Is Buddhism a death cult?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
rolling_boulder
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Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by rolling_boulder »

:thinking:

"Dismiss this life, worship death. "
-Death Grips

"The noblest of people are those despising wealth, learning, pleasure, and death, esteeming above them poverty, hardship, ignorance, and death."

-Diogenes, quoted by Stobaeus

Hi, talking to some traditional Buddhists I hear them referring to Nibbana as though it's sort of the "end of everything...", like annihilation from the materialist-annihilationists' perspective. These ones believe that Nibbana is essentially just non-experience.

It's interesting because in a certain light, it's almost like a suicidal impulse. "We practice to destroy the Self." "I don't want to be born again." This is how it's talked about sometimes.

For these Buddhists, life is an essentially bad thing.

Then I remember an Ajahn Chah quote saying, "The only thing that has to end is the desire that it all end."

That's a profound and challenging quote... Sometimes deep in meditation I contemplate it and use it to measure my own remaining discontendedness with even that refined state, my craving that still isn't uprooted.

It's certainly fundamental to Buddhism that Parinibbana is the end of rebirth. Whatever that really means. But...

The Buddha said that the cause of Dukkha is the three kinds of craving. Kama tanha, bhava tanha, and also vibhava tanha.

So isn't it so that meditating and practicing for the sake of final annihilation is a manifestation of vibhava-tanha?

There is a video game, Planescape: torment, where you play as a character who wakes up in a morgue with no memory of their previous life. You find out later that this character can never die, and any time they do, their body reforms and the journey begins again to find the cause of this curse of eternal life. In the game, there is a death cult called the "Dustmen, " robed figures who worship something called the "True Death, " final annihilation which comes by stripping oneself of the passions of emotional attachment. Very Buddhist no? But in the game, this cult is portrayed in a very spooky and negative way. Is it a valid critique of Buddhism?

(I wonder how Buddhism would be viewed if we were to start calling call parinibbana the "True Death", and so on.)


So how is it?
Do you see Buddhism as a religion that worships death?

I'm not sure where I stand on this myself.

Are we a death cult? Are we "dustmen"?

Rb
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

justindesilva
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by justindesilva »

rolling_boulder wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:05 am
:thinking:

"Dismiss this life, worship death. "
-Death Grips

"The noblest of people are those despising wealth, learning, pleasure, and death, esteeming above them poverty, hardship, ignorance, and death."

-Diogenes, quoted by Stobaeus

Hi, talking to some traditional Buddhists I hear them referring to Nibbana as though it's sort of the "end of everything...", like annihilation from the materialist-annihilationists' perspective. These ones believe that Nibbana is essentially just non-experience.

It's interesting because in a certain light, it's almost like a suicidal impulse. "We practice to destroy the Self." "I don't want to be born again." This is how it's talked about sometimes.

For these Buddhists, life is an essentially bad thing.

Then I remember an Ajahn Chah quote saying, "The only thing that has to end is the desire that it all end."

That's a profound and challenging quote... Sometimes deep in meditation I contemplate it and use it to measure my own remaining discontendedness with even that refined state, my craving that still isn't uprooted.

It's certainly fundamental to Buddhism that Parinibbana is the end of rebirth. Whatever that really means. But...

The Buddha said that the cause of Dukkha is the three kinds of craving. Kama tanha, bhava tanha, and also vibhava tanha.

So isn't it so that meditating and practicing for the sake of final annihilation is a manifestation of vibhava-tanha?

There is a video game, Planescape: torment, where you play as a character who wakes up in a morgue with no memory of their previous life. You find out later that this character can never die, and any time they do, their body reforms and the journey begins again to find the cause of this curse of eternal life. In the game, there is a death cult called the "Dustmen, " robed figures who worship something called the "True Death, " final annihilation which comes by stripping oneself of the passions of emotional attachment. Very Buddhist no? But in the game, this cult is portrayed in a very spooky and negative way. Is it a valid critique of Buddhism?

