Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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PeterC86
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Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:07 pm

Greetings to you all,

I just joined this forum and I recently attained Nirvana. I worked my way through various texts about buddhism (books, sutra's) which were quite frustrating for me to read as (A) none of them described the path fully in a clear and rational way, (B) most of the texts were in a format I was not familiar with, (C) I wasn't used to the writing style and use of old language.

This body came to form in the Netherlands, were I went to university. Most of the books and texts I have read used a rational and expository approach. So this mind is conditioned to read texts with a rational line of reasoning and I assume that a lot of people from the 'West' are conditioned in this way.

So, for me to understand the Sutra's, which have a lot of dialogue, was more time-consuming and frustrating then actually understanding the path. During my journey I took notes to help me figure out the pointers of the texts I have read and I used it to keep track of my own understanding of the path and reality. I ended up with a lot of notes, which explained the whole path in detail from a rational perspective. I reworked the notes in a way that they formed a readable manual on how to reach Nirvana for rational thinking people from the 'West.'

The manual might help people with a 'Western' rational thinking mind, who are interested in Buddhism but who are also struggling, as I did, to understand texts about the path. These people might struggle because they are not familiar with the format used, are not familiar with the writing style (lot of metaphors and stories), have trouble to understand old language use, experience a lack of depth and detail in the texts due to writers not fully understanding the path and reality and therefore not able to explain them in a clear, correct and understandable way.

I'd like to share this manual with you guys, so that it may serve to help people on the path and maybe someone will offer feedback on how to improve the manual or to fix errors. I am not doing this for any personal gain. The website I refer to has no advertisements, banners, malware, etc.. I am also not interested to gain a following, as the website only contains texts. There is no forum on the website and my name is not visible anywhere. My only purpose is to share knowledge in order to help people on the path. The link to the manual is; https://foundationsofhumanlife.com

Thanks in advance for your responses. Sharing is caring.

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Bundokji
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by Bundokji » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:02 pm

I did not read the whole manual, but few sections and paragraphs from each section. I don't have the knowledge to evaluate the content, but the way the ideas are formed and presented are simple and easy to understand and nothing appeared to be illogical or out of this world. If your goal was to simplify what you know, i think you have achieved that.
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.

dharmacorps
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:12 pm

Only criticism, since you asked for it, would be that you will probably lose many/most people when you proclaim you have attained Nirvana. It is hard to take such claims seriously. I believe there are arahants in the world, but I doubt they would ever introduce themselves as having attained Nirvana in the first sentence on their first post on a internet forum. :shrug:

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:17 pm

PeterC86 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:07 pm
... I recently attained Nirvana...
It's a sad fact of life that for most people, saying you attained Nirvana immediately puts you in the lunatic basket. People immediately see you as profoundly mistaken or even mentally ill, and anything you write or say will be dismissed.
Just keep that in mind if you intend to be a teacher.

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DooDoot
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by DooDoot » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:53 pm

As a person, (I), you suffer continuously from dissatisfaction throughout your life, because your personality is built up from desires and these desires have to be continuously satisfied. If you have a desire, you are dissatisfied with the current situation! Therefore; the more desires, the greater your ego, and the more effort it will cost you to satisfy these desires. Buddhism tries to provide insight into the root cause of this constant dissatisfaction and the additional egocentric emotions that one experiences as a person, in order to be able remove the cause. The term ‘dissatisfaction’ is derived from the Pali word ‘Dukkha’. Pali is the language in which the first Buddhist texts were written. In many translations to Western languages, the word Dukkha is often, perhaps unfortunately, translated into the word suffering. The word suffering is often interpreted differently than unsatisfactoriness. This other interpretation may be the reason why Buddhism is not correctly understood by many people in the Western world, or approached with a false assumption.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
When the Buddha first used the word "dukkha", he referred to the common & worldly pain & terror of a woman giving child birth, the difficulty & pain enduring sickness & old age and the terror & grief of loss of death, such as the terror of one's own death or the loss of loved ones. He also referred to the suffering, frustration & dissatisfaction of separation from the loved, association with the unloved & wanting something & not getting it. The culmination of this dukkha was described as "sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & despair". This is how the Buddha described ordinary "dukkha". Then the Buddha summarised all suffering as: Attaching to the five aggregates (as "I", "me" and "mine"). Then, in some later teachings, the Buddha described 'attachment' or "conceiving self" itself as "an arrow". I think when the mind is enlightened (& thus pure), it feels any attachment or clinging is disturbing or suffering. It seems the Buddha was referring to more than mere ‘dissatisfaction’. It seems he was talking about "suffering".
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:15 pm

