Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

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zan
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:48 am

cappuccino wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:41 am
you need a , somewhere
I believe you'll reach an amazing height some day friend. You will see through this illusory self. I hope you believe that too :)
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:50 am

Greetings,
zan wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:44 am
Is it as direct about the Buddha as the many firm statements that seem to clearly state that The Buddha had no desire whatsoever? Like does it specify that the Buddha specifically had skillful desire. If so, are there any suttas that clarify how he both had desire but also was detached and disengaged from the whole world?
The gist of it was that you can have a desire to do something which isn't rooted in the unwholesome.

The lesson in a sense, is to be careful what you lump under the banner of "desire" (whether in English, or its Pali equivalents). As a word and as a concept, it has different shades of meaning - some aspects of which are relevant to an arahant, some not.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

zan
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:53 am

Polar Bear wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:33 am
zan wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:28 pm

How do the suttas reconcile this with the above statements?
I’m not aware that they do. There are similar things too, like some suttas where the Buddha says he delights in seclusion and others where he says you shouldn’t delight in anything. I just chalk it up to language being a bit messy and that it’s okay to be a little loosely goosey when describing psychological states.
Hmm. I am not sure the firm, very specific, massive and grand statements about the Buddha's perfection can be swept aside as messy language because they are challenged by less specific statements that imply otherwise.

Might there be another way to interpret it?

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:58 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:50 am
Greetings,
zan wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:44 am
Is it as direct about the Buddha as the many firm statements that seem to clearly state that The Buddha had no desire whatsoever? Like does it specify that the Buddha specifically had skillful desire. If so, are there any suttas that clarify how he both had desire but also was detached and disengaged from the whole world?
The gist of it was that you can have a desire to do something which isn't rooted in the unwholesome.

The lesson in a sense, is to be careful what you lump under the banner of "desire" (whether in English, or its Pali equivalents). As a word and as a concept, it has different shades of meaning - some aspects of which are relevant to an arahant, some not.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Indeed. Thank you. I have read about this idea and was leaning toward it as an understanding until Sam Vera was kind enough to post the sutta with the much bigger statement about being detached and disengaged. This made me vaguely recall many other statements that use several different pali words to make it clear that the Buddha had no faults such as desire or aversion at all.

The use of different words makes the issue of defining chanda irrelevant since the canon uses several different words to state similar ideas. Again, though, I lack the knowledge of the specifics :/

Hopefully someone else will come along and post them or their counters, ideally both :)
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

zan
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:02 pm

Other than the desire to extinguish all desire, which has an end which ends itself and all desire, it would seem that all desire must necessarily lead to suffering. Isn't this a core teaching of Buddhism? Otherwise worldlings will be desiring to reach elightenment so they can continue desiring other things.

Even if we say that this is skillful desire being used to get to the state where unwholesome desire ceases, and only skillful desire remains, isn't this the argument of the Brahmin Unnabha in SN 51.15 in which desire would be endless? Ananda seems to tell him that this is incorrect and that even this skillful desire will cease upon fulfillment of the path.

I think there are several suttas that make firm, blanket statements about desire ceasing for an arahant (or other things that imply this) and that they use different words to denote desire and so it is difficult to avoid the notion that all desire must cease.

However I do not know of suttas that so firmly, and in such all encompassing language, state that arahants maintain desire.

We have things like "disengaged from the whole world"

But I do not know of anything like "Arahants have desire to help the whole world." Or "The Buddha has aversion toward seeing others suffer for the whole world."

In fact, does not desire, even skillful desire, necessarily include aversion? Desire may even be a subtle form of aversion. If there were no aversion, why would there be desire? I doubt anyone could name anything that could be desired that is not the result of, or connected to aversion.

We desire food due to aversion to hunger or starvation. Or one may say a teacher desires food so that they can live to teach, but now we have aversion towards death or toward people not being taught. We desire the path due to aversion to suffering. We desire shelter due to aversion to death by weather. And so on and so on.

