Crowdsourcing A Positive Take From Buddhism

Buddhism can often seem negative.

The subject matter often contributes to that, as well as the style of many writings.

It is kind of dragging me down a little bit reading some writings every day.

Below is a list of positive aspects of Buddhism I made to help bolster my attitude and point it in a better direction.

I would like to invite people to add positive aspects of Buddhism that I have missed.

I would also like to make a request of people kind enough to spend their time answering my post.

I’m always interested in other peoples take on Buddhism as it helps me see things. However, if you want to go into a deep analysis of a point ( or post a very long answer ), mine or someone else’s, please open up a new thread and invite me to read it with a link.

Gratitude

  1. Life and rebirth move progressively toward greater happiness
    2 Rebirth is not an annihilation of who you are anymore than a child becoming an elderly person
  2. Nibanna(Nirvana) is the ultimate happiness
  3. The Buddha stated that nibanna is not annihilation.
  4. Impermanence - every bad thing in the world will come to an end one way or another.
  5. Kamma(Karma) - every good effort we make will eventually produce a good result
  6. The solace described in the Kalama Sutta - even if nothing the Buddha said is true, following the path will make your life happier.
  7. The greater peace of mind through Insight meditation by not identifying with your thoughts & feelings.
  8. The wonderful feelings and protective attitudes that metta meditation generates.
  9. The relaxation of samatha meditation.
  10. The clearness of mind that samatha meditation produces
  11. The pleasure that samatha meditation, access concentration, and the first Jhana produces.
  12. The support that is possible by being in a community of Buddhists for a temple.
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Super-duper positive for your crowdsourcing, quote from Mahāparinibbānasutta DN 16:

The Mirror of the Teaching
Dhammādāsadhammapariyāya

So Ānanda, I will teach you the explanation of the Dhamma called ‘the mirror of the teaching’. A noble disciple who has this may declare of themselves:
Tasmātihānanda, dhammādāsaṁ nāma dhammapariyāyaṁ desessāmi, yena samannāgato ariyasāvako ākaṅkhamāno attanāva attānaṁ byākareyya:

‘I’ve finished with rebirth in hell, the animal realm, and the ghost realm. I’ve finished with all places of loss, bad places, the underworld. I am a stream-enterer! I’m not liable to be reborn in the underworld, and am bound for awakening.’
‘khīṇanirayomhi khīṇatiracchānayoni khīṇapettivisayo khīṇāpāyaduggativinipāto, sotāpannohamasmi avinipātadhammo niyato sambodhiparāyaṇo’ti.

And what is that mirror of the teaching?
Katamo ca so, ānanda, dhammādāso dhammapariyāyo, yena samannāgato ariyasāvako ākaṅkhamāno attanāva attānaṁ byākareyya:
‘khīṇanirayomhi khīṇatiracchānayoni khīṇapettivisayo khīṇāpāyaduggativinipāto, sotāpannohamasmi avinipātadhammo niyato sambodhiparāyaṇo’ti?

It’s when a noble disciple has experiential confidence in the Buddha:
Idhānanda, ariyasāvako buddhe aveccappasādena samannāgato hoti:

‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’
‘itipi so bhagavā arahaṁ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṁ buddho bhagavā’ti.

They have experiential confidence in the teaching:
Dhamme aveccappasādena samannāgato hoti:

‘The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.’
‘svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṁ veditabbo viññūhī’ti.

They have experiential confidence in the Saṅgha:
Saṅghe aveccappasādena samannāgato hoti:

‘The Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is practicing the way that’s good, direct, methodical, and proper. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. This is the Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples that is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world.’
‘suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ujuppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ñāyappaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, sāmīcippaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho yadidaṁ cattāri purisayugāni aṭṭha purisapuggalā, esa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho āhuneyyo pāhuneyyo dakkhiṇeyyo añjalikaraṇīyo anuttaraṁ puññakkhettaṁ lokassā’ti.

And a noble disciple’s ethical conduct is loved by the noble ones, unbroken, impeccable, spotless, and unmarred, liberating, praised by sensible people, not mistaken, and leading to immersion.
Ariyakantehi sīlehi samannāgato hoti akhaṇḍehi acchiddehi asabalehi akammāsehi bhujissehi viññūpasatthehi aparāmaṭṭhehi samādhisaṁvattanikehi.

This is that mirror of the teaching.”
Ayaṁ kho so, ānanda, dhammādāso dhammapariyāyo, yena samannāgato ariyasāvako ākaṅkhamāno attanāva attānaṁ byākareyya:
‘khīṇanirayomhi khīṇatiracchānayoni khīṇapettivisayo khīṇāpāyaduggativinipāto, sotāpannohamasmi avinipātadhammo niyato sambodhiparāyaṇo’”ti.

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Please do not get me wrong, I appreciate the time you took out of your life to compile that reply.

