Dukha and Escape from It

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Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:19 pm

I had a long string of ideas of problems typed up, but realized that I think I have the root of the problem. I love Buddhism, and think it's great. But I think I am stuck on the idea of why I should be seeking escape from dukha in the ultimate sense of attaining Nibbana. I understand why I should be disenchanted with things like form, sensuality, feelings, etc. (pulling from the Maha-dukkhakkhandha Sutta here), but I don't think I understand why the Buddha's solution of escaping the cycle of samsara is necessary. I don't undersand what is inherently wrong with remaining in samsara. Yeah we're all going to age, get sick, and die, but so what? As long as we are not attached to youth, health, and life, what is the big deal?

Additionally, (and this will probably contradict what I said before about being disenchanted), what is wrong with neither seeking pleasure nor avoiding pain, while enjoying the pleasures that come your way (ie. time with friends, etc) and accepting pains dispassionately (time being over or friends dying)? Am I trying to have my cake and eat it too in a position that is unsustainable? I guess the question boils down to: is there a way to enjoy something dispassionately or is that an oxymoron? If there is a way, then it goes back to my original question of what is the point of escaping samsara? Thanks for any help you can provide! :)
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:30 pm

Yeah we're all going to age, get sick, and die, but so what? As long as we are not attached to youth, health, and life, what is the big deal?


No big deal at all, but most people who are old or sick or dying find that they are very much more attached to those things than they previously thought possible.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby santa100 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:24 pm

Obviously there's different perspective depends on whether one was born a prince in one of those oil-riched Saudis royal families and never have to worry about getting a job, paying rents, bills, and all kinds of debts,etc. as opposed to being born a girl in those war-torn and famine stricken African regions subjected to bodily mutilation, rape, hunger and diseases every day. Since the law of impermanence doesn't discriminate anyone, as long as one decides to stay in samsara and continue to generate a mix bag of wholesome/unwholesome kamma, one will continue to recycle thru the 6 realms of existence, sometimes as a deva king who rarely ever experiences any kind of suffering, and sometimes as a hell dweller who's subjected all kinds of unimaginable suffering. That, imho, is the inherent danger of samsara..
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby chownah » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:26 pm

As long as you can stay disenchanted and not clinging.......and you continue to learn more about how experience manifests it seems from what the Buddha taught that you are pretty much guaranteed to escape samsara sooner or later so no need to worry about it.

On the other hand didn't the Buddha say that we should practice as if our hair was on fire? Guess this means he is saying we should not be complacent.........I wonder if there is a way somewhere between these two.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:44 pm

chownah wrote:I wonder if there is a way somewhere between these two.
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Such as a lute string tuned neither too taught nor too slack?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:43 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Yeah we're all going to age, get sick, and die, but so what? As long as we are not attached to youth, health, and life, what is the big deal?


No big deal at all, but most people who are old or sick or dying find that they are very much more attached to those things than they previously thought possible.


Yeah, there certainly is a huge difference between saying it and understanding it. Hopefully when my time comes I will have developed the understanding that it is no big deal.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:48 pm

santa100 wrote:Obviously there's different perspective depends on whether one was born a prince in one of those oil-riched Saudis royal families and never have to worry about getting a job, paying rents, bills, and all kinds of debts,etc. as opposed to being born a girl in those war-torn and famine stricken African regions subjected to bodily mutilation, rape, hunger and diseases every day. Since the law of impermanence doesn't discriminate anyone, as long as one decides to stay in samsara and continue to generate a mix bag of wholesome/unwholesome kamma, one will continue to recycle thru the 6 realms of existence, sometimes as a deva king who rarely ever experiences any kind of suffering, and sometimes as a hell dweller who's subjected all kinds of unimaginable suffering. That, imho, is the inherent danger of samsara..


Interesting thought. I've heard that humans are fortunate to live in the one realm that has the best, balance I guess is the right word, of pleasure and pain so that they have the best chance of being able to follow the Dhamma. Whereas a being in the higher realm will have more pleasure than he knows what to do with and a being in the lower realm will have more pain than he knows what to do with such that they will almost inevitably become attached to and distracted by these things to follow the Dhamma, a human generally is neither as joyous nor as painful as these beings and so will have a higher likelihood of being able to follow the Dhamma. At least, that's what I think I remember reading either in a sutta or a book about Buddhism.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:00 pm

chownah wrote:As long as you can stay disenchanted and not clinging.......and you continue to learn more about how experience manifests it seems from what the Buddha taught that you are pretty much guaranteed to escape samsara sooner or later so no need to worry about it.


