SuttaCentral

"Life is Suffering"


#21

I didn’t say that in these in absolute terms… One can know when something is pleasurable or not, and it doesn’t mean the understanding there is dukkha in the existence will dissapear.
Well, also we can find inside Suttas many episodes in where Buddha and disciples were pleased with this or that thing, meals… knowing when something is beauty or not… etc
It would be unnatural or wrong knowing the pleasurable as unpleasurable or the inverse.


#22

Sometimes somethings can be pleasant (ice-cream) but unsatisfactory (fattening). It’s not a black or white situation. It’s rather the utility of what you are trying to use it for. Ice cream is great!


#23

agree… sometimes we reject pleasurable things because we already know the next dukkha :slight_smile:

At all Dhamma is not an Ikea manual neither a relation of automatisms. Live is complicated and outside books. One try the best he can, and if finally it doesn’t work, moment to remember all happpen because conditions :innocent:


#24

How does the idea that all happens because of conditions help you. :slightly_smiling_face:


#25

If the enjoyment comes from relishing praise, then that would embolden conceit.
If the enjoyment comes from acknowledging an opposing point of view, then that would be inclusive.

I think mindfulness might restrain the first and nurture the second.
What do you think?


#26

Delight in the dhamma can last all the way up to the non-returner stage! It’s not that sense pleasures are somehow ‘evil’, but rather that they can lead to cravings, which leads to suffering, now and here after. Arahanths enjoy pleasures, as they don’t have the ability to give rise to cravings and even more, ignorance which is at the root of cravings.


#27

I see some interesting points here…

There are ‘pleasures’ which come for the somewhat developed mind with a built-in regret. For example the pleasure in seeing my enemy suffer. Someone on the path has a pretty quick understanding that this pleasure will collapse in itself. I would count relishing praise vs inclusiveness in there too.

What you bring up here is the consequences of pleasure, and this is quite correct, both psychologically and ‘buddhistically’. But, since we now engage in the arithmetics of pleasure, let’s take any given situation and see the possible negative results of pleasure (i.e. craving etc.), but also the positive results of pleasure (energy, motivation, etc.). Just what we so gravely forget is another calculation: What is the price for not experiencing pleasure in this moment vs. the benefit of it.

I want to focus on the latter. We agree I think that life is quite rough for many people, even Buddhists. If I deny myself the experience of ‘primitive’ pleasure and my ‘battery is empty’ (which implies that I have no access to jhana) then this is the path to frustration, depression, and in the end too little strength to seriously pursue the path.

In fact, the involuntary version of this is depression: people don’t know anymore how to enjoy themselves, nothing is fun anymore, there seems to be no reward in any activity, neither sensual nor mental or subtle. And in case you are not aware of it, but depression is for modern societies one of the most serious health issues in general.

I don’t think it’s far fetched to say that a mis-applied Buddhism can steer into or aggravate a depressive state of mind, simply because I cut off reliable sources of joy without adding new sources somewhere else.

To close the argument… yes, when a ‘pleasure’ comes with its built-in regret then one should avoid it because it drains the battery as much as it charges it. But I refuse to accept that correctly applied Buddhist practice means to spoil the otherwise harmless joy I experience, be it a party with friends, or cultural events, nature, etc. I can work on the insight into the mechanics of craving, but to devoid myself the joys in life out of a slavish following of a supposed Buddhist doctrine that says that any joy apart from jhana/nibidda/nibbana is evil, is I think is a recipe for disaster for the human mind.


#28

One gets pleasure from the absence of suffering - equanimity is a deeper less ‘aggitated’ type of pleasure.

I think the problem lies in understanding ‘pleasure’ seeing through the delusion of the things we are conditioned to view as pleasurable and worthy of pursuit.
For example when enmeshed in desire one may enjoy short term coarse pleasure that leads to suffering such as drinking too much alcohol, like an extra marital affair… taking different kinds of pleasure enhancing drugs, or gambling etc

I don’t believe that at any time the Buddha would have advised this - following rites and rituals slavishly is not wisdom. Rather as understanding and insight into the process of re-birth and causes and conditions ripens, then one’s understanding and values inherently change. The things that one views as pleasurable actually alter. Nibbida arises.

Until this time there are many wholesome pleasures, that you mention, and these are encouraged :slight_smile:
It is all about realising that this is a gradual path… that whilst on the path understanding and sankharas alter or are destroyed. This changes the landscape so dramatically, that renunciation is a pleasure, a release from burdens. That is the right time to apply the levels of distance you are talkning about. Right up to the point where, as Ajahn Chah says -practice to Die before you die. Unless in the right frame of mind, and with all the preparation required, this would be a terrible and unwholesome thing to attempt.