Perfectly awakened Buddhas do not need spellcheck.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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DooDoot
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by DooDoot » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:32 pm

By seeing the cause of your unsatisfactoriness

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
In English, the word "unsatisfactoriness" does not appear to be an "emotion". An English dictionary says:
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone

inadequateness, inadequacy - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being inadequate

perishability, perishableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being subject to decay or spoilage or destruction

unacceptability, unacceptableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of not conforming to approved standards

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/unsatisfactoriness
The above dictionary meanings of "unsatisfactoriness" may apply to when the Buddha used the word "dukkha" in his 2nd sermon but they do not appear to apply to how the Buddha used the word "dukkha" in his 1st sermon. For example, substituting the dictionary meaning into the 1st & 2nd sermons:

1. Attachment to the five aggregates is inadequate. :strawman:

2. That which is impermanent is inadequate. :thumbsup:
which arises from your desires, and taking it away, you are enlightening yourself of this dissatisfaction and additional egocentric emotions. Enlightenment stands for a sharp reduction or dissolving, in Buddhism.
In Buddhism, enlightenment (bodhi; nanadassana; vipassana) is penetrating wisdom or seeing that results in dissolving (nirodha). There are two processes occurring here: (i) insight; and (ii) the result of insight, namely, nirodha.
Examples of self-centered emotions include; disappointment, grief, anger, fear, guilt, shame, envy, contempt, jealousy, hatred, disgust, frustration, stress, pride, uncertainty and doubt. All these negative emotions are ultimately caused by your ego or your desires. Shame comes from your desire for socially acceptable behavior. The embodiment of pride is a positive emotion, however, once pride has manifested itself, it can be affected and this degradation forms a negative emotion. In addition, pride can also provide a desire for recognition from others, for what one is proud of. This desire can cause negative emotions and gives rise to unsatisfactoriness. Pride can likewise be based on an incorrect sense of self, personal norms and values, status or achievements.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
The above sounds relevant & valid as types of "birth" however the Buddha often emphasised aging, illness & death. The above seems focused on psychology rather than the bigger picture.
Last edited by DooDoot on Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:38 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:32 pm
By seeing the cause of your unsatisfactoriness

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
The above sounds like a superstitious clinging to language. In English, the word "unsatisfactoriness" does not appear to be an "emotion". An English dictionary says:
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone

inadequateness, inadequacy - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being inadequate

perishability, perishableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being subject to decay or spoilage or destruction

unacceptability, unacceptableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of not conforming to approved standards

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/unsatisfactoriness
I don't really go for defending internet steam-entrants (sic). But IMO unsatisfactory, I think he meant vedanā: sukhāvedaniyam, duḥkhavedaniyam, aduḥkhamāsukhāvedaniyam, in this triad particularly duḥkhavedaniyam. He is mistaking emotion for feeling, which IMO is a fair misunderstanding for a beginner. I think viewed this way the root mistake behind the passage can be found, but maybe I am talking nonsense. I didn't actually bother to read his website, I will admit.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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DooDoot
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by DooDoot » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:52 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:38 pm
But IMO unsatisfactory, I think he meant vedanā: sukhāvedaniyam, duḥkhavedaniyam, aduḥkhamāsukhāvedaniyam, in this triad particularly duḥkhavedaniyam. He is mistaking emotion for feeling, which IMO is a fair misunderstanding for a beginner. I think viewed this way the root mistake behind the passage can be found, but maybe I am talking nonsense. I didn't actually bother to read his website, I will admit.
The website appears to be saying "dukkha" means "dissatisfaction" and "unsatisfactoriness" (both meaning the same thing) in relation to common frustrating emotions. I think the Buddha used the word "dukkha" much more broadly and "dissatisfaction" or "discontent" is merely one emotional dukkha among many different emotions. Like many Westerners, the author seems to believe the word "dukkha" has only one meaning thus can only be translated in one way.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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DooDoot
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by DooDoot » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:33 am

The below sounds like Hinduism & Brahman.
First, there must be consciousness. Only then can a concept of consciousness arise. The mind is an instrument of consciousness through which thoughts are perceived. That which perceives this concept of consciousness is consciousness: that is you, and not the concept that you have of consciousness. In other words; from your consciousness you can not conceptualize consciousness, for you are consciousness. Consciousness cannot be conceptualized in any way because it precedes and surpasses all concepts.

