Suffering as a gateway to the truth

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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:13 pm

bkmudita wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:20 pm
Why the Buddha left his family life to pursue a samana's life? Because he saw the dukkha of human life, which is bounded by cycles of death and rebirth. Within it, he saw the ultimate unsatisfactory and painful nature(that is dukkha) of life in this samsāra world. He wanted to seek deathless. And he thought he found the path toward deathless. So he wanted to help those likeminded.
So the answer is, he taught what he perceived.
Thanks Bhante :anjali:

Correct me if i am wrong, but at the outset he had no direct knowledge of the cycles of death and rebirth. What he saw was sickness, old age, death and an ascetic. Knowledge of his previous lives came at a very late stage of his enlightenment, so his initial search for the truth had nothing to do with rebirth as far as i know.

I am also not sure if he went to seek deathless but to understand why there is suffering. His knowledge of the deathless came after his enlightenment.

He might have taught what he perceived (not sure) but the truth of what he taught is not simply by virtue of him perceiving it. In MN1, he described associating certain perceptions with the ultimate truth as lack of understanding.

The end of suffering seem to be a by-product of superior knowledge (certainty). If the mark of samsara is deception, true knowledge has to be undeceptive, not partial and reliable (the opposite of worldly knowledge).

But is the fact that suffering is the necessary entry point to certainty completely accidental? I remember Ven Dhammanado saying that the Buddhist view of the universe is that it has no teleology, but how enlightenment is then possible? Is the whole thing ultimately a pure chance?
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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cappuccino
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by cappuccino » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:20 pm

Bundokji wrote: Is the whole thing ultimately a pure chance?
perhaps you should read the Bhagavad Gita

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bkmudita
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by bkmudita » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:38 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:13 pm

Correct me if i am wrong, but at the outset he had no direct knowledge of the cycles of death and rebirth. What he saw was sickness, old age, death and an ascetic. Knowledge of his previous lives came at a very late stage of his enlightenment, so his initial search for the truth had nothing to do with rebirth as far as i know.

I am also not sure if he went to seek deathless but to understand why there is suffering. His knowledge of the deathless came after his enlightenment.

He might have taught what he perceived (not sure) but the truth of what he taught is not simply by virtue of him perceiving it. In MN1, he described associating certain perceptions with the ultimate truth as lack of understanding.

The end of suffering seem to be a by-product of superior knowledge (certainty). If the mark of samsara is deception, true knowledge has to be undeceptive, not partial and reliable (the opposite of worldly knowledge).

But is the fact that suffering is the necessary entry point to certainty completely accidental? I remember Ven Dhammanado saying that the Buddhist view of the universe is that it has no teleology, but how enlightenment is then possible? Is the whole thing ultimately a pure chance?
Unless we can live again in the Buddha's time, it is difficult to know their cultural environment (if not impossible). Each person sees the world differently with or without certain knowledge, either from books or from intuition. So what I am saying here is just some personal "opinion" for "brain storming". It serves its purpose if it can lead to a door to a new world.

From what I "see", in Buddha's time, it is common sense for the knowledge of the cycles of death and rebirth, and the concept of kamma. What the Buddha did with his superior knowledge is how exactly kamma works in the cycles of death and rebirth. I think only the power of dukkha (sickness, old age, death and an ascetic), can make him forsake a normal life to go beyond his limit. What else can make a man give up his life for?

Seeking deathless is common at the Buddha's time as well. As you can sense it from numerous samana monks at that time. "Actually", this samana culture and their practices(for them, striving for moksha, liberation from cycles of death and rebirth, can only be obtained though superior knowledge), stretch back to thousands of years with much proof, or tens of thousands years without much proof but with certain intuitive knowledge. You may need anthropological study if you want to go further of this study. Study of mythology can also help to understand their mentality of the Buddha's time. Hope this can help.
All Our Practice Efforts, Directed to the Cessation of the Taints. - vimutta.ca

chownah
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by chownah » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:02 am

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:04 pm
chownah wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:55 pm
The buddha said that he only taught the end of suffering/stress.....all this stuff you are spinning has to do with you and your views and not with what the buddha said that he taught.

