Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

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manas
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Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by manas » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:11 pm

Whatever method we choose, it seems that craving will put up a fight, should we decide to make an honest attempt to be rid of it. I recall a quote (from Ajahn Chah?), the meaning being, that the Path involves suffering, but it leads to the ending of all suffering. That always put me off before, but now I'm beginning to accept that, perhaps the only way to get past the fire, is to deliberately, consciously walk through it?

I'm not suggesting any of us need to rush off and ordain to do this. I used to believe that, that if someone is really sincere, that's what they would do. But for various reasons, health or otherwise, not all of us can do this. But as for the Path, anyone, monastic or lay, can pursue it to the best of their ability, and at least be heading in the direction of freedom from this constant 'thirst'.

Looking at the mind's objections, the main one is the fear of 'missing out' on all those tasty sensual pleasures. Even as a layperson, we could practice more restraint. (well I know I certainly could). But are sensual pleasures really that good? Over and over again, we desire our favourite food, sexual pleasure, etc etc and while enjoying it, there's a feeling of satisfaction, and for a while afterwards...then, soon after, the desire returns again..."satisfy me again!" and so on and so on, never ceasing. Of course I've read about this many times, but lately, due to mindfulness, I'm beginning to notice the pattern more and more. Desire - Seeking - Enjoyment - Satiety - Desire - Enjoyment...etc etc ad infinitum. It never ceases! Sensual desires are never satisfied, they are never still, there is never any real PEACE when the mind is always inclining to the next pleasure, whatever that may be, there is this constant sense of lack, of wanting something.

I have pondered the attachment of sex pleasure. I don't know about you, but the amount of care and trouble involved in getting it, can seem a pain sometimes. All for something that is ongoing - you can't just have 'the best sex ever' and then feel satisfied with that; next time, you'll want either that again, or even better! It just never stops. It's kind of troublesome. Same with tasty food. That's never satisfied either! Hunger just keeps returning, again and again. I know it's Natural, but it's a bit of a PAIN, is it not? Just like sickness, ageing, death, and all those other Natural things.

HOWEVER...

When we try to renounce more, knowing it is good for us, cravings can seem to actually intensify at times. Then, it can feel as though we're being 'hard on ourselves', although I can recall Ajahn Chah saying that really, we're just being hard on the defilements. But is there any other way? Is striving for the ending of craving, inevitably going to involve a lot of suffering?

But then, after observing the craving- seeking -satiety - craving - etc etc pattern over many years, I'm beginning to wonder if craving is worth holding onto. I'm not asking so much for scriptural quotes, I want to know how other folks genuinely feel about this. Would you like to be free of tanha, this incessant 'thirst'? Also, would you agree, that the suffering involved in overcoming craving, might actually be worth the reward - I mean, I'm imagining, that if one no longer desired sensual pleasure, it would cease to be a problem from that moment on! If we didn't want something, we wouldn't feel bad not having it, we'd be at peace not having it.


I'm beginning to think, imagine not 'wanting' something all of the time...being at ease, at peace, in the here-and-now. I'm not thinking of what happens after death, I'm thinking about right now, in this present moment, to be free from this incessant wanting...Peace...Nibbana. I'm open to the notion, that some temporary pain & stress (that of practicing the Path more thoroughly) might be worth it, for the sake of the ending of all stress?
Last edited by manas on Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:24 pm

I'm beginning to think, imagine not 'wanting' something all of the time...being at ease, at peace, in the here-and-now. I'm not thinking of what happens after death, I'm thinking about right now, in this present moment, to be free from this incessant wanting...Peace...Nibbana. I'm open to the notion, that some temporary pain & stress (that of practicing the Path more thoroughly) might be worth it, for the sake of the ending of all stress, not in some future life, but in the here-and-now?
It appears that you have started developing your Sati.
Suffering lead to Saddha. (faith)
Once you have faith no more suffering needed as you are already in the path.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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manas
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by manas » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:43 pm

SarathW wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:24 pm
I'm beginning to think, imagine not 'wanting' something all of the time...being at ease, at peace, in the here-and-now. I'm not thinking of what happens after death, I'm thinking about right now, in this present moment, to be free from this incessant wanting...Peace...Nibbana. I'm open to the notion, that some temporary pain & stress (that of practicing the Path more thoroughly) might be worth it, for the sake of the ending of all stress, not in some future life, but in the here-and-now?
It appears that you have started developing your Sati.
Suffering lead to Saddha. (faith)
Once you have faith no more suffering needed as you are already in the path.
Well, it's a bit like 'watching oneself being stupid', but thanks, Sarath. I see myself doing the same things over and over, noticing patterns, basically. But I'm not sure about being on the Path as I still have some sceptical doubt, it seems, despite the Path being the best thing I've ever found, afaic. Still, that's not the same as being 100% convinced.