This is of course just my opinion, resulting from my practice and study. I would be very grateful if any of the Venerables, seeing any mistakes in this post would correct them
:anjal: :dharmawheel:


#29

I refuse to accept that correctly applied Buddhist practice means to spoil the otherwise harmless joy I experience, be it a party with friends, or cultural events, nature, etc. I can work on the insight into the mechanics of craving, but to devoid myself the joys in life out of a slavish following of a supposed Buddhist doctrine that says that any joy apart from jhana/nibidda/nibbana is evil, is I think is a recipe for disaster for the human mind.

in that side just to tell it is no openly taught that somebody can enter in the stream living surrounded by such noise for the senses, or even being quite ignorant on Dhamma. However, it happens.


#30

How does the idea that all happens because of conditions help you. :slightly_smiling_face:

this applied thought increase detachment, and sense of me and mine lose power. Then negative emotions has less space to be sustained. Same than remembering “it’s not me, not mine”… Well that’s a truth because all is happpening because conditions, no difference at all.


#31

Well, according to this one guy known as the Buddha, it is all a piece of faeces. Even jhana is a piece of this very substance, after all. So yeah, pretty much.

Again, yep, you have pretty much nailed it. Don’t like it? Me neither, but this is the harsh reality. As I see it, you don’t have to forcefully make yourself think about everyone dying and life sucking, but seeing an experience for what it is part of a fully-fledged monastic practice as I see it now.

That said, I am a not in a 100% full-on Bodhisatta mode, so I love me some coffee, I like watching a good movie, or enjoying a beautiful scenery. Sometimes, during these pleasant moments I start thinking about it being a sensual pleasure the Buddha warned us about, but then I start ignoring these thoughts again. Probably, this is the reason I have spent these gazillions of years in Samsara, dang!


#32

Dukkha, being not real, arises (by conditions, which are anicca ‘impermanence’); having arisen it ceases completely (by conditions). It is a result of previous action (karma), but there is no doer (anatta ‘not-self’). Thus, dukkha ‘suffering’ is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self. Nothing is belonging to my self (anatta).


#33

Allow me to take the above just as a good example of two incompatible thoughts, I don’t comment on you specifically, as the minds of most of us are full with similar items…

I’m interested in the mental micro-processes involving these phenomena. “It is all crap” is an attitude, a filter that becomes part of the set of rules governing my judgment of situations (hence a ditthi, psychodynamically becoming part of the ‘super-ego’). “I love my coffee” is a direct experience, whose joy must be based on another attitude/set-of-rules, which might be called “pursue sensual pleasure”.

In this case, if both rules demand to be followed at the same time with an equal value, I have two possibilities:

  1. being trapped in a dilemma, becoming neurotic, doomed to endure an endless thought process which tries to solve a problem that cannot be solved in a simple way, or by devaluating one of the two rules - a fragmented mind, ‘the normal case’, with aversion against fragmented parts of the mind and ‘myself’, aversion against certain experiences, self-contempt when failing, self-praise when succeeding
  2. transcending the aversion towards sensual pleasure and the pursuit of it (in practice, their oscillation) in favor of an insight into the nature/mechanics of the mind which basically consists of such conflicting views and attitudes. An understanding of “ah, so this is what the mind does, creating rule-conflicts, eventually rendering me fragmented, and helpless, emptying my battery…”
  3. (another experience which renders both above irrelevant, e.g. jhana, where the higher mind ‘de-conditions’ the lower mind, and creates a momentary attitude of “ah, who cares about this mind, with its struggles of aversion, pursuits, and transcendence. Let me enjoy this fresh clean slate”)

#34

People often use sense pleasures to counteract the effects of guilt, stress, depression and so on. It’s a mechanism of coping with life in general. It would be foolish to suddenly stop all sense pleasures and pretend to be an arahanth. It’s a gradual path. The Buddha said it would be meaningless to be lay person and be unable to enjoy sense pleasures. Rather the path is to be mindful while enjoying sense pleasures so that wisdom grows and sense pleasures stop being so alluring.


#35

I have the sense of moving away from one thing, and towards another. Away from movement and towards stillness is one way of putting it.
For me it doesn’t work to just reject stuff (eg the aggregates), that feels too nihilistic. There needs to be something more meaningful and satisfying to replace it with.


#36

Yes, Gabriel, I’m having a great time, so life sucks. Wash, rinse repeat!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#37

Might you have the quote for this? I’d like to study it a bit more. :pray:


#38

Me too!


#39

@karl_lew you always ask me for the quote I can’t find anymore! Can’t you ask about satipatthana or something?!


#40

I know. I’m horrible in that OCD way. :laughing:

I looked myself for the quote and couldn’t find it. The nuance of your quote is intriguing because I’m a lay person who has found standard lay pleasures increasingly uncompelling. I haven’t forced myself to stop watching movies, it’s just that I end up walking out of shows to go sit in the quiet night, for example. This happened when I accompanied my wife on her vacation to London and we went to see Wicked. The show was very well done and the performance was excellent but my experience of it was unpleasant because of the incessant clamor for attention. So I left a once in a lifetime experience.