(I wonder how Buddhism would be viewed if we were to start calling call parinibbana the "True Death", and so on.)


So how is it?
Do you see Buddhism as a religion that worships death?

I'm not sure where I stand on this myself.

Are we a death cult? Are we "dustmen"?

Rb
In another forum recently I showed that the first precept of Pancasila as - I refrain from harming living beings . Living beings means beings containing life. Though up to date as I see nobody has analysed LIFE , it is the essential energy of this earth and universe. Life is an energy which shapes and maintains the earth and the universe.
Paticca samuppada explains the routine process of beings or the living beings not only human beings. Nibbana again is the end of the process of Paticcasamuppada but not an annihilation.
Death of a being in Buddhism is only the change of mode of living in transferring the Bhava or existence from a human life to a higher form of life as Deva or Brahma along with transferring the existence to a lower life as an animal or preta.
Death is a term in Buddhism which means the temporary separation of mind and material body and thus death does not make an important event for a Buddhist to create a cult.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Sam Vara »

rolling_boulder wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:05 am
:thinking:

"Dismiss this life, worship death. "
-Death Grips

"The noblest of people are those despising wealth, learning, pleasure, and death, esteeming above them poverty, hardship, ignorance, and death."

-Diogenes, quoted by Stobaeus

Hi, talking to some traditional Buddhists I hear them referring to Nibbana as though it's sort of the "end of everything...", like annihilation from the materialist-annihilationists' perspective. These ones believe that Nibbana is essentially just non-experience.

It's interesting because in a certain light, it's almost like a suicidal impulse. "We practice to destroy the Self." "I don't want to be born again." This is how it's talked about sometimes.
In the suttas, though, there is repeated emphasis upon "the deathless", amata, as the goal of the practice.

rolling_boulder
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by rolling_boulder »

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:55 am
In the suttas, though, there is repeated emphasis upon "the deathless", amata, as the goal of the practice.
Forgive me that I like to poke and question.

What's the deathless?

Of course it's the age old question.

But why are we so sure that we want it? So many Buddhists say we practice for the sake of the Deathless but we don't even know what it is. Strange isn't it. Usually when we want something we can describe it.

We just have this incomprehensible figure, the Buddha, telling us it's a good idea. Well, some radical Christians might say the Buddha's teaching is just a trap that leads to some kind of eternal purgatory... :stirthepot:

I'm imagining someone finally attaining this Deathless and realizing, "oh no, this isn't what I wanted actually," but then they're trapped in this deathlessness forever.... Lol I know that's not how it works. But.
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

SarathW
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by SarathW »

Death cult definition as per the dictionary.

"a fringe religious group that glorifies or is obsessed with death."

======
If I take the above definition, that Buddhism is not a death cult.
Buddhists contemplate inevitable death so they are not sorrow or lamentation about it.
Buddha also discouraged suicide.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings,

Thinking that Nibbana is annihilation or the end of everything is a view point that arises from clinging to sense experience. The same with thinking that it is some kind of eternal realm thingy. The deathless is where the concept of death is seen through, let go of and made to cease.
So isn't it so that meditating and practicing for the sake of final annihilation is a manifestation of vibhava-tanha?
Thinking it’s annihilation is a view point. The Buddha and Arahants are beyond views. They have no view. As for desire, it is by relying on desire that we can let go of desire. It is by relying upon conceit that we can abandon conceit. It is by relying upon right view that we abandon all views.

Metta

:)
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Sam Vara »

rolling_boulder wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:02 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:55 am
In the suttas, though, there is repeated emphasis upon "the deathless", amata, as the goal of the practice.
Forgive me that I like to poke and question.

What's the deathless?

Of course it's the age old question.

But why are we so sure that we want it? So many Buddhists say we practice for the sake of the Deathless but we don't even know what it is. Strange isn't it. Usually when we want something we can describe it.