We thus perceive reality, via stimuli, within ourselves. However, we, ourselves are consciousness. As a result, we are not ‘selves’, but only reality. You can not explain yourself. This, of course, does not mean that what is perceived can have no meaning. As described before; conceptualizing is meaningful by definition.

Summarizing the above; you are consciousness, so you perceive reality (through stimuli) within yourself. Since, however, you are consciousness and only perceive, you thus perceive reality as yourself. If you perceive reality as yourself, you are not yourself, but only reality [Brahman]. So there is no self, but only reality [Brahman].

Understanding the above creates a radical change in the way reality is perceived. You are aware that you are the awareness of reality and are not separate from it. You are everything that happens in your environment and body, because you perceive this. This gives you a deeper connection with people, animals, plants and things from your environment, which is expressed in a (deep) sense of sympathy, compassion or loving kindness. This feeling arises because you no longer perceive from your person, but from reality, and realize that everything from reality is connected with your body and each other. This experiential knowledge, together with the extinguishing (enlightening) of your egocentric desires and emotions, is called Nirvana in Buddhism and is the final stage of the experiential doctrine of Buddhism. To fully understand the above, you need insight into the rest of reality.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/6-consciousness/
The above doesn't sound like Nirvana in Buddhism and the final stage of the experiential doctrine of Buddhism. Its sounds like Hinduism.
After gaining insight into mutual dependent arising and the emptiness of essence, we are left with consciousness; we perceive something. We now know that if something is formed, for instance a flower, we can’t define it by merely observing its physical presence. The flower also needs everything around the physical presence of the flower to be the flower. This means that without the air, the soil, the sun, et cetera, the flower would not be there. Therefore, the flower can’t be truly defined as it needs everything to exist and consequently its essence is empty. So nothing is truly formed, because we can’t really define something. If we identify or define something, this is only a mental fabrication. But we still experience ‘things,’ so these ‘things’ are without form.....

....We are merely a mental fabrication from the attempt to identify and define ourselves out of ignorance. The ignorance that there truly is nothing to permanently identify with. The moment you have let go of the identification with form, you are left with the identification with the formless. Although you do not define a form anymore, you do recognize you experience something. We attain Nirvana when we also have let go of the identification with the formless. We are conscious that nothing is formed, as the essence of form is empty. This means that something is without form. However, also the essence of the formless is empty and is therefore nothing. So nothing is formed and nothing is without form. Nothing does not come and nothing does not go. Nothing is permanent, everything is impermanent. We dissolved into nothingness, as we were nothing to begin with.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/14-nirvana/
First & foremost, Nirvana is the ending of dukkha. The above ideas about Nirvana never appear to mention this. In other words, when the mind (not "we" or "you") lets go of identification, this is peaceful; this is free.
PeterC86 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:07 pm
Thanks in advance for your responses. Sharing is caring.
Welcome Peter. I browsed some of what you wrote. Many of your paragraphs about 'ego', 'preference', 'expectation' & 'dukkha' were very well explained. Some paragraphs are very well written, such as the last paragraph of 'Ego and emotions'. However, I think a lot of what you wrote sounds like plagiarism.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

PeterC86
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:34 am

Bundokji wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:02 pm
I did not read the whole manual, but few sections and paragraphs from each section. I don't have the knowledge to evaluate the content, but the way the ideas are formed and presented are simple and easy to understand and nothing appeared to be illogical or out of this world. If your goal was to simplify what you know, i think you have achieved that.
Thanks for your message! Where are you on the path?

PeterC86
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:35 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:12 pm
Only criticism, since you asked for it, would be that you will probably lose many/most people when you proclaim you have attained Nirvana. It is hard to take such claims seriously. I believe there are arahants in the world, but I doubt they would ever introduce themselves as having attained Nirvana in the first sentence on their first post on a internet forum. :shrug:
Why not?

PeterC86
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:42 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:17 pm
PeterC86 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:07 pm
... I recently attained Nirvana...
It's a sad fact of life that for most people, saying you attained Nirvana immediately puts you in the lunatic basket. People immediately see you as profoundly mistaken or even mentally ill, and anything you write or say will be dismissed.
Just keep that in mind if you intend to be a teacher.
Okay thanks for your reply, but that is more their problem than mine. How is that? Are there people saying this without actually having the wisdom?