Also, what he taught does seem to have implications beyond just the end of suffering/stress....but what actually lies in that "beyond" is not taught by the buddha and is only a fabricated construal made by each of us who see somthing "beyond".

The buddha also taught that all views are to be abandoned....but remember he is only teaching this in the context of the end of suffering/stress....you probably think he is talking about something which lies beyond the teaching of the end of sufferieng/stress....that is you fabricated construal...
chownah
Your bias, in my opinion, is that you are presenting the negative side of the goal "ending suffering" what you seem to overlook is the positive side:
Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: 'This is the noble truth of stress.' Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: 'This noble truth of stress is to be comprehended.' Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before:' This noble truth of stress has been comprehended.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
First you try to spin the buddhas teachings into a search for some kind of ultimate truth even though he declared outright that he only taught the end of suffering/stress (remember the leaves in the buddha's hand compared to the leaves in the forest?) and now you are trying to spin what I said into some kind of negative commentary.....there is nothing negative in what I have said....the end of suffering/stress is a positive thing....I REALLY don't know where you get the idea that I am presenting some negative side!

edit: in the excerpt you present all these things that arose are about the noble truth of suffering/stress....are you going to tell the buddha that his bias is that he is presenting the negative side of the goal?
chownah

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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:48 am

chownah wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:02 am
First you try to spin the buddhas teachings into a search for some kind of ultimate truth even though he declared outright that he only taught the end of suffering/stress (remember the leaves in the buddha's hand compared to the leaves in the forest?) and now you are trying to spin what I said into some kind of negative commentary.....there is nothing negative in what I have said....the end of suffering/stress is a positive thing....I REALLY don't know where you get the idea that I am presenting some negative side!

edit: in the excerpt you present all these things that arose are about the noble truth of suffering/stress....are you going to tell the buddha that his bias is that he is presenting the negative side of the goal?
chownah
The Buddha is described as the perfect one, but perfect in what sense? surely, he is not perfect in his body nor in his status. He is perfect in his knowledge. One of the translations of the word "wise" is a lover of truth.

The leaves in the forest analogy does not negate my position, but confirms it. Out of the realm of all possibilities, the Buddha decided to teach suffering as the entry point to higher truths. If you look at Taoism for example, there is more emphasis on living in harmony with nature to attain wisdom. The end of suffering seem to be a mere by-product of wisdom.

Again, if its all about ending suffering that is worth pursuing, then we should envy stones because they don't suffer.

The inability to see how reducing everything to suffering is excessive is astonishing to me. Evidently, there is more to life than suffering, and yet, being encouraged to see/interpret things in terms of suffering must serve a purpose. The purpose is to know how things came to be, or seeing things as they are (true knowledge).

This method (reducing things to suffering) is indeed effective, but acknowledging it as a mere method can open new doors for us, similar to Ven. bkmudita comment about mythology. I also remember Ven. Sujato mentioning once that seeing things as symbols and myths can deepen our understanding.

Having suffering as the glasses we wear to interpret everything is a choice, but acknowledging it as such might help us use it more skillfully.
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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Alīno
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Alīno » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:46 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:42 pm

And yet, the Buddha's emphasis on suffering makes his teachings (assumingly) superior to other methods/ways of investigating the truth.

Why and how?
Hello,

Why:
It is superior because it's shows how much any kind of being is dukkha.

How:
We are not aware of the weight and dukkha that our khandhas exerce on our minds, only by realising the lightness of Unburdened mind we understand what it means "birth is dukkha". 5 khandhas is a burden, 5 focuses of identity is burden, and only Buddha shows how to overcome it perfectly, without residue.

