If you had a button called ’ INSTANT ENLIGHTENMENT’ which provided you with the highest form of enlightenment/satori…would you use it to bypass all of life’s suffering?
Button in hand,
I would approach you with great solemnity and nod at the button.
If you reached for it, I would put it behind my back.
If you protested I would blither about the Path.
If you protested further, I would send you MN10.
And I would fly to the highest mountain and put the button on top.
And tell you it was there.
I see you, Mara.
There were also some interesting answers here: Would you take a Nibbana-pill?
Yes, I absolutely would. I’d be stoked.
The Buddha said it would be a good deal to get stabbed by 300 spears a day for 100 years to realize stream entry, so pushing a button or taking a pill is an even better deal. I can understand the desire to enjoy the journey and to see the romance of struggle and joy on the path. But note that getting speared regularly is not part of the path. So methinks it’d be unwise to refuse the pill or not push the button.
“Bhikkhus, suppose there were a man with a life span of a hundred years, who could live a hundred years. Someone would say to him: ‘Come, good man, in the morning they will strike you with a hundred spears; at noon they will strike you with a hundred spears; in the evening they will strike you with a hundred spears. And you, good man, being struck day after day by three hundred spears will have a life span of a hundred years, will live a hundred years; and then, after a hundred years have passed, you will make the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths, to which you had not broken through earlier.’
“It is fitting, bhikkhus, for a clansman intent on his good to accept the offer. For what reason? Because this saṃsara is without discoverable beginning; a first point cannot be discerned of blows by spears, blows by swords, blows by axes.
Unfortunately there’s no button or pill so there’s nothing to do but follow the path. But fortunately the path can be pleasant and the fruit always is. Continuing the above sutta:
And even though this may be so, bhikkhus, I do not say that the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths is accompanied by suffering or displeasure. Rather, the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths is accompanied only by happiness and joy. What four? The noble truth of suffering … the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
“Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’” - SuttaCentral
Yes, of course…in the meantime there is ice-cream.
And I would climb that mountain. Thank you.
Thanks. Guess I missed that. And when typing the question I received no notice from the automated notification thing.
And even ice cream causes suffering. Sigh, okay…no pill!
My suffering is the ice-cream running out.
Yes of course, and my suffering is the craving that exemplifies a horrible obsession with the body called ASS FAT!
Even the enjoyment of ice cream changes especially if you eat too much .
But… if you were Awakened, you could still see the journey, the romance, the struggle, and the joy. You just wouldn’t be inflicting suffering upon yourself and others as you did so.
If you want to inflict suffering on yourself, no one can stop you. But if you have a choice about inflicting suffering on other people, or not, I would hope that you choose the less harmful path. I’d push instantly, for the sake of the suffering that wouldn’t arise in others.
And therein lies the paradox. Because even after pushing or not pushing the button, we all still need to walk the mountain, knowing:
1.9.34To never be content with skillful qualities, and to never stop trying
I must work on ceasing my ‘craving’ for a personal…real human teacher who apparently will not appear in this lifetime… In lieu of that I query my sangha:
Would the converse, as often suggested in this lovely text, be also accurate as in ceasing desire or craving:
As in “Be content, and stop trying”?
I stumbled upon this by accident during another search and it seems very similar to 1.9.34. Is this just a matter of ‘other’ interpretation?
All translations become obsolete as living languages change. Just try speaking Shakespearean to a random person and we will both likely get a very odd look.
Since Pali is a dead language, its meaning never changes. By “dead” I mean we don’t go around changing Pali word meanings. Languages change within a single lifetime. They change more rapidly now given Marketing Slogans.
The link you posted was to DN33 by T.W & C.A.F RhysDavids. That English translation of 1.9.34 is fading into antiquity as:
Discontent in meritorious acts and perseverance in exertion.
Bhante Sujato is still very much alive and contemporary, so his translation has a broader understanding for today:
To never be content with skillful qualities, and to never stop trying
You’ll notice that modern English uses shorter words. This is not a problem with either translation, it’s just that many people today don’t understand “perserverance in exertion.” It sounds like Shakespeare to them.