It doesn’t really strike me as positive at all. It reads like self advertising on the Buddha’s part for what he achieved and the achievements are for things that don’t seem very real to an ordinary person in 2022. I guess I am looking for more down to Earth and tangible things.

I have already done what is needed to be done within my ability.
Let’s just agree to disagree. :pray:

Maybe, someone else with compassion and higher ability will come and explain more. :+1:

Like I wrote, I do appreciate your time. Thank you.

I certainly feel you there. There have been many times over the years since I have been a part of this forum, and other Buddhist “circles” that I have left them, temporarily, to come back to mundane reality, and process the prior time spent doing various activities–posting on this forum, reading posts, reading Buddhist literature, studying suttas, etc.

I think the dhamma as it stands is something that helps us on our path through life, but is not necessarily something that every single day we must use a guiding star of some sort … this is my mind would be clinging of sorts. Too much consumption of any one thing can cause headaches, and that is why sometimes it is important to step back and just reflect, and live life. I think this tradition gives us that space, and doesn’t require us to devote literally every second of our lives to studying/reading/interpreting/chanting/meditating/etcetera. The Buddha never gave instructions like “you must meditate for 30 minutes a day, every single day, and do 2 silent retreats per year, and then do this or that and put an apple on an altar…” or anything like that. So, you must be gentle with yourself and certainly not let the dhamma be a source of suffering for you that just compounds on top of daily life stresses.

But, life is suffering, am I right? :rofl:

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I really want it to be inspiring for me, but that just isn’t happening. Sadly it is pulling me in the reverse direction.

That’s because for the most part the dhamma is described by negation.

As this documentary at 4:50 talks about describing nibbana like describing dry land to a tadpole

There are plenty of positive things that bring happiness, but many of them tend to be skipped over in the West. Reflecting on the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, reflecting on one’s good qualities, gratefulness for one’s teachers, being part of a Buddhist community, developing generosity, and so on…

Some may object that these are not deep teachings. On one level that is true. But, on the other hand, they are extremely useful, if not essential, in order to have the motivation and stamina to tackle the more difficult aspects of the Path. Looking for positivity in those difficult aspects seems to me to be looking in the wrong place.

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What is positive, i feel, one becomes more oneself. Some believe this means i have identity view, maybe, i feel it is like this.

When you are a person with strong tendencies, urges, inner floods, impetus, you are often unsatisfied while you react on them. When you start to react in a insensitive, instinctive, crude way on situations and other people. Those inner floods, when they are overwhelming, it leads you as person into a process of self-alienation and becoming insensitive. Your behaviour is not really wise anymore.

Those inner urges which the Buddha described as tanha, asava, anusaya are like floods which overwhelm one. And often at that moment you are not the best version of yourself. You become insensitive, loose your wisdom. The results are not good.

While those inner floods, those urges, weaken due to Dhamma you are more yourself. Nothing is lost. Only becoming insensitive gets lost. You do not get lost.

I believe this means that while we become more and more pure, and our behaviour is less and less instigated by urges, inner floods, becoming less and less attached, we only become more and more ourselves. That itself is a kind of reward and nice. It is nice to experience one does not become a madman anymore, insensitive, because that is dukkha for oneself and others.

By the way, the expression ‘being oneself’ does not mean one has self views, or ego conceit but it means that one does not get lost in the inner floods anymore. One does not self-alieniate and stay sensitive in contact with the world.

Nibbana is ultimate sensitivity and that is its cooling down and happiness.

Thito

8h

That’s because for the most part the dhamma is described by negation.

That is a big part of it. It is also some Buddhists.

In the “Life Is Suffering” thread I mentioned that the Buddha really said birth, old age, sickness, loss, and death were suffering. That on any give day you could be in the park enjoying your life.

Somebody replied to me saying that a nice day in the park was STILL SUFFERING as it was only a temporary break from samsara.

I get that he was likely getting something out of making a clever point.

Who would want to look at life that way though?

You can’t even have a Wednesday afternoon in the park without seeing it as suffering?

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I always take this, or “life is pain” which I find even funnier, as almost a kind of joke in a way haha. I probably use it more than I should without specifying the sarcasm. Guilty as charged, haha.

I think the part you mentioned about enjoying the park is exactly right, going to the park (or outside in general) and enjoying life is quite necessary. Especially since sitting indoors studying alone, or spending time alone in general, can be quite socially isolating for obvious reasons, and in-turn lead to depression, anxiety, etc. Just the way it is for us humans.

There are many things required for our well-being which we know of thanks to various schools to philosophy and science. Nature connection, social bonds, community, economic stability, and many others; so, it is important to note that not all these factors can be satisfied by just sitting around meditating, chanting, reading suttas, or whatever. We must also consider the factors of tangible (albeit mundane) reality, and understand they impact us as well. This is where neoliberal capitalism loves spiritual stuff, especially Buddhism that often seems to encourage this inward focus. Because when all suffering is on the inside (sarcasm) then we are less likely to engage with (and criticize–the old politics avoiding thing is popular in Buddhist circles) a world where many are not granted access at the aforementioned requisites for human happiness/flourishing. So, here are again back at the “life is suffering” thing.

