Naive about the Truth of Suffering

Isn’t it strange that we have had endless lifes in samsara in which we really experienced decay, sickness, pain, death, loss, that we can still be shocked by it? Why? Why our our lives not fully attuned to the reality of this suffering inherent to existence? Why are we not realistic? Why am i born so naive?

How it is possible that even a sammasambuddha can be totally shocked by realising that he also is of the nature of becoming old, sick, and die?

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I think it’s because we don’t remember our past lifes. So every experience becomes a new one once again - and the unpleasantness of life is one of them.
It’s as if a man with amnesia sees his beloved wife - and don’t even recognise her, don’t have any feelings for her. We are like this: we see Samsara once again and don’t expect to suffer, because we don’t remember the previous suffering. And without memory there can be no attuning to anything.

You know, in the sci-fi series “Black Mirror” there is an episode about a woman, who is tortured for her crimes. Her memory is wiped out and there are people hunting her and hurting her - and she doesn’t know who she is, or who they are and why are they torturing her and wanting to kill her. At the day’s end her memory is wiped again and in the morning it all begans anew.
It really reminds me of Samsara. We don’t know why we suffer, we don’t know what we did to earn this - or if we did anything at all. We just fight, run and cry, desperately triyng to reach a safe harbour, not knowing that in Samsara there isn’t one.


AN 3.39 makes it pretty clear. And in our contemporary world it takes so little effort to be pleasantly distracted, which essentially puts the entire world between us and the plain and simple truth about existence.

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What i see is that there are all kind of sub-conscious tendencies, views, patterns which are part of our dispostion as humans which show that in a sub-consious way we appreciate life very much, we defend our lifes. For every living being life is very precious.

There is the stress-system with its flee, fight and freeze patterns. There is a sense of danger. A sense of loosing life. There is the instinctive crying of the newborn to get attention because it is totally dependend on others care.

It seems like in a sub-conscious way i am not naive about the Truth of Suffering. My body and mind are attuned to it. But in conscious way i can still be naive.

Maybe it is also just the circumstances. Probably people living in nature, close to nature, are much more realistic and less naive about suffering. We also have hided al lot of suffering from seeing. We do not see the slaughter of animals, we do seldomly see very sick people, very old people in their beds, etc. Like @SDC says. I guess it is very close related to the set up of our society and the way we live that we can be naieve.

But probably it also has biological roots. For young people it is not easy to empathize with others. One also must have a certain ripeness from life experience.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Human birth IS very rare and precious, so it’s wise to try and make it last longer. The longer you live as a human, the longer you get to practice the Dhamma.

I do not know. I have no direct knowledge of all those realms of samsara. And also not about the rarity of human birth. I am not sure about this. I think every being feels its life is precious.

I know the rarity of human birth is described in the sutta’s, but i find it difficult because there are evolutionairy clues that that the human body stems from primitive life and animal life.
What does it mean to be human? Must one have a human body?

I have some feeling that is possible that a coarsening took place over time and from freely in the air living beings, fed by delight, we developed into what we are now, but at the same time it feels a bit farfetched too. Maybe an attempt to explain what one was not able to explain yet. I am not sure about this. Maybe in a certain sense the forming of visible organisms can be seen as a coarsening indeed.

But i have more feeling for the idea that beings do not fundamentally differ. The nature of mind is for every being the same, pure, but adventitious defilements rule all beings. So i like to belief that an animal does not fundamentally differ from a human.

To clarify, I was just emphasizing how much more so the nature of our contemporary world facilitates an indulgence in these intoxications, but that the principle remains unchanged, and is even comparable to the indulgence by those refined luminous beings from DN 27. These inclinations are there (MN 64), and the point seems to be that it is far easier to partake in sensuality and win many short-termed battles than it is to face the obvious culmination of old age, disease and death. There is that sensual option, and on account of the established inclinations, the majority will take the path of least resistance.