One might think so. I certainly thought so at one point blissing out for years in meditation. Then I went rock climbing and got terrified. My prior contentment was a sham. So I got my ass back in gear and started trying again.
It’s like a jet engine. A jet engine at rest is quite content because it’s not trying. Our work is to remove the sand in the turbine shaft so the jet engine can turn freely at maximum power. That work is endless and very … trying.
Dear Friend, thank you so much for your presence here with me in anwering some of my questions.
Buddhism seems full of contradictions, often like more complicated koans. Even your description of your personal path seems puzzling. If you escaped the suffering through meditation, what made it a sham. I thought everything but the Dhamma was a sham. Oh wait. Is that your point?
I don’t know why I think that ‘working at it’ is the opposite of cessation. And regarding that voluminous sutta about ‘Reciting in Concert’, is there merit in the group recitation? Should I recite it in solitude?
Thanks for your patience. W/Metta!!!
I used to have this idea that meditation was sitting in a certain posture. After initial ouchies, it became pleasant and I looked forward to it. And because of meditation, my life became full of contentment. I was the cat purring on the cushion. I thought this was it.
But life is not so kind to let us hang around in contentment. Life, as it does, slams a hurricane into us or an earthquake or cancer or you-pick-a-disaster. When that disaster happens will we still have our contentment? Maybe not.
When I went climbing I became terrified because when we climb and look down, Death looks right back at us. Smashing down we go to strawberry jam all gone death. There was no contentment here. Just fear and dread. This was suffering. My contentment was a sham because I still suffered. I had not tried hard enough.
So I took climbing as my meditation and whenever I felt contentment I simply looked down at Death. Death kept me honest. Death encouraged my meditation. Death kept me trying. And in exchange for relinquishing contentment, Death gave me the gift of equanimity. Equanimity takes a lot of trying. I’ve been climbing for over twenty years and am still trying. And I still look down.
By all means do sitting meditation. It is good and contentment will fill your life. When contentment fills your life, keep trying for Equanimity. Equanimity is looking at Life and Death in the same way.
I agree that the trying/working are used in contradictory ways in everyday speech. Tanouye Roshi explained how we should clarify this trying/working. He told us to check our foreheads.
If you are trying/working at holding on, your forehead will be wrinkled. This is Preparation-H style of trying. Let’s just call it “straining”. This is the opposite of cessation. Just like you said.
If you are trying/working to relinquish/cease/fade-away/let-go, your forehead will not be wrinkled. But you may cry and be relieved facing uncomfortable thoughts with an open heart. This is not easy, and we have to try and work at it.
There’s nobody for me to chant with either. This is one of the reasons we have SuttaCentral Voice. Now when I listen to any sutta, I know that someone else out there (perhaps you?) is listening to a sutta also. And if you and I both choose to recite what we hear, well…then, I say we are reciting together. And reciting together is better than reciting alone.
Here is what I listen to five times a week walking meditation. It is DN33:
I am inspired by your honesty regarding both your commitment, and your openess about the struggle involved in ‘becoming’. And you remind me that contentedness is not the same as liberation. Indeed the state of being content creates a false sense of security. Yet here is no apparent way to steel ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of life’s suffering. I often think while sitting here in my cozy room, in front of my digital window to the world, "Ah yes, I am reading and doing Buddhism and life is grand’, but when the coffee pot breaks down the SHIT HITS THE FAN!
Probably not! And truly facing our own death remains an exercise in the abstract which can in no way compare to the actual experience. Even trying to steel myself for the permanent departure of a loved one seems safely distant. In the meantime we are left with only these mid-level increments of suffering which occasionally assume gargantuan proportions.
Slightly off topic I just received this message, which caused me a small moment of suffering, from some cyber-god:
" Have you considered replying to other people in the discussion, too? A great discussion involves many voices and perspectives.
If you’d like to continue your conversation with this particular user at length, send them a personal message."
Thank you for a sense of fellowship. I will listen, and try to walk.
W/Metta my friend.