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In the absence of suggestions for what to add to my list, I would have preferred confirmation that my list is pretty much it then some encouragement to focus on it.

I’m trying to find a way to feel better using the concepts in the suttas

Maybe Buddhist Internet Buddhist forums are not the place to find that advice.

I think I will look for a nun or monk with a good command of English and write them a letter.

Personally, I think what you looking for is not to be found in the way in which you hoped it would be. It will be found in changing the way you relate to the world, and possibly in one’s interpretation of what “Buddhist practice” may or may not be. These matters are typically subjective, and as @mikenz66 said, there is happiness (at minimum, contentment) to be found in many ways outside of your list, examples were even shared.

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Not everybody can go directly to Nibbana in one step. The path is a gradual path. Each person has different level and understanding.

Even if Buddhism seems to have pessimistic view of life, it also has positive view of life. It sees that life is precious. It’s against destroying life. Without life, there is no holy life.

The path is a pleasant path, not a miserable path. This is what makes Buddhism special. We pleasantly walk the path and develop wisdom. With the enhanced wisdom, we will naturally drop things that no longer suitable for us and do not feel sorry about that. We will feel even happier by doing so.

When we reached Nibbana, life will have no more meaning to us, and we will naturally see it as a burden for our happiness. At this step, dropping it is bliss, not suffering.

We can see that the path is to find happiness here and now by eventually dropping what will cause sufferings depends on our own level of practice. As this example, we drop killing, taking what is not given…By doing so, we will get the happiness here and now and in the future.

MN46
(4) “What, bhikkhus, is the way of undertaking things that is pleasant now and ripens in the future as pleasure? Here, bhikkhus, someone in pleasure and joy abstains from killing living beings, and he experiences pleasure and joy that have abstention from killing living beings as condition. In pleasure and joy he abstains from taking what is not given…he holds right view, and he experiences pleasure and joy that have right view as condition. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. This is called the way of undertaking things that is pleasant now and ripens in the future as pleasure.

…

Just as, in autumn, in the last month of the rainy season, when the sky is clear and cloudless, the sun rises above the earth dispelling all darkness from space with its shining and beaming and radiance, so too, the way of undertaking things that is pleasant now and ripens in the future as pleasure dispels with its shining and beaming and radiance any other doctrines whatsoever of ordinary recluses and brahmins.

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Hi friend, what a lovely question! I’ve got so many points to add that I hardly know where to begin. Right now I’ll just add my favorite:

The Buddha taught us how to get into replacing unwholesome, unskillful (akusala) states with wholesome, skillful (kusula) states

That is, the 4 parts of step 6 of the 8fold path:
(1) preventing akusala states, and (2) overcoming akusala states - states such as impatience, envy, fear, arrogance, worry, agitation, hate, stinginess, and more;

(3) strategically developing kusala states, then (4) making kusula states a constant habit - states such as patience, non-envy (mudita), faith (saddha), humbleness, confidence, peace / non-agitation, love (metta), generosity, and many more.

Getting familiar with your own mind, especially your habitual mental vulnerabilities and strengths, you strategize how to make best efforts at warding off and escaping from your mind’s worst downsides, and how to best pull up and make delightful states your constant companion.

The rewards are almost immediate and keep bringing relief and happier conditions all day every day.

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What about the brahmaviharas ? Those are very positive emotional states widely promoted by the Buddha and all Buddhist traditions.

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Thank you, Ayyā, for this very helpful reply.

“how to make best efforts at warding off and escaping from your mind’s worst downsides, and how to best pull up and make delightful states your constant companion.
The rewards are almost immediate and keep bringing relief and happier conditions all day every day.”

I think this is so important to keep in mind, and something most of us can aspire to practice, at least at some level.

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I agree. I think that has a lot to do with the teachings seeming to be negative or depressing at times.

For my part, I don’t need to know clearly what it is like, just that it is good and that I get to enjoy it.

It seems from the dhamma, I don’t exist anymore after this life. Just my memories in someone else’s unconscious and my karma stamped on their life. So it doesn’t seem like I survive, which is depressing nor that I get to enjoy nibanna. That is one of the thoughts that is making the dhamma look bleak to me.

The Buddha gave us step-by-step instructions how to develop lovely, uplifting mettā to all beings

This is no vague advice to show amity towards neighbors. It’s a life-changing practice that silences inner negativities, uplifts & calms one’s mind. Metta can soften even a generally irritable heart into a lingering state of peace & goodwill towards not only ordinary folks but even the nearly universally-disliked beings.

When well-developed, metta brings [16 lovely gifts] [edit – oops, eleven, heh] (SuttaCentral).

(Thank you so much for your question dear @Jhana4; due to pondering various possible answers my mood shifted from feeling a bit anxious to having a constant bright smile)

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