Suffering as a gateway to the truth

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Bundokji wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:55 am ...
...
A well known example ... Even the truth of the ubiquitous maxim "Everything is impermanent" cannot be carelessly generalizable onto the world of conventional realities nor to the world of comprehensive ultimate realities.
As far as i know, the Buddha did not teach "everything is impermanent" but taught "all conditioned things are impermanent". Not very surprising omission by someone who denies the existence of "the truth".





umm, I didn't mention Buddha said so-and-so.





Please let me see a good single absolute statement about "the truth" [without any qualifiers/qualifications] which could not be rendered untrue when viewing from specific perspectives. [if there is such thing as "the truth"]

Here is some [bad] examples:
  • 1+1=2
    • (which can also be 10 or 1 or others depending on context).
  • the earth is round
    • when the ancients said "the earth is flat", they were not lying, they were just stating "the truth" for them.




To recap:
  • There is no such thing as "the truth".
  • There are only contextual truths.



Thanks in advance. I'll come back here next week, if dhammas allow me.


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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:49 am Please let me see a good single absolute statement about "the truth" [without any qualifiers/qualifications] which could not be rendered untrue when viewing from specific perspectives. [if there is such thing as "the truth"]

Here is some [bad] examples:
  • 1+1=2
    • (which can also be 10 or 1 or others depending on context).
  • the earth is round
    • when the ancients said "the earth is flat", they were not lying, they were just stating "the truth" for them.

To recap:
  • There is no such thing as "the truth".
  • There are only contextual truths.
Thanks in advance. I'll come back here next week, if dhammas allow me.


.
Is your statement "There are only contextual truths" context sensitive?

If it is context sensitive, then it is self contradictory and meaningless. If it is not context sensitive, then it can be described as "the truth".
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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Jeff_
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Jeff_ »

Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:05 pm Is there a Buddhist answer as to why and how suffering is the necessary or most effective entry point to the ultimate truth?
As for the how, the Upanisa Sutta (Prerequisites - SN 12:23) might be helpful. The Buddha lists suffering/stress as the prerequisite for conviction.

Conviction is in turn the prerequisite for joy, joy for rapture, rapture for calm, calm for pleasure, pleasure for concentration, concentration for knowledge and vision of things as they have come to be, knowledge and vision of things as they have come to be for disenchantment, disenchantment for dispassion, dispassion for release, release for knowledge of ending. Knowledge of ending is what I think you mean by ultimate truth. At least, it is as far as the Buddha's analysis goes.

The Avijjā Sutta (Ignorance - AN 10:61) might also be helpful, since there the nutriment for conviction is hearing the true Dhamma. From this, perhaps, the teachings on stress and the true Dhamma can be seen as inseparable. (Although, since the nutriment for hearing the true Dhamma is association with people of integrity, it might be said the the Buddha isn't really starting with suffering, but with picking good friends. I know he made that point in an exchange with Ānanda -- something like, Ānanda says associating with good friends is half the holy life, and the Buddha corrects him to say it's the whole of the holy life, because he, the Buddha, is the original good friend -- but I don't have the citation.)

As for the why, this is a trickier question. Perhaps because it mirrors the Buddha's own experience, where his encounters with aging, illness, and death gave rise to terror/chastened dispassion/urgency, while his encounter with a forest mendicant gave rise to clarity/confidence? I don't know.

The way I like to look at it is, the Buddha took stuff that no one wanted, the suffering and stress that ordinary people either seek to avoid through sense pleasure or seek to end through piling on more pain, and he put that stuff to good use. He did it by continually "trading up" pleasures until there was nothing higher, and he knew for sure there was nothing higher. In other words, he looked for the downside, the stress, of even really skillful states, and in that way put stress to work for him, instead of being a slave to it.

That said, I think a case can be made that the entry point to ultimate truth isn't suffering, but generosity. This is why giving the Dhamma freely is so, so important.
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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji »

Jeff_ wrote: Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:05 am The way I like to look at it is, the Buddha took stuff that no one wanted, the suffering and stress that ordinary people either seek to avoid through sense pleasure or seek to end through piling on more pain, and he put that stuff to good use. He did it by continually "trading up" pleasures until there was nothing higher, and he knew for sure there was nothing higher. In other words, he looked for the downside, the stress, of even really skillful states, and in that way put stress to work for him, instead of being a slave to it.