I'm wondering, have I suffered enough yet, to be getting weary of the treadmill of Samsara? Or do I require more crushing, grinding down, being built up then taken down, bleeding and crying tears enough to fill an Ocean? Is anyone here already weary?
Last edited by manas on Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by sunnat » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:45 pm

It's about becoming aware of the impermanent, ever changing not self nature and the suffering that goes with all the craving and thus letting go of it. In the process there is a level where the pleasant feelings become stronger and it's easy to wallow there and lose sight of the path. While wallowing, the commensurate kammas accumulate to inevitably having to be dealt with when back on the path. Much wiser to recognise what is going on and use the pleasant feelings to abandon the tendency to lust.

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manas
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by manas » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:51 pm

sunnat wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:45 pm
It's about becoming aware of the impermanent, ever changing not self nature and the suffering that goes with all the craving and thus letting go of it. In the process there is a level where the pleasant feelings become stronger and it's easy to wallow there and lose sight of the path. While wallowing, the commensurate kammas accumulate to inevitably having to be dealt with when back on the path. Much wiser to recognise what is going on and use the pleasant feelings to abandon the tendency to lust.
By 'pleasant feelings' you mean the pleasure of meditation, yes? Inclining more to that, in order to let go of lust?
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:57 pm

manas wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:43 pm
SarathW wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:24 pm
I'm beginning to think, imagine not 'wanting' something all of the time...being at ease, at peace, in the here-and-now. I'm not thinking of what happens after death, I'm thinking about right now, in this present moment, to be free from this incessant wanting...Peace...Nibbana. I'm open to the notion, that some temporary pain & stress (that of practicing the Path more thoroughly) might be worth it, for the sake of the ending of all stress, not in some future life, but in the here-and-now?
It appears that you have started developing your Sati.
Suffering lead to Saddha. (faith)
Once you have faith no more suffering needed as you are already in the path.
Well, it's a bit like 'watching oneself being stupid', but thanks, Sarath. I see myself doing the same things over and over, noticing patterns, basically. But I'm not sure about being on the Path as I still have some sceptical doubt, it seems, despite the Path being the best thing I've ever found, afaic. Still, that's not the same as being 100% convinced.

I'm wondering, have I suffered enough yet, to be getting weary of the treadmill of Samsara? Or do I require more crushing, grinding down, being built up then taken down, bleeding and crying tears enough to fill an Ocean? Is anyone here already weary?
I had similar doubts and did the following post.
I suggest you read it. There are good comments from Santa and Ven.Dhammanando.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=25676&p=369198&hilit=
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by sunnat » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:34 pm

I mean, when meditating or being aware of feelings that rise and pass away, use the pleasant feelings to abandon lust (and unpleasant to abandon the tendency towards hatred, and neutral feelings to abandon the tendency for ignorance).

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by JohnK » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:44 am

manas wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:43 pm
...I still have some sceptical doubt, it seems, despite the Path being the best thing I've ever found, afaic. Still, that's not the same as being 100% convinced.
It sure sounds like you are on the path! -- seeing more and more the lack of real satisfaction in worldly pleasure -- 100% convinced comes later.
I'm wondering, have I suffered enough yet...
Nobody knows. The task of the first truth is to really know suffering -- seems like you are progressing!
:anjali:
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by char101 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:02 am

The Buddha said (I don't remember the sutta, maybe someone can help to point it)

Whatever brings happiness in the present and brings happiness in the future should be pursued
Whatever brings suffering in the present but brings happiness in the future should be pursued
Whatever brings happiness in the present but brings suffering in the future should be avoided
Whatever brings suffering in the present and brings suffering in the future should be avoided

So it isn't about having to suffer to eliminate suffering but about being persistent in pursuing your goal even in the face of difficulty. This applies not only to the effort in Buddhism but to any endeavour.

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by binocular » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:35 pm

manas wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:11 pm
Looking at the mind's objections, the main one is the fear of 'missing out' on all those tasty sensual pleasures.
I wonder how many Buddhists actually know this and think like this themselves, and how many are just repeating what they've heard.
It's standard Buddhist doctrine, for sure, but is this really how one thinks of things?