So unless we are seriously going to say that the path does not lead to freedom from aversion, which is obviously a form of suffering, I think we have to say that Buddhas and arahants are totally free from desire and that they eat and teach because this is their function and for no other reason. Perhaps their final playing out of the kamma that propelled them to Buddhahood in the first place is what we see, and is unconnected to all forms of desire?

Again though, and as always, I am not an expert and if the suttas do clearly state, in no uncertain terms, specifically that Buddhas and arahants have desire then I will happily retract my above assumptions as they are obviously wrong!

If this is the case, which I doubt, then there must naturally be suttas that explain why I am wrong and give reasons that a being could have desire and not suffer and how aversion is not suffering or is somehow separate from desire. However as of now, I cannot think of any way that this is possible, but I am totally accepting of the idea that I am wrong because of course the suttas are the suttas!
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by chownah » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:36 pm

zan wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:02 pm
We have things like "disengaged from the whole world"
Here is what is meant by "the world" with respect to the dhamma:
SN 35.82
Loka Sutta: The World
In its entirety:
Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world'[1] it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates,[2] monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"The ear disintegrates. Sounds disintegrate...

"The nose disintegrates. Aromas disintegrate...

"The tongue disintegrates. Tastes disintegrate...

"The body disintegrates. Tactile sensations disintegrate...

"The intellect disintegrates. Ideas disintegrate. Consciousness at the intellect consciousness disintegrates. Contact at the intellect disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"Insofar as it disintegrates, it is called the 'world.'"
....and another aspect of "the world":
SN 12.44
Loka Sutta: The World
In its entirety:
Dwelling at Savatthi. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: "I will teach you the origination of the world & the ending of the world. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world."
.....and yet another group of different viewpoints concerning how "the world" is viewed through the dhamma:
Dhp XIII
Lokavagga: The World
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... tml#fnt-15
I won't quote any from this since I think my post is already overly long....but it contains several very short ideas listed one after the other each with a different way of viewing some aspect of "the world".

Perhaps you are familiar with these already but I think that there may be some reader here who are not familiar with how the dhammic idea about "the world" is quite different from what many worldly people think about "the world".
chownah

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:07 pm

.
Last edited by zan on Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:54 pm

Here is something to consider:

1. Not getting what one wants is suffering. Not everything wanted for can be gotten immediately or at all.
2. Buddha's do not suffer.
3. Therefore, Buddha's do not want.
MN 141:

"Jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, maraṇampi dukkhaṃ, sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsāpi dukkhā, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ; saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.

"Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful."
I don't see any logical reason to assert that this is incorrect and that the path that is supposed to end suffering does not end something that is defined as suffering: wanting (also translated as desire and other words.)?

If we say that the Buddha and arahants have desires/wants/wishes etc. then they are suffering beings according to the definition of suffering found in the suttas, because not everything that is wanted is always immediately available. For example if a Buddha wants/wishes/desires for food and none is available then he, by definition, is suffering and Buddha's have gone beyond all suffering.

One could use some slippery logic and say that a Buddha or arahant never wants anything that is not available. However I do not know that this is supported by the suttas. For example when the Buddha was searching for Uddaka Ramaputta. If we say that he wanted to find him and then found out that he was dead, then we have to say that the Buddha suffered because he did not get what he wanted, which is obviously incorrect because this was after his enlightenment and so he was beyond all suffering. And so we must say that he felt no wanting but was looking for Uddakka Ramaputta for some other reason.

What is that reason? I do not know that there is a clear answer but it cannot be any kind of desire/wanting/wishing/grasping or anything like that. As I have posited earlier it may be that it is the playing out of the Buddha's past kamma as opposed to present wants and desires. Basically he was fulfilling the natural role and function of a Buddha.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by chownah » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:23 am

Maybe it is that the buddha acts out of compassion but does not want (is not attached) to the outcome of his actions.
chownah

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:28 pm

chownah wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:23 am
Maybe it is that the buddha acts out of compassion but does not want (is not attached) to the outcome of his actions.
chownah
Something akin to this perhaps. However compassion is generally used in relation to desire for others to be happy and aversion toward seeing them suffer, and empathy. In fact, in the sutta mentioned below, aversion toward teaching slow to understand people is countered by compassion.