I don't know if it what your question was about?
Upāsaka Alīno - free from attachement and desire, undettered, one who perseveres, one who never gives up..._/\_

chownah
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by chownah » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:51 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:48 am
, the Buddha decided to teach suffering as the entry point to higher truths.
You keep trying to spin what the buddha taught and which he declared explicitly into something else....into something you imagine he was teaching....

The buddha declared that he only taught the end of suffering. Form his very beginning, when he was still living as a prince in a palace, he was struck with the idea of finding out why people suffered so much and how suffering could be ended....he decided to teach the end of suffering because that was what he saw as his lifes goal even before he went into homelessness.....he evaluated the teachings of both of the teachers who taught (that are mentioned in the suttas) to see if they provided the end of suffering and declared that they did not....so he went on alone.....it is not like the buddha said "I want to teach a higher truth and I'll do it by focusing on suffering....far from it...if anything that is backwards....it would be better to construe that he said "I want to find why people suffer and how suffering can be ended" and then realize that if YOU see some higher truth in his teachings then it is your construal and not his....there is nothing the buddha said that indicates that he was wanting to teach a "higher truth"...
chownah

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Will
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Will » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:02 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:11 pm

OK, so why and how stress [or suffering] is the best way to reach certainty or truth?
Because humans are so body fixated: We know pain hurts, that the pain has cause(s), there are healing regimens to reduce the pain, and finally the pain is gone.

These four truths were also in the air of ancient India anyway. Both Yoga & Sankhya taught them, so they were familiar to Indians.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:38 pm

Nwad wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:46 pm
Why:
It is superior because it's shows how much any kind of being is dukkha.
Hello Nwad,

Is a stone, by being free from Dukkha, superior to a human being who is vulnerable to dukkha? if not, why not?

We are not aware of the weight and dukkha that our khandhas exerce on our minds, only by realising the lightness of Unburdened mind we understand what it means "birth is dukkha". 5 khandhas is a burden, 5 focuses of identity is burden, and only Buddha shows how to overcome it perfectly, without residue.
The vast majority of people do not see birth as an event to regret, but to celebrate. If the 5 Khandhas are purely dukkha, you would not be relying on them to make conclusions about them and about the Buddha's teachings.

I think the structure of the average human being, due to both biological and environmental factors, made his relationship with time off-balance which manifests itself as suffering. This in itself, however, does not warrant reducing everything to suffering (if the word suffering is interpreted literally).

Reducing everything to suffering for an independent/objective observer seems to be excessive, unless it serves a purpose. If you compare a serious practitioner with an average human being, you would see that reducing or eliminating suffering is not the only motive in their minds, evident by the lengths and the hardships they willingly go into in order to attain the goal.

The trade-off between short term pleasure and long term well-being is not as straightforward as it seems to be. Considering the rarity of enlightenment, if ending suffering is the only motive, i don't see why and how Buddhism is the safest bet.

Please note that acknowledging impermanence does not necessarily lead you to Buddhism. Buddhism uses impermanence to justify its methods, which makes the fact that impermanence can be used to justify almost anything so easily overlooked.

Unless impermanence is linked to unreliability of knowledge, i don't see how following the lord Buddha would make any sense or superior to other modes of existence.

Peace
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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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:47 pm

chownah wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:51 pm
You keep trying to spin what the buddha taught and which he declared explicitly into something else....into something you imagine he was teaching....

The buddha declared that he only taught the end of suffering. Form his very beginning, when he was still living as a prince in a palace, he was struck with the idea of finding out why people suffered so much and how suffering could be ended....he decided to teach the end of suffering because that was what he saw as his lifes goal even before he went into homelessness.....he evaluated the teachings of both of the teachers who taught (that are mentioned in the suttas) to see if they provided the end of suffering and declared that they did not....so he went on alone.....it is not like the buddha said "I want to teach a higher truth and I'll do it by focusing on suffering....far from it...if anything that is backwards....it would be better to construe that he said "I want to find why people suffer and how suffering can be ended" and then realize that if YOU see some higher truth in his teachings then it is your construal and not his....there is nothing the buddha said that indicates that he was wanting to teach a "higher truth"...
chownah
Your input is inline with one of the possible interpretations i provided, which is the Buddha's journey (or bias) seeking answers in relation to suffering. The striking similarities between the Buddha's story and that of Mahavira shows that this line of thinking (or approach) was prominent in India at the time, similar to what Ven bkmudita and Will have indicated.
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.

