Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

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greenjuice
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Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:07 pm

In Salla Sutta Buddha says that when an uninstructed person feels physical pain they are repulsed (patighava) by it and thereby also feel mental pain, they feel two pains, whereas an instructed person when they feel physical pain they just feel physical pain and no additional mental pain, they feel just one pain instead of two.

Suttas and the Commentaries when they talks about dukkha they usually frame it not in psychology, but in metaphysics and ontology - renounce cravings and desires, achieve nibbana, escape samsara, and there's the solution to dukkha. When they talk about the happiness of the laypeople, they give advice about having good relations with people, enjoying wealth prudently, and being moral so as to not end up in the lower realms, but there is rarely psychological advice. This from the Salla Sutta is actually a good one, if understood as advice, you can escape the mental pain if you don't react with patigha to negative stimuli.

(This passage opens a second question, about sukkha) Another thing that can maybe be understood as psychological advice for laypeople is SN 42.12 and MN 101 where Buddha positively speaks of laypeople enjoying in pleasures while not being infatuated with them (SN 42.12 says untied, uninfatuated, unattached agadhito amucchito anajjhopanno, MN 101 says anadhimucchito uninfatuated). Actually Salla Sutta also talks about pleasure, saying how an uninstructed person tries to escape dukkha by rejoicing (abhinandati) in pleasure, and then feels pleasure as if was if joined (sannutto) with it, whereas the instructed person doesn't rejoice (nabhinandati) in pleasure, and feels it as if not joined (visannutto) with it. I want to make another connection now here, which I also find interesting. In the Four noble truths, when tanha as the cause of dukkha is talked about, rejoicing (nandi) is also mentioned (some translations translate nandi raga as two separate things, like relishing and desire, some as one thing, like passionate desire*). There is even a separate Sutta, the Abhinanda Sutta, which just connects abhinanda and dukkha. This will be my second question.

So, I have two questions:

1 What psychological advice (for laypeople) do the Suttas and Commentaries give regarding avoiding mental dukkha?

2 Are there any analyses in the Suttas and/or Commenetaries about connection of abhinanda /nandi, craving (tanha) and desire (raga), dukkha, and uninfatuated amucchito /anadhimucchito enjoment of pleasure?

* 3 A third, small question could be which one of those two translations is correct.
Last edited by greenjuice on Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (for laypeople)

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:55 am

greenjuice wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:07 pm
Suttas.. when they talks about dukkha they usually frame it not in psychology, but in metaphysics and ontology...
hi GJ. It sounds like you doing the above "framing" rather than the suttas.
greenjuice wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:07 pm
What psychological (for laypeople) do the Suttas... give regarding avoiding mental dukkha?
I think the best example is Nakulapita in SN 22.1 being taught the True Dhamma about avoiding mental dukkha; however he probably received a teaching of the True Dhamma because either: (i) his wife was already a stream-winner (AN 6.16); or (ii) he simply asked the right question in time & place. For me, SN 22.1 is one of the clearest suttas in the Nikayas.

MN 143 is supposedly advice to a layperson but, since the subject of MN 143 was supposedly already a stream-winner, it appears he should have already known the teaching given in MN 143. Also, MN 143 has a rare report of a person returning to earth after death thus appears also questionable here, possibly a later addition to the suttas.

Regards :smile:
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Re: Psychology of dukkha (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:22 am

Sounds metaphysical /ontological, and imo is advice for renunciation, and also, it's not that clear, at least not compared to a similar thing which exists in psychology. In a psychotherapy called Acceptance and commitment therapy one of the two main things they do there is called "cognitive defusion", where one mentally distances oneself basically from the aggregates, from all sensations, feelings, emotions, images, memories, and thoughts, the content of the mind in general, but by noticing a meta-cognitive (part of) oneself, which observes the content of the mind, and which makes choices (both choices which action to take, and choices which mental content to accept and reject; the obvious point of which is that one can then reject the negative content of the mind, ignore it, let it arise and pass away, to use the buddhist phrase, and to focus on the positive content). Although similar to anatta and anicca, it is obviously just similar, and not the same, in fact, it is fundamentally different from the buddhist approach (even if we say that things like manasikara, chanda, adhimokka, and cetana are not within the five aggregates, it's still different). Now, at least for me personally, this non-buddhist framework sounds much more clear and useful for avoiding dukkha, I never found the buddhist framing of anatta to be clear (because it just has a negative part, of saying what it is not the self [and if sankhara-khanda includes manasikara chanda and cetana then certainly i dont find this teaching understandable] whereas eg this psychological approach also has a positive part, saying on what we should focus on as a basic self, and for what purpose), or useful (except for monks).