I think a person must be very self-confident and individualistic to think this way about sensual pleasures. In contrast, in cultures where there is a lot of social pressure for people to abide by social norms, the situation is different. There, people don't pursue various sensual pleasures for the sake of enjoying them (or because they hope to enjoy them), but out of fear of social censure that they would be subject to if they wouldn't pursue them. So the sensual pleasures are actually secondary, primary is the need for fitting in and not doing anything that would earn one punishment from society. In such cultures, people, for example, don't eat particular foods or engage in sex because they would hope for sense gratification from doing so, but out of fear of social censure or even ostracism if they wouldn't eat those foods or engage in sex. They act in line with social norms, regardless whether they like doing so or not.

In some cultures/societies/communities/families, in order to be considered normal, one has to eat meat, for example, or one is subject to severe criticism. So a person living in such a social context will be pressured to eat meat and eats meat, regardless whether they enjoy it or not. And it's similar for many other items that in official Buddhist doctrine are considered "sensual pleasures", but in the actual lives of actual people, the situation may be more complex.

So when one is attempting to do some kind of Buddhist practice while one is living in such a culture/society/community/family, having internalized its values, and yet trying to give up the "sensual pleasures" it officially promotes, this will mean that one will not only be giving up on those sensual activities (consuming alcohol, meat, etc.), but, more importantly, also be giving up their social significance and take upon oneself the social risk of doing so.

This is why it can be so tough to give up "sensual pleasures": because one might not be giving up merely those sensual pleasures, but a lot more. It can mean a detachment from society, with all the negative consequences this entails.
But are sensual pleasures really that good? Over and over again, we desire our favourite food, sexual pleasure, etc etc and while enjoying it, there's a feeling of satisfaction, and for a while afterwards...then, soon after, the desire returns again..."satisfy me again!" and so on and so on, never ceasing. Of course I've read about this many times, but lately, due to mindfulness, I'm beginning to notice the pattern more and more. Desire - Seeking - Enjoyment - Satiety - Desire - Enjoyment...etc etc ad infinitum. It never ceases! Sensual desires are never satisfied, they are never still, there is never any real PEACE when the mind is always inclining to the next pleasure, whatever that may be, there is this constant sense of lack, of wanting something.

If this is all there is to it, then it seems really simple.
But then, after observing the craving- seeking -satiety - craving - etc etc pattern over many years, I'm beginning to wonder if craving is worth holding onto. I'm not asking so much for scriptural quotes, I want to know how other folks genuinely feel about this. Would you like to be free of tanha, this incessant 'thirst'? Also, would you agree, that the suffering involved in overcoming craving, might actually be worth the reward - I mean, I'm imagining, that if one no longer desired sensual pleasure, it would cease to be a problem from that moment on! If we didn't want something, we wouldn't feel bad not having it, we'd be at peace not having it.
I really wouldn't know. I mean, I grew up in a society where people seem to do things primarily out of social pressure and fear of social censure.
I think people here still are like that, even though "the times have changed". The official discourse has changed into one of "Enjoy!", but the fear is ever present. I think even in the US, things are actually this way as well.
So I don't really know what that is, to "crave sensual pleasures" for their own sake. To me, sensual pursuits are generally intrinsically linked to social norms and social pressures, but not to actually enjoying them or hoping to enjoy them.

It is perhaps only in some very small ways that I think one does things purely because one enjoys them -- something in the manner of Akaky Akakievich and the way he liked writing particular letters of the alphabet.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Nov 15, 2019 3:31 pm

There are four modes of progress:
  1. Slow and painful
  2. Slow but not painful
  3. Fast but painful
  4. Fast and not painful
Pain and suffering depends on how strong the craving is, speed depends on how well developed the five powers are: i.e. faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.
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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by Alīno » Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:30 am

manas wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:11 pm
Looking at the mind's objections, the main one is the fear of 'missing out' on all those tasty sensual pleasures. Even as a layperson, we could practice more restraint. (well I know I certainly could). But are sensual pleasures really that good? Over and over again, we desire our favourite food, sexual pleasure, etc etc and while enjoying it, there's a feeling of satisfaction, and for a while afterwards...then, soon after, the desire returns again..."satisfy me again!" and so on and so on, never ceasing. Of course I've read about this many times, but lately, due to mindfulness, I'm beginning to notice the pattern more and more. Desire - Seeking - Enjoyment - Satiety - Desire - Enjoyment...etc etc ad infinitum. It never ceases! Sensual desires are never satisfied, they are never still, there is never any real PEACE when the mind is always inclining to the next pleasure, whatever that may be, there is this constant sense of lack, of wanting something.

