What part of human existence should be enjoyed?

In some of my recent postings I admitted to the personal view that wisdom is realizing that human existence (and/or “creation”, for the lack of a better term) is in itself suffering and inherently flawed.

I did not enjoy expressing this view and after posting always felt a little bad. I do not have the least wish to convince anybody who can get to a more positive outlook on life.

Also, I came across a passage in the Buddhadasa where he warns of this conviction and assures that it is very wrong (which I don’t understand exactly , because everything else in his teaching seems to lead up to this conclusion, much like with the freemasons or ancient gnostics). But he fails to explain this further.

Also, Banthe Sujato in a class I listened to somewhere makes a reference to a funny satire where, after listening to a sermon of the Buddha, all the Bhikkus in a Sangha kill themselves and he, before retiring, remarks to one of his disciples that the Sangha looked “strangely depleted today”. Still the Banthe also assertains that this is not the right way to look at things.

So if I may ask all of you: What, according to EBT Buddhism, is the correct, positive outlook on life? What part of human existence can and should really be enjoyed? What are some Buddhist arguments against Antinatalism (also for people that do not necessesarily believe in the doctrine of rebirth)? Thanks


Uplifting, expansive feelings should be cultivated and practiced in my view so joy, generosity, metta, etc.


According to SN/SA suttas, the Buddha teaches that one knows and sees altogether ‘seven things’ as they really are. One of the seven things that one has to know and see as they really are is the flavour (assada) of the five aggregates/sense spheres. This is about the ease-and-joy (sukkha-somanassa) that arises conditioned by the five aggregates. So, it seems the Buddha recognises that there is also positive outlook on life.

Cf.: What does it mean "to see things as they really are"? - #14 by thomaslaw

For me the Budddha-Dhamma is primairy about the qualities, the happiness, the powers, the wonder of the mind freed from all adventitious defilements. A Buddha shows to the world how we all can be. He shows, as it were, also our ancestral ground.

The pure heart is like a wishfulfulling jewel. I think we can enjoy this realisation of the Buddha, this uncorruptedness, and enjoy the fact that the nature of our mind, or any mind, is also not different. It was pure, it is pure and will always be pure.

Related to this, we can enjoy the message that whatever defilements we have and others have, or whatever unwholesome conditioning patterns we have, they are adventitious, our bagage, never me, never you. More like waves in the sea, or clouds in the sky. Because they are caused, they can also end.
That is very positive. It takes effort but it can.

Do not judge a book on its cover, likewise, do not judge people or beings on their behaviour, because any being is governed by adventitious defilements due to not seeing that those are not me, mine, my self. All beings believe that those patterns are good, wholesome, useful otherwise they would not follow them and invest in them. If we see a snake it habitually sees us as a danger. We do not get bothered by that. We forgive the snake and know this is snake-behaviour. Humans are the same. We also have habits but often we are so bothered, so irritated, so agitated by others. Like we can forgive a snake but not a fellow human for certain behaviour.

I think we can enjoy that we can learn in this human existence, ripen, become a bit more wise, forgiving, empty, Buddha-like, by becoming ourselves.

This is the view of things as they really are. When one gets ‘red - pilled’ and sees the Truth of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta, Fear is bound to arise.

Snp 4.15
The world around was hollow,all directions were in turmoil.
Wanting a home for myself,I saw nowhere unsettled.

MN 82
“Great king, the Blessed One who knows and sees, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha has taught these four summaries of the teaching for recitation. It was after knowing and seeing and hearing these that I went forth from the lay life to homelessness.

What four?

‘The world is unstable and swept away.’ This is the first summary.

‘The world has no shelter and no savior.’ This is the second summary.

‘The world has no owner—you must leave it all behind and pass on.’ This is the third summary.

So this might be where one finds oneself stuck. What more needs to be done? One must see the cause of that Fear, that Angst … that Dukkha that troubles us and stops us from being happy.

Snp 4.15
Then I saw a dart there,
so hard to see, stuck in the heart.

MN 82
‘The world is wanting, insatiable, the slave of craving.’ This is the fourth summary.

And what is that craving that we all have? Its ultimately the desire to Live Forever (Eternalism) … as well as its antipode … the desire to End It All Now (Annihilationism).

Treading the middle path, one could enquire into the cause of the Fear (MN4), see things as they really are - arising and ceasing dependent on conditions and one might be able to let go and accept Life as it really isyet still find meaning in it - for instance the Buddha, even after enlightenment found meaning in teaching and setting an example for future generations (MN4).

