Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by ancientbuddhism » Thu May 15, 2014 4:00 pm

Mkoll wrote:
Kusala wrote:
SarathW wrote:According to Buddhist stories, that Buddha descended from the Deva world (heaven) to this earth to attain Nirvana.
Is it possible that we are here for the same reason?
Samsara is void of reason...

Image
That's a powerful picture...
This image is from ISKCON. Their philosophical position on rebirth and saṃsāra is taken from
Gaudiya Vaishnavism. I think Vaishnavism, especially this form, came later than Buddhism. But you kinda get a sense that they were pulling water from the same well where rebirth mythology is concerned.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6461
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Mkoll » Thu May 15, 2014 8:32 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:But you kinda get a sense that they were pulling water from the same well where rebirth mythology is concerned.
Indeed.

And even bereft of any religious connotations, I've never seen a picture that shows every stage of a man's life, from birth to death. It really shows our mortality and how brief our journey here is.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
Javi
Posts: 474
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Javi » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:08 am

I recently read something just a few hours ago that is relevant to this whole "meaning" and purpose business. It is from Mark Siderit's Buddhism as philosophy, page 76-77:
By now it should be clear why enlightenment brings about the cessation of existential suffering. In effect the Buddhist is saying we experience such suffering because we take too seriously the useful fiction of the person. We experience existential suffering when the fact of our transitoriness undermines the belief that our lives can have meaning. But how did I come to think that my life might have meaning? This seems to be part of what it means to think of oneself as a person. And a person is just a useful fiction, like the average college student. We wouldn't make the mistake of searching for the meaning of the life of the average college student. So when we feel despair over the seeming pointlessness of our own lives, this is because of a fundamental error in our view of what we are. To see the Buddhist's point here it might be useful to consider how we go about socializing small children. As adults we automatically think of ourselves as persons, so we naturally assume that we always did. But the experience of child-rearing tells us differently. Much of the work of raising a child involves getting the child to think of itself as a person. That is, the child must learn to identify with the past and future stages in the causal series of psychophysical elements. Take food issues, for instance. Eating healthy foods does not always bring immediate pleasure. But telling the recalcitrant child that eating these foods will promote long-term health has little effect. This isn't necessarily because the child doesn't believe what they are told. It's because the child doesn't identify with the healthy adult it will become if it eats the right food. Its basic attitude is, 'Why eat something now that doesn't taste good for the sake of someone who doesn't even exist? Why should I care about what happens to them?' Likewise when the child is punished for a past misdeed. Until the child has learned to identify with those past psychophysical elements, it will seem quite unfair: 'Why make me suffer for something somebody else did?' Coming to see itself as a person is not an easy lesson for the child to learn. We try to make it easier, though, by getting the child to think of their life as a story they get to write. To become a person involves learning to make present sacrifices for the sake of future welfare. The child learns to do this by learning to think of its present choices as having meaning for the future. It learns to think of its life as a kind of narrative. And it learns to think of itself as the central figure in that narrative. Because we learned those lessons well, we expect our lives to have significance. Notice that the Buddhist is not recommending that we become like that small child. The lesson the child learns is important. It leads to there being less overall pain and suffering in the world. It is conventionally true that we are persons. The difficulty the Buddhist is pointing out comes from the way in which we leamed that lesson. We leamed it by coming to think of ourselves as characters in a drama, figures whose actions have meaning for the future of the story. And this bit of useful myth-making is what sets the stage for existential suffering. What we need to do is unleam the myth but continue the practice. I should continue to identify with the past and future stages of this causal series. But I should not do so because I think of myself as the hero of the story that is my life. I should do so because this is a way of bringing about more pleasure and less pain in the world. Because I feel special concem for the future elements in the series, I brush and floss. And so there is less pain. Because I take responsibility for the past elements in the series, I acknowledge past mistakes and avoid repeating them. And so there is less pain. In one respect the enlightened person's life isjust like ours. We all identify with the past and future stages of the causal series. And we try to brush and floss. The difference is that the enlightened person does so without leaning on the crutch ofa self that confers significance on the events of a life. The enlightened person avoids the pain of tooth decay, just like the rest of us . But the enlightened person also avoids existential suffering.