I have pondered the attachment of sex pleasure. I don't know about you, but the amount of care and trouble involved in getting it, can seem a pain sometimes. All for something that is ongoing - you can't just have 'the best sex ever' and then feel satisfied with that; next time, you'll want either that again, or even better! It just never stops. It's kind of troublesome. Same with tasty food. That's never satisfied either! Hunger just keeps returning, again and again. I know it's Natural, but it's a bit of a PAIN, is it not? Just like sickness, ageing, death, and all those other Natural things.
Hello manas :anjali:

Very intresting observations :anjali: I thing that you are sitting between two chairs, you feel the dukkha of sensual stimulation, but maybe your samadhi not brings you enought satisfaction yet? Maybe you need to try to re-ogranise your life around samadhi, maybe take 8 precepts for a while, more seclusion and go deeper in peace and calm, so you will be able to let go of sensuality?
Ajahn Sucitto said that suffering sharpens wisdom, and that the process of letting go is when you have something better... So if you want not to suffer from sensual attachment, maybe you need to develop something better? But it envolves a changing of life style, and no many people can do that because of social entanglement they experiance... It's my suggestion, maybe i'am wrong

As concern going throught the fire. I think it depends on our ability to protect our mind, if our senses are guarded then there is no problem, but if some sensual sight came in contact and your mind was infected, then yes you need to recognise the problem as it is : If there is a doubt, then being aware - this is a doubt, it have such feeling, such qualities, such movement, such conditions, such proliferation etc. By simple way of noticing it as it is you will generate a space between you and the infection, this space between is a wisdom faculty. "I know you Mara!" While you generted the necessary space between you and infection, you can work with it by means of 4 Right Efforts.
I suggest you 3 reflection for each case of problems:

- if you are infected by Doubt (in your ability to follow the Path, in your ability to endure temptations, etc) - then try to reflect on DEATH (we are all will die, what is the purpose of sensual simulation?), on Rebirth and all Cosmology in way to make your mind wide large and see a bigger picture of what happens and the meaning of what you are doing, on Devas (if you want to enjoy pleasures, is not with that humain body that you will experiance hight pleasures, so wasting humain body on pleasure is like wasting spending all your money on shewing gum..)
- if you are infected by Sensuality - then try to reflect on ASUBHA aspect of the body, on all that dukkha that involves seeking for sensual stimulation, insatisfactoryness of it and reinforce it with reflections about the accessibility of meditative peace, calm, happiness, bliss...
- if yoy are infected by hatred - then try to reflect on METTA, see people's suffering and wish them be free from that suffering.

You surely know about all this, but repetition of it is good, and practice of it is better... But i think that the solution here is developing peace of Samadhi and protecting one's sense doors.

Desire is a sense of lack, and Samadhi provides this happiness, and happy mind is a mind without lack.

binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:35 pm
So when one is attempting to do some kind of Buddhist practice while one is living in such a culture/society/community/family, having internalized its values, and yet trying to give up the "sensual pleasures" it officially promotes, this will mean that one will not only be giving up on those sensual activities (consuming alcohol, meat, etc.), but, more importantly, also be giving up their social significance and take upon oneself the social risk of doing so.

This is why it can be so tough to give up "sensual pleasures": because one might not be giving up merely those sensual pleasures, but a lot more. It can mean a detachment from society, with all the negative consequences this entails.
Good point :anjali:
The thing is that sensual stimulation is the meaning of life for almost western peoples, so when you say that you protect your mind from sensual stimulation, they are shoked!
The problem is dukkha, and for these peoples the only way to flood the dukkha is through sensual doors, they flood their mind with stimulations. So when you say that you dont flood your mind with sensual stimulations, they think that you are suffering a lot, but they dont imagine that you have something better... But as the only reason for peoples to meet each other - is sensual stimulation, rapidly you are alone, but you are happy because that you know that more there is seclution better practice and more pleasure from it you got. So eventualy there is no problem, peoples goes their way and you go your way.
But yes, renounciate life is a renounciate life... But thats why it's so good. It's difficult to explain to peoples that seclusion is a source of great happiness, but it is as it is... :anjali:
Ajahn Nanadassano (before ordaining) : Venerable Ajahn, what is the bigest error that buddhist do in their practice?
Ajahn Jayasaro : They stop practicing ...

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:42 pm

.


I would answer a "Yes", if I were to rewrite the topic question as:
Must we understand "suffering", in order to get free from suffering?
:heart:
.


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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by form » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:13 am

Balance of joy and suffering is the best for practice. I read about this. Is this something direct from the suttas?

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Re: Must we suffer, in order to get free from suffering?

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:42 pm

form wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:13 am
Balance of joy and suffering is the best for practice.
You mean like eating a piece of chocolate and then balance it out with sip of vinegar? Balancing out a hug with a slap?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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