This is just my opinion, but I would stand clear of any biological explanation as to avoid the possibility of denying responsibility for the choice to act in the direction of unwholesome. Sure, the body may be raging, and the mind pressured at the anticipation for a sensual act, but to let down the guard and allow those senses to seek their feeding grounds (SN 35.247) is a choice. That anticipation and welcoming of the opportunity to allow the senses free rein is the principle of sensuality of itself, far more so than whatever act is the culmination in a particular instance.

Each individual has a different case and will face unique pressures, but it is a matter of either riding along with the mind’s preference or drawing a line when it comes to virtue and restraint. If a person has not properly reflected on what is really waiting for them in this experience they won’t be able to see the danger in making the most of youth, health and life while they have it. In fact, it can be almost elementary to use a tool while it is new and effective rather than to leave it alone to eventually become less useful, and for most people the choice is simple: “I don’t know exactly how this is all going to end so I may as well enjoy myself.” Yet, we know exactly where it is going to end, and not only with broken teeth and failing senses - the body can break when it is seemingly young and healthy as well. That is what happens next. A person needs to see the danger in using this time to ignore what is most certainly waiting for us, but the only way to feel that in a way that is life-altering is to recollect it often. That can be a tall order for most.

Hope this is helpful.


Yesterday i realised that my approach was wrong. Sorry for that.

In fact i was not naive about the truth of suffering. That was not really the shock. The real shock for me was that i lost trust in life when i was confronted with illness, decay, death in my close surroundings. THAT was the real crises.

In some way life felt as good, holy as a child. But this irrational feeling was challenged. It felt like suffering was unjust and life was not meant to be so merciless.

I shared this with a buddhist teacher. He said to me…“.this is why we practice Dhamma”.

I feel that is true. There can never ever be peace, happiness, when there is no trust in life. While children have a kind of irrational trust in life, a irrational belief that life is good, when one start to see how life is, this is challenged. It can even disappear. Then one has a big problem.

Like my teacher said, Dhamma is about winning trust again but now with eyes opened. How can one with eyes opened still have trust in life?

Is trust in life the same as attachment to life? I do not think so. Because one attaches especially from fear, distrust, anxiety. Trust in life means one can easily let go.
Trust in life is not the same as attachment to ones life now as a human. Is trust in life different from trust in Dhamma?

But for me the real shock of the truth of suffering is that it challenges that deep irrational feeling that life is good, holy.

That is somewhat relative . Real Trust arises when one pierce through life , nothing to trust and awakens to it , that it doesnt worth hold on to it . Making anything out of life is mere dukkha .

I think we are not naive about death, illness and aging. What is naive is the belief that I will not fall ill today/tomorrow/this year. Or that ‘we didn’t think he would die young’.

Even when seeing that humans die and all those born will die, we irrationally believe that it will happen later after we finished what we want.

We also seek happiness and joy with things that change and end. And we are shocked by the change and the ending when it happened.

Is trust in life the same as attachment to life? I do not think so. Because one attaches especially from fear, distrust, anxiety. Trust in life means one can easily let go.

Trust in what way? As in life is not eternal, that we can’t fully control life. Or that life will bring happiness? life is inherently good/bad/neutral?
What kind of trust you have?

Do you think life can ever end?

Suppose all lifeforms would end tomorrow, would life end?

Yes, that is certaintly an aspect of naivity i see too.

Yes, what is the alternative? Must we all wish to erase ourselves, to vanish, to merely cease? Is that the solution? Is this not a bit dramatic? There is no happiness in impermanent things, so try to cease for ever?

That life itself is holy, in the sense of worth living, worth appreciating, precious, trustworthy, and also in the sense of whole, not divided, not-two. The holiness of wholeness. Real health.

For me a Buddha represents this health, this holiness that is based upon wholeness, ie. the supramundane Noble Path.

I do not believe we must see life as a problem that must be fixed. One must not become anti-life. That is what i feel. If there is a problem it is not life but our understanding. That is what i mean with trust life.