I'm fine with Nibbana being the inevitable end of the path, for being attached to either samsara or Nibbana seems wrong to me, but I guess I don't have the same sense of samvega that the Buddha had when he realized the inevitability of aging, sickness, and death. Perhaps I still find some meaning in life where he found none and would tell me to rid myself of through insight, and thus feel as I do. Because I suppose if I found no meaning in life, I would not find myself enjoying anything, even in a detached way. Additionally, I may be more affirmative in wanting to escape samsara.

I've heard that what we attach to at our deaths gives us a pretty big hint of what realm we will be reborn in, but I have no idea if this is even a Buddhist concept. For example, if you find yourself concerned about all the bad things you did in your life, then you probably will find yourself in Hell. Or if you wish you could have done more good, you may find yourself in a heavenly realm. But if you are attached to nothing, have no concerns about this life or the next, then you will have nowhere to call home, and thus will cease to rebirth in the same way that one who has zero attachments to a friend will not return to him.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby Justsit » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:02 pm

Have you ever experienced suffering (not pain, that is only one aspect of suffering)? How would you describe it?
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:56 pm

Justsit wrote:Have you ever experienced suffering (not pain, that is only one aspect of suffering)? How would you describe it?


Undesirable would probably be the best description. Whether it's the presence of pain (as you said not the pain itself), the additional suffering from addressing the pain in a heedless way (ie. that extra itchiness after scratching a mosquito bite), the unfulfilled expectation of something pleasurable, or the taking away of something pleasurable among other experiences, the best word I can think of is undesirable. Hope that answers your question.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby Justsit » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:03 pm

How about grief? Deep loss? Betrayal? Not talking mosquito bites.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby dagon » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:29 pm

One of the problems with life is that towards the end all that was “good and pleasurable” in life comes back as a source of grief. Usually the more you have had the more you grieve.

Lets say you have had a particular pleasurable experience early in life you will spend most of you life trying to recapture that moment and then grieve for it all over again when you realize that life has past you by and you will never live that moment again. There is a saying in the east that “real pleasure is the absence of pain”

metta
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:51 am

Justsit wrote:How about grief? Deep loss? Betrayal? Not talking mosquito bites.


About the worse is loss of a friend due to an 18-wheeler accident, but I was not particularly grieved by the incident. I thought I would be and was a little confused why I wasn't, but no, I have not felt grief or deep loss.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:53 am

dagon wrote:One of the problems with life is that towards the end all that was “good and pleasurable” in life comes back as a source of grief. Usually the more you have had the more you grieve.

Lets say you have had a particular pleasurable experience early in life you will spend most of you life trying to recapture that moment and then grieve for it all over again when you realize that life has past you by and you will never live that moment again. There is a saying in the east that “real pleasure is the absence of pain”

metta
paul


Hmmm interesting. The cliche at least is that your life flashes before your eyes and all that jazz, so it would be very conceivable that some pleasures may reap bad kamma at the time of death in the form of this kind of regret.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby Justsit » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:11 am

There is a difference between knowing about something and knowing it. A teacher once described it like this: A scientist can know all about a tarantula, it's classification, physiology, habits, etc. But the person who awakens to find a tarantula crawling up her arm knows "tarantula."
So, right now it sounds like you know about suffering, and find it merely undesirable, no big deal. Perhaps your understanding of the truly terrible nature of samsara will change when you have experienced it more thoroughly.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby chownah » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:57 am

HumbleThinker,
I thought this goes well with your original post:
AN10.91
These, householder, are the ten kinds of persons who enjoy sensual pleasures found existing in the world. Of these ten, the foremost, the best, the preeminent, the supreme, and the finest is the one enjoying sensual pleasures who seeks wealth righteously, without violence, and having obtained it, makes himself happy and pleased; and shares the wealth and does meritorious deeds; and uses that wealth without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby dagon » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:43 am

HumbleThinker wrote:
dagon wrote:One of the problems with life is that towards the end all that was “good and pleasurable” in life comes back as a source of grief. Usually the more you have had the more you grieve.