Perhaps the issue of desire could be put aside for a moment and we could discuss aversion?

My assertion is that the Buddha had neither desire nor aversion of any kind. Some on this thread have posited that he did have desire. None have said he had aversion. So the argument may be that he had wholesome desires only but did not suffer because he had no aversions and was not connected to his desires.

However I think that we must say that he did not have desire at all because there are points in the suttas where it sounds like he is having aversion. One in particular, right after his enlightenment, reads:
"...And if I taught the Dhamma others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me."
- MN 85
In the same sutta, after Brahma Sahampatti coaxed the Buddha into agreeing to teach, the Buddha is recorded as saying:
"Out of compassion for beings he surveyed the world... When he had seen this, he replied:

...If I was minded
To tell not the sublime Dhamma I know,
It was that I saw vexation in the telling."
Now, since it is clear that this and similar passages could be interpreted as aversion, and other passages could be interpreted as desire, and since this throws out compassion as some special desire not connected to aversion as well, there would be a Buddha with both desire and aversion! This is clearly impossible and I think the only way to avoid this trap is to say that he had neither desire or aversion of any kind and, again, that these apparent desires and aversions were just the playing out of the role of the Buddha, the last kammas of the best of beings playing out before Nibbana and nothing more.

I do not see how the suttas could possibly present both that desire and aversion are the very definitions of suffering and also present a Buddha that both desires and feels aversion. This would be totally illogical.

So we have the choice of how we interpret either the definitions of suffering, or the Buddha's motivations.

The suttas are not ambiguous about defining suffering at all. Suffering is stated flatly, with several different words and phrasings, to be directly connected to desire and aversion.

They are, however, ambiguous about clearly explaining the Buddha's motivations. So it is much safer to interpret the Buddha's motivations in a way that skirts this issue by saying he had neither desire nor aversion than it is to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer, because, to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer would require reinterpreting the definition of suffering. This would require considering different meanings of the Four Noble Truths and many other core Buddhist concepts!

Simply interpreting the Buddha's motivations in a way that avoids attributing the Perfect One with desire and aversion does not require reinterpretation of anything else, let alone any core Buddhist concepts as important as the Four Noble Truths.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by budo » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:10 pm

zan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:28 pm
chownah wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:23 am
Maybe it is that the buddha acts out of compassion but does not want (is not attached) to the outcome of his actions.
chownah
Something akin to this perhaps. However compassion is generally used in relation to desire for others to be happy and aversion toward seeing them suffer, and empathy. In fact, in the sutta mentioned below, aversion toward teaching slow to understand people is countered by compassion.

Perhaps the issue of desire could be put aside for a moment and we could discuss aversion?

My assertion is that the Buddha had neither desire nor aversion of any kind. Some on this thread have posited that he did have desire. None have said he had aversion. So the argument may be that he had wholesome desires only but did not suffer because he had no aversions and was not connected to his desires.

However I think that we must say that he did not have desire at all because there are points in the suttas where it sounds like he is having aversion. One in particular, right after his enlightenment, reads:
"...And if I taught the Dhamma others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me."
- MN 85
In the same sutta, after Brahma Sahampatti coaxed the Buddha into agreeing to teach, the Buddha is recorded as saying:
"Out of compassion for beings he surveyed the world... When he had seen this, he replied:

...If I was minded
To tell not the sublime Dhamma I know,
It was that I saw vexation in the telling."
Now, since it is clear that this and similar passages could be interpreted as aversion, and other passages could be interpreted as desire, and since this throws out compassion as some special desire not connected to aversion as well, there would be a Buddha with both desire and aversion! This is clearly impossible and I think the only way to avoid this trap is to say that he had neither desire or aversion of any kind and, again, that these apparent desires and aversions were just the playing out of the role of the Buddha, the last kammas of the best of beings playing out before Nibbana and nothing more.

I do not see how the suttas could possibly present both that desire and aversion are the very definitions of suffering and also present a Buddha that both desires and feels aversion. This would be totally illogical.

So we have the choice of how we interpret either the definitions of suffering, or the Buddha's motivations.

