory, but just empty.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Apr, 2009 10:53 am
@Thunkd,
Thunkd wrote:
Losing a loved one for whatever reason is a horrible thing. But you can choose to accept your loss, remember the good things about your loved one, and move on with your life. If you continue to rail against what has happened, obsess on how you wanted things to be and be upset that things haven't turned out how you wanted, you will suffer. Some people are able to recover from the death of a loved one, and some never do, that difference is suffering.

I'm not saying that cancer is caused by desire. Cancer is going to happen regardless. You're going to get sick, have pain and die. But you can deal with it and accept what has to happen, or you can continue to rage agaisnt how horrible this is, how it's not what you wanted, how it's not what you desire.... and if you do, you will suffer.

As long as you view suffering as something that comes from outside of us, as something that we cannot avoid you are going to disagree with me. But that is a very bleak viewpoint, because we cannot control whether bad things happen. But we do have a choice whether to suffer.

Let me ask you a question. If the same bad thing happens to two people, and one is able to get over it and let go of their bad feelings about the experience, and the other cannot, but continues to feel horrible about it.... what do you call the difference between their situations. To me, the one has stopped suffering while the other continues to. That's how I define suffering... what would you call that?

Obviously, same bad experience. One is able to feel better, the other cannot. One suffers, one does not. It's not the bad experience... whether that is losing a job, death of a loved one, cancer, etc.... it's the persons reaction to that bad experience.


I think suffering is how you deal with it so i agree with you on that point and not that it is caused just from the outside, i think we got our wires crossed:) I actually do agree with you in that it's how you look at it and how you deal with it,ie.suffering:)

But what about people who are continuously suffering from the results of greed, (desire), like hunger and lack of medical care, people who are in constant pain because there is a lack of medical care because thier country is poor because the rest of the world is just too greedy to share?
0 Replies
 
Kage phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Apr, 2009 06:28 pm
@Kage phil,
I believe desire can lead to suffering, but I don't believe that all forms of suffering could possibly be explained by desire. A woman is raped in an alleyway. She obviously didn't desire that to happen, but now she must suffer while she carries a baby from a man who she never knew. Obviously one could go on and one with other causes of suffering, but to pass it all off as desire seems to be ignorance of the highest degree.
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 02:38 am
@Kage phil,
Let me remember old Stoic saying: "These are not appearences that people suffer from, but opinions thereof. Change thy opinions and there will be no suffer anymore". Thou art starving -- stop thinking that thou shouldst have thy fill, thou art raped and pregnant -- stop thinking it mustn't be so. All we need to do to overcome suffering is to allow things to be as the World Order, Reason, God, Dao, Karma -- call this as you like -- runs them.
Someone may think it's too rational. But let us remember Jan Huss who was burnt and was yet happy, Socrates who had to take poison and was yet happy. Every one can remember far more examples. Francis of Assisi even said that it's just when everything goes wrong, when we have to be beaten, starving and stay in cold night outside, that we may experience perfect, supreme joy
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Apr, 2009 04:57 pm
@Eudaimon,
The problem that I see with the four noble truths is its failure to harness individual goals and appetites. It's very ascetic. It seems so focused on the avoidance of suffering that it is afraid to leave itself open to the risk of suffering.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Apr, 2009 07:09 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
The problem that I see with the four noble truths is its failure to harness individual goals and appetites.


How so?

hue-man wrote:
It seems so focused on the avoidance of suffering that it is afraid to leave itself open to the risk of suffering.


I think you've missed the point. The basic recognition is that to live is to suffer: so Buddhism isn't "afraid to leave itself open to the risk of suffering", instead, Buddhism recognizes that suffering is a universal experience of life. And Buddhism, working under the notion that suffering is something to be eschewed, attempts to find ways to end suffering.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 04:29 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Historically we seek earthly needs in the western ideology and from where these truths originate, relief of life's tribulations was the main goal.Youth springs earthly desires and as age advances and desires fade we look more and more inwards to the real truths in life.Eastern cultures have the edge on us, they prepare their youths for these truths and the shock is not so unexplainable.When we have learned philosophers not fully understanding the concept it make me wonder how far we have drifted from our true intentions.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 10:27 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Buddhism recognizes that suffering is a universal experience of life. And Buddhism, working under the notion that suffering is something to be eschewed, attempts to find ways to end suffering.
This is where, of course, the translation of dukkha as "suffering" is problematic. Buddhism is NOT (as you know DT, but others may not) referring to the same suffering that the English word commonly describes. It's referring mainly to wanting or craving among humans, most specifically the sense that we are unfulfilled -- we live in a state of dysequilibrium, and meditation (and ultimately nirvana) are the contrasting equilibrium state. The direct translation of dukkha is "uneasiness". The use of the term "suffering" gives this a more doleful moral spin, which perhaps elevates its appearance of urgency in Buddhist teaching.
0 Replies
 
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 10:47 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
How so?