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (for laypeople)

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:38 am

greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:22 am
Sounds metaphysical /ontological..
When words such as "jati" ("birth") are regarded as "physical", yes, the whole of the Dhamma sounds metaphysical & ontological... But if "birth" is not regarded as physical, the Dhamma sound psychological... Regards
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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:42 pm

I suppose you are referring to the thoughts-interpretation of dependent origination, but even if we use that interpretation, the advice is renunciation, and thus not really suitable fore the kamabhogi upasakas.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by DooDoot » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:53 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:42 pm
but even if we use that interpretation, the advice is renunciation, and thus not really suitable fore the kamabhogi upasakas.
Yes. The suttas appear to not offer much advice to laypeople about the ultimate ending of dukkha without remainder. Instead, they appear to teach rebirth in heaven or hell for deeds. For example, the sutta MN 60 is for householders or laypeople and is largely not teaching dukkha nirodha.

However, this can reduce or end dukkha. If you believe your loved one or yourself will be reborn in heaven or reborn again as human then this should mitigate or lessen your suffering. Surely, this is why the teaching of 'rebirth', 'reincarnation', 'heaven', 'eternal life', etc, are so popular in religion. :smile:
The ascetics and brahmans thus ministered to as the Zenith by a householder show their compassion towards him in six ways:

(i) they restrain him from evil,
(ii) they persuade him to do good,
(iii) they love him with a kind heart,
(iv) they make him hear what he has not heard,
(v) they clarify what he has already heard,
(vi) they point out the path to a heavenly state.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/tip ... .nara.html
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.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:37 pm

That is useful, yes.

Ok, so, regarding the topic, another question, i think i remember that in various Suttas Buddha talks about the relationship a monk (or an arahat) has towards pleasure and pain, maybe some of those moments (specifically the parts which talk about dealing with pain /dukkha) could also be of help to khamabhogi upasakas to deal with dukkha.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by binocular » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:08 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:42 pm
I suppose you are referring to the thoughts-interpretation of dependent origination, but even if we use that interpretation, the advice is renunciation, and thus not really suitable fore the kamabhogi upasakas.
1. Does being a lay person automatically make one a kamabhogi? Just because one is a lay person, does that mean that one is committed to sense enjoyment? Conversely, being a monk doesn't automatically make a person not committed to sense enjoyment.

2. Someone committed to sense enjoyment isn't going to concern themselves much with mental dukkha; it's not clear whether such a person will even notice it. Such a person already reaches for the solution as they see it: sense enjoyment.


If one cannot cheer oneself up the way "karmis" do, then there aren't all that many options to consider: 1. one hasn't tried hard enough to enjoy sense "enjoyment"; 2. there is something wrong with one's brain or some such; 3. one isn't really much of a karmi anyway/anymore.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:06 am

binocular wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:08 pm
1. Does being a lay person automatically make one a kamabhogi? Just because one is a lay person, does that mean that one is committed to sense enjoyment? Conversely, being a monk doesn't automatically make a person not committed to sense enjoyment.
A layperson is either a kamabhogi or a semi-khamabhogi if he aims to become / has become a sotapanna. On the other hand, the point of monkhood is renunciation.
2. Someone committed to sense enjoyment isn't going to concern themselves much with mental dukkha; it's not clear whether such a person will even notice it. Such a person already reaches for the solution as they see it: sense enjoyment.
Phrasing it that way misrepresents the case, at least according to the way language is normally used. No one is committed simply to sense enjoyment, in the sense of wanting just food, psychical comfort, sex, music, perfumes, and watching art and entertainment, most of one's pleasures are of not sensual in that sense, but are things like mental perceptions of security, being well-off, being accepted, friendship, family, helping others, pride over a job well done, reading a good novel, etc, and it would be unfitting to phrase that simply as 'committment to sense enjoyments' because that implies the former. And also, there's psychotherapy, which works to increase happiness, and some of such advice are found in the Suttas, eg one of the core one's is the notion found in Salla Sutta that one can totally avoid mental dukkha (totally unrelated to whether one is a renunciate or someone who seeks to maximize life's happiness and/or sense pleasures).