One common reaction to this account of nirvana is to find it hugely depressing. This often stems from the sense that the Buddhist account robs life of all meaning. If the events in my life don't fit into some larger scheme, then what's the point? It's little consolation to be told that the sense that our lives each have their own unique purpose was always just an illusion. But according to the Buddhist, this reaction rests on a still deeper mistake. For there to be depression over the lack of ultimate meaning, there must be a subject for whom meaninglessness is a source of despair. When the Buddhist denies that our lives have meaning, it is not because they hold that our lives are inherently meaningless. It is rather because they hold that meaning requires something that does not ultimately exist, the subject for whom events in a life can have meaning. If there is no such subject -if there is no self - then there is equally no subject whose life can lack all meaning. There is no one whose life either has or lacks meaning. There is just the life.

This last point helps us see how there might be some truth to the claim that being enlightened means living in the here and now. We saw that being enlightened does notmean having no concem for the future consequences of my present actions. But it is one thing to consider tomorrow's hangover when deciding how much beer to drink tonight. It is another to see that decision as defining who I am. It can be burdensome to see each event in my life as having meaning for my identity. This can detract from our appreciation ofthe present. And it can make bad experiences worse. Being sick or injured is painful. But in addition to the pain itself, there is the anxiety that comes from wondering what this pain says about who I am and where I am going. When the enlightened person is sick or injured they will seek the appropriate medical help to relieve their pain. But they will not experience the suffering we ordinarily feel in those circumstances. They are liberated from the burdens that come with the sense of a self. Perhaps this is why, in Buddhist art, enlightened persons are often depicted with a serene half-smile on their faces.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

User avatar
Pasada
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 3:20 am

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Pasada » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:09 am

I tend to agree with Hobbes:

Image

That's what samsara amounts to, really: having to feed, being fed upon in turn. There is no in built "purpose" to it, but by practicing Dhamma we give our existence a purpose and direction that it would otherwise lack.

User avatar
Thisperson
Posts: 401
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Thisperson » Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:02 am

Ajahn Chah's advice on the subject, narrated by Ajahn Amaro.

Pinetree
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:25 am

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Pinetree » Sat Jan 02, 2016 7:25 am

A child has a self, just shorter memory. I believe psychologists say that a child's self is bigger than an adults, not smaller.

And I don't think memory is the issue (as in our future and past). Memory just expands on the issue, which is craving.

As for meaning ... that's something completely different, it is a representation of a goal, and while it is true that many people have a goal based on their self, we really shouldn't overlap meaning with self.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Alex123 » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:12 pm

Pinetree wrote:A child has a self, just shorter memory. I believe psychologists say that a child's self is bigger than an adults, not smaller.
A child has more non-reflective, instinctual, "selfishness" because he doesn't yet have formed concept of others, and cannot yet help them. So it is all instinctively about "me, me, me".

His self cannot possibly be bigger than adults because the child cannot yet form advanced concepts of self, others, what belongs to self vs others, etc.

Also a child has less desires than adults.


IMHO,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Saoshun
Posts: 278
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:59 pm

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Saoshun » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:31 pm

We are here because somebody have sex and you appear as combination of biological aspects, nirvana is just opportunity for human to realize mind nature.
Remember… the Buddha had said that everyone living in this world is crazy, by the phrase, “Sabbē prutajjana ummattakā”; excluding the Arahants, everyone else is crazy. Would you get angry if a mad person scolds? Do we get angry for a crazy thing done by a crazy person? Just think about it! :candle:

Pinetree
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:25 am

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by Pinetree » Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:19 pm

So it is all instinctively about "me, me, me".
Precisely my point. A child's self is bigger in the sense that's all that he knows, and he doesn't understand about others desires/feelings, etc.


But I wouldn't make a difference about "instinctively", because what a child is taught (what the quote talks about) is build precisely around this instinct. If the instinct wasn't there, any self-empowering teaching would fail.

SarathW
Posts: 10503
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Are we in this earth to attain Nirvana?

Post by SarathW » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:32 am

This is a very old post.
I always thought that all sentients are striving for Nibbana.
I never knew it is a Mahayana thought.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 66 guests