I'm imagining someone finally attaining this Deathless and realizing, "oh no, this isn't what I wanted actually," but then they're trapped in this deathlessness forever.... Lol I know that's not how it works. But.
I'm afraid that being able to give a convincing account of "the deathless" is above my pay grade, but I do know that death is an extremely unpleasant aspect of my world. As the Buddha said, it is suffering. Whichever way it is conceived, a world overshadowed and involved with death is an unpleasant prospect. The death of the physical body often appears to be physically and mentally painful and distressing. The death of loved ones has tormented me. The death of situations and states of mind involves me being removed from what I get pleasure from. The death of what I take myself to be is also difficult.

So something in my world that holds out an offer of a reality free from these things is going to grab my attention. It makes me want to explore, to take advice on what this might be and how it might be obtained. To use similes from the suttas, it's a bit like being swept away or threatened by water, and someone claims to know dry land; or like burning with heat and thirst and someone offers coolness. To use the Ratthapāla terms from your signature, someone is offering something that is not swept away, is protection, that is not left behind, and does not involve being a slave to desire.

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Wizard in the Forest »

If by death you mean the death of anger, the Buddha says yes, kill anger, but that's not what you meant. We are supposed to lead to the end of greed, hatred and delusion and that itself is the end of suffering.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

rolling_boulder
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by rolling_boulder »

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:24 am
So something in my world that holds out an offer of a reality free from these things is going to grab my attention. It makes me want to explore, to take advice on what this might be and how it might be obtained. To use similes from the suttas, it's a bit like being swept away or threatened by water, and someone claims to know dry land; or like burning with heat and thirst and someone offers coolness.
:goodpost:
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

Srilankaputra
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Srilankaputra »

From a talk to an Ageing Lay Disciple
approaching Death ~Ajahn chah
This very lump of flesh that lies here in decline is saccadhamma, the truth. The truth of this body is saccadhamma, and it is the unchanging teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha taught us to look at the body, to contemplate it and come to terms with its nature. We must be able to be at peace with the body, whatever state it is in. The Buddha taught that we should ensure that it's only the body that is locked up in jail and not let the mind be imprisoned along with it. Now as your body begins to run down and deteriorate with age, don't resist that, but don't let your mind deteriorate with it. Keep the mind separate. Give energy to the mind by realizing the truth of the way things are. The Lord Buddha taught that this is the nature of the body, it can't be any other way: having been born it gets old and sick and then it dies. This is a great truth you are presently encountering. Look at the body with wisdom and realize it.
https://www.bps.lk/olib/bl/bl111_Chah_O ... ciple.html
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

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SDC
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by SDC »

Maraṇasati...death cult sounds cool 8-)

But isn't about worshipping death. It's about knowing that life is defined by death. This body is subject to it. End of story.

Laurens
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by Laurens »

I think Buddhism encourages us to look at reality for what it is. Part of that is acknowledging death. I don't know if that makes it a death cult...

But if so, its better to acknowledge it than ignoring it.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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cappuccino
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by cappuccino »

rolling_boulder wrote: (I wonder how Buddhism would be viewed if we were to start calling call parinibbana the "True Death", and so on.)
that's the wrong view & leads to hell

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confusedlayman
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by confusedlayman »

cappuccino wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:49 pm
rolling_boulder wrote: (I wonder how Buddhism would be viewed if we were to start calling call parinibbana the "True Death", and so on.)
that's the wrong view & leads to hell
Can u explain why its wrong view?
Find a tree and practice jhana or dont regret later- Buddha
Something exist, dont exist, both exist and non exist, neither exist nor dont exist .. all these four possibilities are wrong- Nagarjuna
Find a dhamma companion or roam alone like rhinoceros in the wild- Buddha
If you are not happy even after following 8NP then you are doing it wrong- CL (confused layman)

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cappuccino
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Re: Is Buddhism a death cult?

Post by cappuccino »

confusedlayman wrote: Can u explain why its the wrong view?
the truth is immortality
Last edited by cappuccino on Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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