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by binocular » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:36 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:06 am
Phrasing it that way misrepresents the case, at least according to the way language is normally used. No one is committed simply to sense enjoyment, in the sense of wanting just food, psychical comfort, sex, music, perfumes, and watching art and entertainment, most of one's pleasures are of not sensual in that sense, but are things like mental perceptions of security, being well-off, being accepted, friendship, family, helping others, pride over a job well done, reading a good novel, etc, and it would be unfitting to phrase that simply as 'committment to sense enjoyments' because that implies the former.
That is still sense enjoyment, just of more sophisticated variations. We are on a Buddhist forum, so "the way language is normally used" here differs in some aspects from the way language is normally used in non-Buddhist settings.
And also, there's psychotherapy, which works to increase happiness,
Psychotherapy can only work to increase worldly, ie. sensual happiness, whether it is happiness of the coarse or sophisticated variations. Freedom from suffering as understood in the Buddhist sense is outside of the purview of psychotherapy.
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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:10 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:36 pm
Psychotherapy can only work to increase worldly, ie. sensual happiness, whether it is happiness of the coarse or sophisticated variations. Freedom from suffering as understood in the Buddhist sense is outside of the purview of psychotherapy.
One, worldly happiness can also be mental, not just sensual. Two, Buddha gave psychotherapy advice to lay people. The point of this topic i opened is to see if people remember reading Suttas containing such advice. If you disagree with the topic you don't need to comment.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by DooDoot » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:48 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:10 pm
Buddha gave psychotherapy advice to lay people.
My impression is psychotherapy was created by atheist Torah-rejecting Jews, such as Freud, who sought freedom from the strict moral norms of their cultural religion and also sought a fame & money making cure for psychological ailments caused (unknowingly) from the sexual uninhibitedness they also influenced. My impression is the Buddha gave moral advice to lay people. If morality did not lead to a certain desirable degree of mental well-being, obviously, the Buddha would not have praised it. What actually is psychotherapy about, apart from people mostly seeking to overcome issues & suffering from their former & current family, marital or sexual relationships? :shrug: It appears Freud's theories and the investigations of his disciples, such as Jung, often largely revolved around sex.
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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:48 pm
My impression is psychotherapy was created by atheist Torah-rejecting Jews, such as Freud
Well, this is a weird to say. Especially bc it isn't true, most of pioneers of modern psychology and psychotherapy weren't Jews; also, psychology and psychotherapy academics don't consider Freud as the most person in modern psychology; also psychotherapy as a science has abandoned Freud as proto-scientific, largely pseudo-scientific, and often counter-productive and harmful for psychotherapy goals. Also psychotherapy existed before modern types, in Antiquity famously in Epicureanism and Stoicism, and in Middle Ages among islamic doctors.
It appears Freud's theories and the investigations of his disciples, such as Jung, often largely revolved around sex.
Freud did put sex where it didn't belong, although his notions of libido and eros are much, much wider than that (libido including eg hunger, and eros including eg a desire to cooperate instead of compete).
What actually is psychotherapy about, apart from people mostly seeking to overcome issues & suffering from their former & current family, marital or sexual relationships?
About processing trauma, dealing with depression, anxiety, with bad habits, sleep disorders, mood disorders, various mental afflictions ailing people who don't have their various human needs (which were eg systematized into a eight-tier pyramid by a famous psychologist called Maslow) satisfied in a sufficient degree, etc. You seem to be very dismissive, and yet very uninformed about psychotherapy. And that show of fixation of Jews just makes it even worse.
My impression is the Buddha gave moral advice to lay people.
This is simply false. Dighajanu Sutta and Anana Sutta are obvious, but Salla Sutta is a psychotherapy sutta par excellence, the best one i've come across so far, hopefully (with assistance from others) i will across some others too.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:47 am

greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
Also psychotherapy existed before modern types, in Antiquity famously in Epicureanism and Stoicism, and in Middle Ages among islamic doctors.
Sounds like a gross generalisation.
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
About processing trauma
from dysfunctional relationships....
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
dealing with depression
from dysfunctional relationships....
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
anxiety
from dysfunctional relationships....
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
with bad habits, sleep disorders, mood disorders, various mental afflictions ailing people who don't have their various human needs
from wrong views about morality....
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
(which were eg systematized into a eight-tier pyramid by a famous psychologist called Maslow)
which are all fulfilled via following the moral teachings of religion
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
You seem to be very dismissive, and yet very uninformed about psychotherapy.
yes, very dismissive. i have helped people in my life who gained zero help from spending lots of $$$ on unhelpful psychotherapists
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
And that show of fixation of Jews just makes it even worse.
not at all. Jews have been very successful in popularising things, due to influence in academics & media. for example, Edward Bernays was Freud's nephew. the fact you have reacted as you have shows how you have been influenced... such as by the book The Authoritarian Personality
This is simply false.
Not false. The Buddha generally taught morality to laypeople. DN 31 says the primary duty of a monk is the instruct morality to laypeople
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
Dighajanu Sutta and Anana Sutta are obvious
These are about morality
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:43 am
, but Salla Sutta is a psychotherapy sutta par excellence, the best one i've come across so far, hopefully (with assistance from others) i will across some others too.
the Salla Sutta will not generally help the type of people who seek psychotherapy. plus the Salla Sutta was not taught to lay people. i imagine a psychotherapist practising based on the Salla Sutta would be a charlatan. people with mental issues due to the need for attachment to others will generally not be able to practise non-attachment towards feelings (vedana). the fact that Maslow did not include "non-attachment" in his hierarchy of needs appears to show the Salla Sutta is not relevant to your extolling of Maslow

it seems your views are based in moral deficiency; i.e., dismissing the foundational role morality has in the Buddhist teachings. instead of focusing on the Sala Sutta, MN 6 is better:
If a bhikkhu should wish: ‘May I, by realising for myself with direct knowledge, here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints,’ let him fulfil the precepts,

https://suttacentral.net/mn6/en/bodhi
a person that does not fulfil the moral precepts cannot practise the Sala Sutta. therefore, a psychotherapist charging clients money, attempting to have them "feel feelings without attachment", appears to be breaking the moral precepts. making money from vague difficult mystical thing such as Mark Epstein's "Thoughts Without A Thinker"

:smile:
Mark Epstein (born 1953) is an American author and psychotherapist, integrating both Buddha's and Sigmund Freud's approaches to trauma, who writes about their interplay. In his most recent book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, he interprets the Buddha's spiritual journey as grounded in Buddha's personal childhood trauma.... Epstein has been a practicing Buddhist since his early twenties, when he traveled to Ajahn Chah's forest Buddhist monastery near Bangkok, Thailand together with his American Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Richard Alpert...
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.

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Re: Psychology of dukkha (and sukkha) (for laypeople)

Post by greenjuice » Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:03 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:47 am
Sounds like a gross generalisation.
If facts are 'gross generalizations', sure.
from dysfunctional relationships
Among other stuff. And there is a lot of other stuff, like having some sort of tragic events, of which there are many types.
from dysfunctional relationships
from dysfunctional relationships
from dysfunctional relationships
from wrong views about morality....
So, you're not only dismissive and uninformed about psychotherapy, but also about life in general. I hate to be the one to tell you, but that will make any attempt on your part to have metta and karuna a empty lip service.
which are all fulfilled via following the moral teachings of religion
If you were to do a simple googling to see what those eight tiers were, you wouldn't type this nonsense.
yes, very dismissive. i have helped people in my life who gained zero help from spending lots of $$$ on unhelpful psychotherapists
Sorry for not believing you.
Jews have been very successful in popularising things, due to influence in academics & media.
And he just keeps it making it worse.
Last edited by retrofuturist on Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Personal attacks removed

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