Because it seems to suggest that one should not have any desires. I agree with a lot of what it says, but I just think that it inspires asceticism, and asceticism undoubtedly fails to harness natural appetites.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
I think you've missed the point. The basic recognition is that to live is to suffer: so Buddhism isn't "afraid to leave itself open to the risk of suffering", instead, Buddhism recognizes that suffering is a universal experience of life. And Buddhism, working under the notion that suffering is something to be eschewed, attempts to find ways to end suffering.


Maybe I'm confusing Buddhism with Taoism. Which Eastern Philosophy tradition is it that says to separate yourself from everything that you are afraid to lose?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 10:53 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
I just think that it inspires asceticism, and asceticism undoubtedly fails to harness natural appetites.
Even the story of the Buddha himself negates asceticism -- he tried and rejected it. Buddhism in practice is a stunningly diverse religion, and believe me that the asceticism in Japanese Buddhism is very much contradicted by the absence of asceticism in Tibetan Buddhism.
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 11:50 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Even the story of the Buddha himself negates asceticism -- he tried and rejected it. Buddhism in practice is a stunningly diverse religion, and believe me that the asceticism in Japanese Buddhism is very much contradicted by the absence of asceticism in Tibetan Buddhism.


I admit that I'm not as well learned in eastern philosophy as I am in western philosophy. In some sense, Buddhist ethics seems to be compatible with Aristotle's virtue ethics.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 12:42 pm
@Kage phil,
Some extremes of Buddhist metaphysics (e.g. everything, including the self or other selves, is illusory, i.e. the doctrine of nothingness), make one wonder how a meaningful moral philosophy can come of it.

But in the end, most different cultures have reasonably compatible moral schema regardless of their religion or philosophy. We subconsciously rationalize basic morality into our religious traditions, whatever they happen to say.
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Apr, 2009 03:11 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Some extremes of Buddhist metaphysics (e.g. everything, including the self or other selves, is illusory, i.e. the doctrine of nothingness), make one wonder how a meaningful moral philosophy can come of it.


My biggest quarrel with Buddhism is the agnostic mysticism in its metaphysics. The reincarnation & nirvana bit doesn't strike me as truthful. Mahayana Buddhism also believes in some force deities or some non-sense like that.

I still, however, respect some elements of Buddhism's ethical beliefs, and it is less misguided and irrational than faith based religions. I believe that's why it is appealing to westerners who recognize the fallacy of revelation/faith based religion but still want an off-the-rack worldview.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 09:43 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
My biggest quarrel with Buddhism is the agnostic mysticism in its metaphysics. The reincarnation & nirvana bit doesn't strike me as truthful. Mahayana Buddhism also believes in some force deities or some non-sense like that.
This is so variable that it's hard to generalize. In general the Mahayana Buddhist traditions believe in the bhodisattva, which are more like angels than like deities, but fundamentally are higher beings who have foregone entry into nirvana in order to help others achieve it. They serve as ideals that lie at the core of Buddhist moral philosophy.

The reincarnation / nirvana aspect can easily be understood as allegorical.
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 12:32 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
This is so variable that it's hard to generalize. In general the Mahayana Buddhist traditions believe in the bhodisattva, which are more like angels than like deities, but fundamentally are higher beings who have foregone entry into nirvana in order to help others achieve it. They serve as ideals that lie at the core of Buddhist moral philosophy.

The reincarnation / nirvana aspect can easily be understood as allegorical.


I've heard some Buddhists speak about nirvana, reincarnation, and those force-like deities, and it doesn't seem allegorical to me. They seem to literally believe in that crap. I mean, one can interpret it as allegorical or metaphorical, but I don't believe that that's the intent.
 

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