So, IMO - all of it!

“I” am certainly not getting out of it alive :rofl:, so I try to enjoy every bit of it - the ups as well as the downs… trying my best to know the kaleidoscope of Life as simply dependently originated phenomena - Anicca… liable to cause Dukkha if taken too seriously… certainly not mine … beyond my control - Anatta.

In that Letting go and Letting be lies Freedom. :rainbow:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
- William Shakespeare

PS - An excellent (non buddhist - yet strangely buddhist?) book that I found helpful in this regard was Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”.

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Thank you Doc. I read all of Frankl! One thing I miss in his work is that he never seems to touch “cosmical” meaning at all and rather always focuses on individual (material?) meaning. How could he never have pondered metaphysics with all that he had to witness in his life?

With the Buddha I would argue that metaphysics are somehow more implicit. Or let’s say I’m trying to find out (with posts like this one) if that is really the case or if it is just me.

Sorry, had to :wink:

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Well, the Buddha too urged us to focus on the primary goal - Dukkha - and its cessation :slightly_smiling_face: :sunflower:. He tried his best to orient his interlocutors in that direction and away from Metaphysics (see SN44.7 for instance, featuring my personal favourite- Vacchagotta :older_man:)… offering only tantalizing hints when they persisted (MN72).

The reason the Buddha preferred to avoid Metaphysics is that it represents the third trap of Mara :supervillain:- the thicket of views (MN 25). Sure, there might be some ultimate Cosmic Meaning to Life for example - or there might not! But how would it matter to us, here and now? Let’s say a particular answer (42! :joy:) was stated by an Authority as correct - would that lessen our Suffering?

Dukkha and its cessation - and by extension our understanding of Life and what it means to us - is IMO a very personal affair. It cannot be brought about by anyone other than ourselves - even the Buddha can do little else but point the way (MN 107) . Each of us, personally must comprehend the First Noble Truth with regard to our own human existence. And it is us, personally who must make an effort to realize the Second and Third Truths and develop the Fourth Noble Truth. And the path being conditioned while the goal is not - we might reach Enlightenment by dinnertime - or it might take many lifetimes!

What we can do is to persevere in our practice of Dhamma (SN 3.25). Therein lies happiness (AN 2.64 - 76)

Anything else is but a temporary distraction.

:blossom: :lotus: :blossom:


As well as the eight subjects to be covered in Bikkhu Bodhi’s upcoming online retreat, I would also include meditation on the breath, and follow advice to a layperson in Anguttara Nikaya 11.12.

Ideally, all of it! Failing that, as much as is metaphysically possible :slight_smile:

In all seriousness though, the actual praxis described quite vividly in the EBT, CLEARLY describes a path of exquisite pleasures, called jhana, each more sublime than the last.

These experiences are better than orgasm or the best drug you ever tried or the perfect wave, they are so lovely that in DN1 it is related that various practitioners mistook them for the goal of the holy life, indeed, warnings against subtle clinging to these divine pleasures can be fatle to the path.

However it is undeniable that the first buddhists where advocates and practitioners of aspects of life that bring the profoundest pleasure.

It is the correct understanding of this pleasure and the willingness to let go of it that is the first path to liberation described in the sekkha patipada.

Its actually very interesting how little is made of the fact that if we take DN1 at face value then both the abayakata and jhana are clearly described as pre-dating the buddha.


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This is decidedly not a position that Buddhadasa held. I don’t recall exactly where, but he addressed this idea directly in one of his writings.

One of the main thrusts of his work was to emphasize that enlightenment can happen in this very life. If human life or existence were inherently suffering, then enlightenment in this life would be impossible; the only way to cease dukkha would be to die. Such a view is unhelpful at least and conflicts with the presence of all the arahants in the suttas.

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Enjoy an existence with God. Believe it or not this is what the Buddha is trying to Teach you about. Otherwise what is the point of Enlightened, etc.?

I choose not to believe that, thank you. Can you provide any texts in EBT to support that claim?..

I mean, there is plenty of evidence that early buddhists thought that some in thier communities where reborn as shining gods as non returners who would “ascend” to "enlightenment " from there. For examples read say, MN?

What can be enjoyed?
The fruits of your good deeds (karma).

What should really be enjoyed?
Anything you found enjoyable in the noble eightfold path (e.g. the jhanas).