PeterC86
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:46 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:53 pm
As a person, (I), you suffer continuously from dissatisfaction throughout your life, because your personality is built up from desires and these desires have to be continuously satisfied. If you have a desire, you are dissatisfied with the current situation! Therefore; the more desires, the greater your ego, and the more effort it will cost you to satisfy these desires. Buddhism tries to provide insight into the root cause of this constant dissatisfaction and the additional egocentric emotions that one experiences as a person, in order to be able remove the cause. The term ‘dissatisfaction’ is derived from the Pali word ‘Dukkha’. Pali is the language in which the first Buddhist texts were written. In many translations to Western languages, the word Dukkha is often, perhaps unfortunately, translated into the word suffering. The word suffering is often interpreted differently than unsatisfactoriness. This other interpretation may be the reason why Buddhism is not correctly understood by many people in the Western world, or approached with a false assumption.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
When the Buddha first used the word "dukkha", he referred to the common & worldly pain & terror of a woman giving child birth, the difficulty & pain enduring sickness & old age and the terror & grief of loss of death, such as the terror of one's own death or the loss of loved ones. He also referred to the suffering, frustration & dissatisfaction of separation from the loved, association with the unloved & wanting something & not getting it. The culmination of this dukkha was described as "sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & despair". This is how the Buddha described ordinary "dukkha". Then the Buddha summarised all suffering as: Attaching to the five aggregates (as "I", "me" and "mine"). Then, in some later teachings, the Buddha described 'attachment' or "conceiving self" itself as "an arrow". I think when the mind is enlightened (& thus pure), it feels any attachment or clinging is disturbing or suffering. It seems the Buddha was referring to more than mere ‘dissatisfaction’. It seems he was talking about "suffering".
What's the difference?

PeterC86
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Re: Foundations of Human Life - A road to Nirvana for the West

Post by PeterC86 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:49 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:32 pm
By seeing the cause of your unsatisfactoriness

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
In English, the word "unsatisfactoriness" does not appear to be an "emotion". An English dictionary says:
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone

inadequateness, inadequacy - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being inadequate

perishability, perishableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of being subject to decay or spoilage or destruction

unacceptability, unacceptableness - unsatisfactoriness by virtue of not conforming to approved standards

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/unsatisfactoriness
The above dictionary meanings of "unsatisfactoriness" may apply to when the Buddha used the word "dukkha" in his 2nd sermon but they do not appear to apply to how the Buddha used the word "dukkha" in his 1st sermon. For example, substituting the dictionary meaning into the 1st & 2nd sermons:

1. Attachment to the five aggregates is inadequate. :strawman:

2. That which is impermanent is inadequate. :thumbsup:
which arises from your desires, and taking it away, you are enlightening yourself of this dissatisfaction and additional egocentric emotions. Enlightenment stands for a sharp reduction or dissolving, in Buddhism.
In Buddhism, enlightenment (bodhi; nanadassana; vipassana) is penetrating wisdom or seeing that results in dissolving (nirodha). There are two processes occurring here: (i) insight; and (ii) the result of insight, namely, nirodha.
Examples of self-centered emotions include; disappointment, grief, anger, fear, guilt, shame, envy, contempt, jealousy, hatred, disgust, frustration, stress, pride, uncertainty and doubt. All these negative emotions are ultimately caused by your ego or your desires. Shame comes from your desire for socially acceptable behavior. The embodiment of pride is a positive emotion, however, once pride has manifested itself, it can be affected and this degradation forms a negative emotion. In addition, pride can also provide a desire for recognition from others, for what one is proud of. This desire can cause negative emotions and gives rise to unsatisfactoriness. Pride can likewise be based on an incorrect sense of self, personal norms and values, status or achievements.

https://foundationsofhumanlife.com/1-ego-and-emotions/
The above sounds relevant & valid as types of "birth" however the Buddha often emphasised aging, illness & death. The above seems focused on psychology rather than the bigger picture.
Just because the word unsatisfactoriness is in the chapter 'Ego & emotions' doesn't mean it is an emotion.
If you read the whole manual you will see it doesn't matter anyway, it is nitpicking what word means what exactly. In the end you will see it are just pointers as their essence is empty.

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