The suttas are not ambiguous about defining suffering at all. Suffering is stated flatly, with several different words and phrasings, to be directly connected to desire and aversion.

They are, however, ambiguous about clearly explaining the Buddha's motivations. So it is much safer to interpret the Buddha's motivations in a way that skirts this issue by saying he had neither desire nor aversion than it is to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer, because, to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer would require reinterpreting the definition of suffering. This would require considering different meanings of the Four Noble Truths and many other core Buddhist concepts!

Simply interpreting the Buddha's motivations in a way that avoids attributing the Perfect One with desire and aversion does not require reinterpretation of anything else, let alone any core Buddhist concepts as important as the Four Noble Truths.
He said "vexation in the telling", based on that translation, it means the possibility for stress/pain to arise in trying to teach the dhamma.

The Buddha doesn't suffer not because he is immune to suffering like superman bouncing bullets off his chest, but because he chooses not to suffer i.e. not standing in areas where people shoot bullets. In this case he is saying he is willing to choose the potential of suffering if it means teaching the dhamma, as cost of compassion to save the world. In other words, he made a judgement call that he's willing to accept some vexation if it means spreading the dhamma, thus it is worth the cost of a potential vexation.

If you think about it, you suffer because you choose to. If you wanted to you could stop suffering right now, you just need to renounce the world, desires, and your life. Most people aren't willing to take that risk, until they reach a certain stage and that's like in the gradual training where the cliff in the ocean drops off.

So it seems like it's a matter of being a pacceka Buddha vs a Samma Sambuddha. I would imagine a pacceka Buddha or an Arahant would just disappear and not seek to be known by others, as helping people requires a lot of energy and effort and that is exhausting.

Remember though, it is your intentions -> thoughts -> actions -> habits that cause suffering, which is the product of desire and aversion. So if you're in complete control and mastery of your mind and your intentions, then of course someone like the Buddha does not "HAVE" desire or aversion, but he can still make logical and rational judgement calls on how to best spend his time on this planet.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:11 pm

budo wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:10 pm
zan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:28 pm
chownah wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:23 am
Maybe it is that the buddha acts out of compassion but does not want (is not attached) to the outcome of his actions.
chownah
Something akin to this perhaps. However compassion is generally used in relation to desire for others to be happy and aversion toward seeing them suffer, and empathy. In fact, in the sutta mentioned below, aversion toward teaching slow to understand people is countered by compassion.

Perhaps the issue of desire could be put aside for a moment and we could discuss aversion?

My assertion is that the Buddha had neither desire nor aversion of any kind. Some on this thread have posited that he did have desire. None have said he had aversion. So the argument may be that he had wholesome desires only but did not suffer because he had no aversions and was not connected to his desires.

However I think that we must say that he did not have desire at all because there are points in the suttas where it sounds like he is having aversion. One in particular, right after his enlightenment, reads:
"...And if I taught the Dhamma others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me."
- MN 85
In the same sutta, after Brahma Sahampatti coaxed the Buddha into agreeing to teach, the Buddha is recorded as saying:
"Out of compassion for beings he surveyed the world... When he had seen this, he replied:

...If I was minded
To tell not the sublime Dhamma I know,
It was that I saw vexation in the telling."
Now, since it is clear that this and similar passages could be interpreted as aversion, and other passages could be interpreted as desire, and since this throws out compassion as some special desire not connected to aversion as well, there would be a Buddha with both desire and aversion! This is clearly impossible and I think the only way to avoid this trap is to say that he had neither desire or aversion of any kind and, again, that these apparent desires and aversions were just the playing out of the role of the Buddha, the last kammas of the best of beings playing out before Nibbana and nothing more.

I do not see how the suttas could possibly present both that desire and aversion are the very definitions of suffering and also present a Buddha that both desires and feels aversion. This would be totally illogical.

So we have the choice of how we interpret either the definitions of suffering, or the Buddha's motivations.

The suttas are not ambiguous about defining suffering at all. Suffering is stated flatly, with several different words and phrasings, to be directly connected to desire and aversion.