That said, I think a case can be made that the entry point to ultimate truth isn't suffering, but generosity. This is why giving the Dhamma freely is so, so important.
It is exactly what you just stated that the Buddha took stuff that no one wanted. And its not easy to answer which is more strange: the vast majority of people who don't take their existence/suffering very seriously or the minority who dedicate their lives to find an answer? Each group seem to have their own reasons: the first group (the majority) find the search for certainty as futile because they still can continue to live without knowing. The second group (the minority) focus on the centrality of existence, and therefore, everything becomes futile for them without an answer.

Thank you for your generosity :anjali:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
chownah
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by chownah »

I think that the vast majority of buddhists are not practicing just for the end of suffering....I think that the vast majority also have an ulterior motive.....and for many it is learning some "higher truth". I have no problem with this but I do think that they should realise that these ulterior motives are not what the buddha was teaching.....at least if we go by what the suttas say i.e. all that he taught was the end of suffering/stress and finding that end was the motive he stated when he left his family and went into homelessness in the very beginning of his quest.
chownah
binocular
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote: Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:37 pm I think that the vast majority of buddhists are not practicing just for the end of suffering....I think that the vast majority also have an ulterior motive.....and for many it is learning some "higher truth". I have no problem with this but I do think that they should realise that these ulterior motives are not what the buddha was teaching.....at least if we go by what the suttas say i.e. all that he taught was the end of suffering/stress and finding that end was the motive he stated when he left his family and went into homelessness in the very beginning of his quest.
That's just it -- "at least if we go by what the suttas say". Many, if not most Buddhists, don't care much about the Pali suttas.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji »

chownah wrote: Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:37 pm I think that the vast majority of buddhists are not practicing just for the end of suffering....I think that the vast majority also have an ulterior motive.....and for many it is learning some "higher truth". I have no problem with this but I do think that they should realise that these ulterior motives are not what the buddha was teaching.....at least if we go by what the suttas say i.e. all that he taught was the end of suffering/stress and finding that end was the motive he stated when he left his family and went into homelessness in the very beginning of his quest.
chownah
Dividing truths into conventional and ultimate implies that there are truths higher or more inclusive than others. The nature of the four noble truths as "truths" precedes their content which focuses on suffering and ending it. And you seem to be referring to your understanding/interpretations of the suttas as the suttas themselves. The suttas can be used to justify many things, hence the investigation of truth and evaluating different interpretations becomes necessary.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:38 pm
Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:14 pm
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:03 pm It is just a truth. It is not "the truth".
So, is it true sometimes and not true in other times?

If this is the case, ...
Nope, it is not the case.

It is about paradigms; I wish I really knew that word "paradigm". :smile:


Here is another version of my answer:
  • Yes, this is the case. And, "it" refers to "a" truth.

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chownah
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by chownah »

Bundokji wrote: Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:24 pm
chownah wrote: Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:37 pm I think that the vast majority of buddhists are not practicing just for the end of suffering....I think that the vast majority also have an ulterior motive.....and for many it is learning some "higher truth". I have no problem with this but I do think that they should realise that these ulterior motives are not what the buddha was teaching.....at least if we go by what the suttas say i.e. all that he taught was the end of suffering/stress and finding that end was the motive he stated when he left his family and went into homelessness in the very beginning of his quest.
chownah
Dividing truths into conventional and ultimate implies that there are truths higher or more inclusive than others. The nature of the four noble truths as "truths" precedes their content which focuses on suffering and ending it. And you seem to be referring to your understanding/interpretations of the suttas as the suttas themselves. The suttas can be used to justify many things, hence the investigation of truth and evaluating different interpretations becomes necessary.
This is your view....I guess you have to do whatever you think is necessary based on your evaluation of different interpretations of your experience.
chownah
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