I also believe that at this very moment, in this very life, there is a part of us that is not of this world. It is never influenced by education, raising, bad experiences, it does not age, it does not change from bad into good, or from suffering into happiness, or unfree into free. There is a part that is not influenced by conditioning. It does not change. It is not of this world. I believe this is always present.
This also means that the escape from the world is allready present, was never absent. It is not like one has to create this. The thing to do is end attachments.

If you hadn’t read the book “Buddhist Romanticism” by Thanissarro Bhikkhu, you definitely should.

Your way of thinking is really close to that of Early German Romantics, and I’m sure you’ll find the book really interesting.

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I am not interested in that @Gert. I am interested in Dhamma.

In very short:

The absence of mentallity is a wholeness of mind, a oneness, holiness. The absence of mentallity is the natural expression of a totally pure mind.

Mentallity is commonly related to arising emotions; to like, dislike, indifference towards what is senses, seen, heard, felt etc. But Buddha also teaches an even more subtle mentallity, and this is the sense of me and mine towards what is seen, felt, heard etc.

For example pain. When pain arises there arises a coarse mentallity of dislike towards the pain but also a subtle mentallity of I and ownership of the pain. Such things are governed by anusaya.

I believe Buddha discoverd that this all can end, and in the seen can be merely the seen, in the sensed merely the sensed etc. This means; there is no mentallity at all towards what is sensed etc. Not even a mentallity of me and mine.

So then there is no subject -object duality in the mind. This is, i believe a wholeness, a purity, a holiness that is the Tathagata. I feel this must be the nature of everyone, every being.

To escape suffering, to escape the world, to be detached, one must become one with it and abandon all drifts, all tendencies, inclinations which hinder oneness, wholeness, holiness.

You are interested in Dhamma but not interested in a book about Dhamma written by a bhikkhu?..
Ok, I’ll stop contributing to this thread. It seems quite useless.

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Hi, I am not interested in Early German Romanticism or any kind of romanticism. That’s all.

Some context:

An American child might have learned from early on to have great respect for soldiers who serve their country. They have learned to honour soldiers while they see one.
Here in the Netherlands this is very different. We are not raised this way. We do not have this tradition to honour soldiers. We only become patriots when there is a national soccer game:-)

Traditionally we fear patriotism, all this grandeur, flags, parades, the promissed land, the promissed welfare, the promissed heaven, the beloved motherland, all this mass hypnoses of the good versus the bad etc. It reminds us of the nazi regime. Brainwashing for the mass. The allure of such grant visions, such illusions which will only become nightmares. We tend to see patriotism as a sign things will go wrong soon.

But, if you are an American or a Dutchman such things are mere conditioning, habits, learning, learnt patterns, learnt ideas, mind-washing as it were. One cannot say this is the real nature of the American mind or the Dutch mind. It is all adventitious, bagage.

In essence the mind of an American and a Dutchman are not different at all. The essence for all is the uninclined, unconditioned, emptiness, purity. Without seeing what is adventitious there can be no development of mind (AN1.51).

This sameness, wholeness, emptiness, essential purity of mind has nothing to do with romanticism, i feel, but is fact of life and taught by Buddha. Like the descent into emptiness (MN121). It is not that there is an American or Jewish or Buddhist emptiness. It is for everyone the same.

I feel you describe how you are making the best out of life. How you feel this. How you see this.
I feel it the same way.

No that’s not the solution. Since there are no lasting happiness and suffering when we cling, we should we still cling to life?
We can still respond to life but with the knowledge that it is temporary and not worth clinging to.

life is impermanent and liable to suffering, and I cannot take it be mine and wish 'Life is such or ‘life is not this way’ and life tends to end.

I also believe that at this very moment, in this very life, there is a part of us that is not of this world. It is never influenced by education, raising, bad experiences, it does not age, it does not change from bad into good, or from suffering into happiness, or unfree into free. There is a part that is not influenced by conditioning. It does not change. It is not of this world. I believe this is always present.