They are, however, ambiguous about clearly explaining the Buddha's motivations. So it is much safer to interpret the Buddha's motivations in a way that skirts this issue by saying he had neither desire nor aversion than it is to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer, because, to say that he had desire and aversion but did not suffer would require reinterpreting the definition of suffering. This would require considering different meanings of the Four Noble Truths and many other core Buddhist concepts!

Simply interpreting the Buddha's motivations in a way that avoids attributing the Perfect One with desire and aversion does not require reinterpretation of anything else, let alone any core Buddhist concepts as important as the Four Noble Truths.
He said "vexation in the telling", based on that translation, it means the possibility for stress/pain to arise in trying to teach the dhamma.

The Buddha doesn't suffer not because he is immune to suffering like superman bouncing bullets off his chest, but because he chooses not to suffer i.e. not standing in areas where people shoot bullets. In this case he is saying he is willing to choose the potential of suffering if it means teaching the dhamma, as cost of compassion to save the world. In other words, he made a judgement call that he's willing to accept some vexation if it means spreading the dhamma, thus it is worth the cost of a potential vexation.

If you think about it, you suffer because you choose to. If you wanted to you could stop suffering right now, you just need to renounce the world, desires, and your life. Most people aren't willing to take that risk, until they reach a certain stage and that's like in the gradual training where the cliff in the ocean drops off.

So it seems like it's a matter of being a pacceka Buddha vs a Samma Sambuddha. I would imagine a pacceka Buddha or an Arahant would just disappear and not seek to be known by others, as helping people requires a lot of energy and effort and that is exhausting.

Remember though, it is your intentions -> thoughts -> actions -> habits that cause suffering, which is the product of desire and aversion. So if you're in complete control and mastery of your mind and your intentions, then of course someone like the Buddha does not "HAVE" desire or aversion, but he can still make logical and rational judgement calls on how to best spend his time on this planet.
Without getting into the bottemless pit of semantics I think most agree that someone who has zero desires or aversions cannot be defined as suffering.

Someone who has any desires or aversions has weak spots, so to speak. The Buddha had no weak spots. There is nothing anyone could have done that would have made him suffer.

Without going into Pali translations and semantics, how can we explain the Buddha?

For example if there was a teacher who said he would go beyond all suffering by extinguishing all desire and aversion and taught others his path and then, after reaching this cessation of desire and aversion, he just sat there until he died, there would be nothing to discuss at all.

But with the Buddha he extinguished all desire and aversion and went on to eat, drink, sleep, presumably avoid unnecessary painful situations (he didn't lie in the sun until he was blistered and near death, for example), teach others, invent rules, etc.

So, without using textual gymnastics and picking on which Pali words mean what, defining desire, chanda, wishing, lobha, and on and on, and using nuanced understanding of ancient and modern language, how do we understand how he was beyond all desire and aversion and also did the above and other things? He was a perfect being, and so there must be an answer.

When I talk about avoiding semantics, etc. I am speaking of avoiding picking apart simple ideas like suffering being caused by desire for example. This idea is obviously true. A desireless being could not suffer. So to pick it apart is to damage the statement and make it debatable. It is easy to find ways that someone with desires could suffer but impossible to do so with someone who is desireless.

That said, if there is some sutta that explains these things flatly and clearly, I am all ears! But I think using semantics to make the Four Noble Truths a somewhat ambiguous statement that needs interpretation and deep knowledge of several languages is unwise.

I believe they were perfectly formulated as up front, flat statements that require almost zero interpretation or deep knowledge of anything. Which is why they are so effective.

If they were written with all the detail and specifics about defining Pali words and clearly weren't talking about ALL desire but just special types of desire and so on I doubt they would have the same effect. They would confuse most people and deeper thinking people would scratch their chins and immediately start to question whether they were correct or not.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:48 pm

zan wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:11 pm
But with the Buddha he extinguished all desire and aversion and went on to eat, drink, sleep, presumably avoid unnecessary painful situations (he didn't lie in the sun until he was blistered and near death, for example), teach others, invent rules, etc.