binocular
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:56 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:38 pm
Is a stone, by being free from Dukkha, superior to a human being who is vulnerable to dukkha? if not, why not?
Doesn't apply. Stones don't suffer and can't suffer.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:56 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:10 pm
I don't know if you agree, but the end of suffering is done through reaching certainty (ignorance being the root cause).
In the suttas, ignorance refers specifically to ignorance of the Four Noble Truths; not some general or other ignorance.

Certainty, in this context, refers to certainty in terms of the Four Noble Truths, not some other certainty (not certainty about the existence of God, or the roundness of the planet Earth etc.).
To frame the question differently, why and how suffering is the necessary starting point to reach certainty as opposite to other starting points?
Suffering is the only relevant problem. One, which, when solved, makes all other problems become irrelvant.
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?
Perhaps there are Buddhist traditions where the issue is formulated like this (maybe some modern Zen or individual teachers?), but not in Theravada.
Bundokji wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:13 pm
The end of suffering seem to be a by-product of superior knowledge (certainty).
This is how some Western philosophers might formulate it, maybe some Hindu swamis, also some Abrahamists.
In general, it indeed seems that if one were to figure out "how things really are", then one also wouldn't suffer -- this seems to be the commonsensical view.

But I'm not sure that this is how the Buddha layed out his teachings after he became enlightened. Nor is it how we are supposed to approach them.
Rather, the salient point is that suffering is the only relevant problem, the only problem worth solving, the only problem worth focusing on.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:00 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:56 pm
Doesn't apply. Stones don't suffer and can't suffer.
Indeed. If the only criteria as to why the Buddha's teachings are superior is ending suffering, then stones would be superior to the average human being by virtue of what you mentioned: they don't suffer and can't suffer.
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 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:13 pm

If you want to think that stones are better than humans that's ok with me.....where does it get you?....where do you go with this as a starting point?....but....don't try to make believe that this is what the buddha taught or the message he intended you to receive.
chownah

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Bundokji
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Re: Suffering as a gateway to the truth

Post by Bundokji » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:32 pm

binocular wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:56 pm
In the suttas, ignorance refers specifically to ignorance of the Four Noble Truths; not some general or other ignorance.
Certainty, in this context, refers to certainty in terms of the Four Noble Truths, not some other certainty (not certainty about the existence of God, or the roundness of the planet Earth etc.)./quote]

Do the four noble truths and the three marks of existence exclude anything? if so, please provide examples.

Even reducing the world to whatever is experienced by the six senses, while excessive, seem to be serving the same purpose.

Even the idea of god (and its irrelevance through the poisoned arrow analogy) is seen through the lenses/the glasses of suffering.

Again, is it a mere obsession? or to serve a purpose? and if there is purpose, what is it? If the purpose if only ending suffering, we would have looked forward to be a stone in the same way we seek Arahantship. Both, as you indicated in another post, do not suffer and do not have the ability to suffer. So, why one, but not the other?
Suffering is the only relevant problem. One, which, when solved, makes all other problems become irrelvant.
But suffering is an outcome, but purposely presented as "the problem" (the first noble truth). Why ignorance is not "the problem"?
But I'm not sure that this is how the Buddha layed out his teachings after he became enlightened. Nor is it how we are supposed to approach them.
Rather, the salient point is that suffering is the only relevant problem, the only problem worth solving, the only problem worth focusing on.
But we are also taught that the way we formulate/fabricate things is dependently originated and therefore not reliable, impermanent and not self.
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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