I find this view to be really similar to soul - an eternal unchanging part within us that is pure and perfect.
But as Buddha often said, can you find evidence of this unchanging life outside of reality? If it’s unchanging and doesn’t change according to your wishes, how come it’s mine? If there is a origin then there is an end.

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I agree, there is no total control, but we are also not totally powerless, and in no way able to have some influence on reality. These are Buddha’s teachings on kamma. In a way with our views, intentions and deeds we create our future world. I very much agree with this insight of the Buddha. We have some influence and controll. Not in the sense of a self but more like creating the right conditions.

And intention is never first. It is always view, because intentions are based upon view. With view i mean that at a certain moment we have a certain understanding of ourselves, others and situations. From that arises certain intentions. Intentions are never first.

That is also why even good intention do not protect oneself, others, or the world. If ones view is wrong whatever intention and deeds one has, the results are not wished for (AN1.314). I believe this is very true.

I have seen this in my own life to. Even with good intentions things can go very bad, very unwished for.

I also feel that one who is really concerned with suffering and the end of suffering is not really concerned with intentions, but view. He/she questions: ‘do i understand reality?’ That is his/her primairy concern. He/she is a Truth-seeker like Buddha because he/she is sure that having mere good intentions is not enough. Instead the road to hell is paved by good intentions. Someone really in heartfelt way want to end suffering needs understanding, wisdom, realitycheck.

About attachment:
I do not experience there must be attachment to something when one appreciates something. For example, i lived in a very rich part of the Netherland with the most beautiful houses and landscapes. I could enjoy seeing the nice houses, the nice shapes, the architecture, but i never felt ‘oh i wish this house was mine’. I also think people who appreciate life will die more peacefully because they feel they have had a rich life. If one cannot trust life i do not think one can die peacefully.

Oke thanks.

My interpretation is like this: Buddha teaches that there is the unconditioned. Its characteristics is that it cannot be seen arising, ceasing and changing in the meantime (AN)

This refers in my opinion to emptiness, the uninclined, signless, Nibbana, the stilling of all formations, the unfabricated, dispassion, cessation, which is never absent. It is in all phases present . In the phase of the wordling, sotapanna, in between and arahant. It is not created, made, produced. One awakens to it, but one does not make it, produce it, nor develop it.

Like the Buddha says in Udana, if this would not be there, there is no escape to the conditioned.
This emptiness cannot be considered as a personal self or as local, i.e. a soul-like entity nor as nothing. It also must not be considered to be me, mine, my self.

Mentallity, any particular mindstate, is a contruction and constructions cease, but emptiness is not like this. It cannot fall apart because it is not build up. This is the meaning of non- agitation, i believe.
The base of non-agitation is something that is not build up, is an unconstructed reality. Is stable.
How can peace be real if there is no base for peace? How can non-agitation be a real fruit, when there are only arising and ceasing formations and constructed reality that all the time falls apart?

Buddha said those who delight in forms, delight in its suffering.

A person who likes the taste of chocolate, enjoys the taste of chocolate. This enjoyment he doesn’t consider as dukkha but as a pleasant event. Why does noble one consider this to be suffering? Because he grasps the taste of chocolate, he will grasp the intention try it again in the future, he will grasp a chances to taste the chocolate, he will grasp the intention to search more information about types of chocolates, he will grasp the intention to speak about taste of chocolate etc.

Due to grasping one, a person will create conditions to grasp more. These grasping will in turn create more grasping. Noble ones call this suffering. Unrealized people call this enjoyment.

Noble ones realize that the nature of taste is a combinations of chemicals present and receptors in the tongue. It is further conditioned by previous perceptions, hunger , want etc.(i.e food will taste better for a hungry person).
As such taste is not just chocolate, it is a combination of events that lead to a particular taste. Noble ones realize that whatever is originated ceases when the conditions change. As such Noble ones doesn’t grasp the taste.