So, without using textual gymnastics and picking on which Pali words mean what, defining desire, chanda, wishing, lobha, and on and on, and using nuanced understanding of ancient and modern language, how do we understand how he was beyond all desire and aversion and also did the above and other things?
We don't. We cannot understand it if we've resolved in advance that we're not going to follow the Buddha's own example by being vibhajjavādins, that is, "makers of distinctions". The distinction between the afflictive kind of desire that is eliminated by arahantship and the non-afflictive kind that is not, is essential to understanding how one can be a Buddha or an Arahant and still be capable of purposive action.

If someone were to say: “Without allowing ourselves to be diverted by any talk about racquets, balls and nets; baselines, sidelines and service lines; the rules of play and the scoring system, let’s instead focus on the central question: What exactly is tennis?” then he would be making his question unanswerable by his dismissal of the very things that we need to talk about if we are to explain what sort of a thing tennis is.

This is exactly what you are doing with your dismissal of what you call: "textual gymnastics and picking on which Pali words mean what, defining desire, chanda, wishing, lobha, and on and on, and using nuanced understanding of ancient and modern language..."

zan
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by zan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:29 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:48 pm
zan wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:11 pm
But with the Buddha he extinguished all desire and aversion and went on to eat, drink, sleep, presumably avoid unnecessary painful situations (he didn't lie in the sun until he was blistered and near death, for example), teach others, invent rules, etc.

So, without using textual gymnastics and picking on which Pali words mean what, defining desire, chanda, wishing, lobha, and on and on, and using nuanced understanding of ancient and modern language, how do we understand how he was beyond all desire and aversion and also did the above and other things?
We don't. We cannot understand it if we've resolved in advance that we're not going to follow the Buddha's own example by being vibhajjavādins, that is, "makers of distinctions". The distinction between the afflictive kind of desire that is eliminated by arahantship and the non-afflictive kind that is not, is essential to understanding how one can be a Buddha or an Arahant and still be capable of purposive action.

If someone were to say: “Without allowing ourselves to be diverted by any talk about racquets, balls and nets; baselines, sidelines and service lines; the rules of play and the scoring system, let’s instead focus on the central question: What exactly is tennis?” then he would be making his question unanswerable by his dismissal of the very things that we need to talk about if we are to explain what sort of a thing tennis is.

This is exactly what you are doing with your dismissal of what you call: "textual gymnastics and picking on which Pali words mean what, defining desire, chanda, wishing, lobha, and on and on, and using nuanced understanding of ancient and modern language..."
Thank you Venerable. I hold your answers in the highest esteem and I would really appreciate it if you could give me your answer to the question, ignoring any parameters that make it unanswerable.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Did the Buddha ever state flatly...

Post by Dhammanando » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:10 am

zan wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:29 pm

[...]
What we call ‘desire’ in English corresponds to so many different things in Pali that any statement to the effect that “the arahant has ended desire” cannot be accepted without considerable qualification. The things corresponding to ‘desire’ in the Buddha’s teaching can be broadly divided into three classes: firstly, those which are eradicated in an arahant; secondly those which are left wholly intact (and in certain arahants may even be increased); and thirdly, those which have become attenuated and modified. Examples:

Eradicated desires
Three kinds of craving (taṇhā): for sense-pleasure, being and non-being.
Four kinds of grasping: for sense-pleasure, view, habitual and vowed observances, and self-doctrines.
The unwholesome root of lust/attachment (lobha/rāga akusalamūla).
The sensuality and being inflows (kāmāsava, bhavāsava).

Intact desires
Desiring the welfare and happiness of all beings (mettā).
Desiring that suffering being be free from suffering (karuṇā).
Desiring that successful and happy beings continue in their success and happiness (muditā).

Attenuated and modified desires
Desire-to-act (chanda).
Deciding/resolving upon (adhimokkha).
Volition/intention (cetanā).

These are attenuated in the sense that they no longer aim at anything unskilful. They are modified in the sense that actions proceeding from them are non-kamma-generating for an arahant.

As for aversion and fear, these are entirely eradicated in an arahant. But their absence does not prevent the arahant from acting in certain prudent ways that in a non-arahant would typically be prompted by aversion or fear. For example, when the needle-haired yakkha leaned his body towards the Buddha, the Buddha leaned away to avoid getting pricked.

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