Lets say you have had a particular pleasurable experience early in life you will spend most of you life trying to recapture that moment and then grieve for it all over again when you realize that life has past you by and you will never live that moment again. There is a saying in the east that “real pleasure is the absence of pain”

metta
paul


Hmmm interesting. The cliche at least is that your life flashes before your eyes and all that jazz, so it would be very conceivable that some pleasures may reap bad kamma at the time of death in the form of this kind of regret.



Most people do not have a quick death (personally I would think that would be good karma). There is death and there is dying; death is merely the end point of the process of dying. The dying process (which can take many years) is where most have an “opportunity” to see their lives according to their intelligence, spiritually and morality. Not knowing what happens at the very point of death and beyond that apart from rebirth – I still think that death constitutes a release from the experiences (but not karma) of this life. At the time of death you see a change in the face where the indicate suffer ceases; but the ageing and suffering of dying remains etched in the face. The point is that death is cessation of a phoneme we call life rather that “an event” in its self.

Where there is real suffering is in the dying process; a process that is both physical and mental. In most cases it is relatively easy to manage physical pain, but the mental and emotional torment is harder for the person or others to manage. If you think of what has brought you joy and happiness throughout your life and reflect on what it would mean to you never to experience that again you can start to experience grief. We all experience grief at some level through our lives but in the dying process it is more profound, more real and impossible to escape.

During the dying process most experience regret for things they have done or not done, but unlike our situation there is no real future to change anything. Dying as the ending of life causes people to reflect on the past – most of us know from our practice that this is a source of suffering and stress. The dying also reflect on the future and in particular the sadness that those they love will suffer – they know this because of the suffering that they have personally experienced from similar events.

Death and dying cause every happiness in life to become an emotional negative unless you manage to live in the present; have metta, compassion, joy and equanimity. However to achieve that you will need to be very advanced in you practice and may not have a rebirth and life to “look forward’ to.

One of the problems we face is that we have a belief that happiness is something to be chased. For us in this body, with this mind happiness is associated with activity – the joy experienced in mediation is the closest that we get to experiencing passive happiness. Anything that requires activity whether be that of the mind or the body requires energy/effort; and effort pushes against something else – which at the same time is pushing against you. This is why there is always change in our lives and changes cause suffering. So I return to my statement that real happiness is the absence of pain, suffering or stress.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby pegembara » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:05 am

If one is truly freed from dukkha, there is no need to escape. Without craving there is no dukkha. All that is needed is to be absolutely sure that craving is permanently uprooted.



"Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha."

— SN 56.11

"Monks, any desire & passion with regard to craving for forms is a defilement of the mind. Any desire & passion with regard to craving for sounds... craving for aromas... craving for flavors... craving for tactile sensations... craving for ideas is a defilement of the mind. When, with regard to these six bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the direct knowing of those qualities worth realizing."

— SN 27.8
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby HumbleThinker » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:06 pm

Justsit wrote:There is a difference between knowing about something and knowing it. A teacher once described it like this: A scientist can know all about a tarantula, it's classification, physiology, habits, etc. But the person who awakens to find a tarantula crawling up her arm knows "tarantula."
So, right now it sounds like you know about suffering, and find it merely undesirable, no big deal. Perhaps your understanding of the truly terrible nature of samsara will change when you have experienced it more thoroughly.


Indeed. When I was reading the introduction to a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, it was put something like this: you can know that fire is hot, but you will never understand that it is hot unless it burns you. Experience is more informative than bare knowledge in this respect.
"I know that I know nothing" -Socrates

IOW, take what I say with a grain of salt, for I likely know as little or less than you do.
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Re: Dukha and Escape from It

Postby sphairos » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:14 pm

Nibbana is complete disenchantment. Until you realize Nibbana, you will suffer. "Theravada" and Nibbana are for those who seek Ultimate Peace (of course Ultimate Peace for everyone and everything - you can't reach it "for yourself")
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