RyanO

Michael Winn's Take On Buddhism's Four Noble Truths

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Considering the recent Buddhist discussions we've been having, I thought I'd share a post from Michael Winn about a new (tongue-in-cheek) religion he's starting: Joyism.

 

From: http://forum.healingdao.com/philosophy/message/19617/

"The Four Transcendent Noble Truths:

 

1. The nature of human life is to feel Joyous.

 

2. Joy arises from our power to love existing life and create new life.

 

3. Joy diminishes when suffering is seen as the meaning of life. Embrace all suffering as a stimulus to our discovering and creating new forms of Joy.

 

4. The Way to Deeper Joy is to unfold our unique spiritual virtues, and share them with others.

 

 

These are the tenets of a new religion called Joyism, that got birthed while swimming in the ocean today. You are welcome to add your own joyful insights and become one of its founding members.

 

Oceanic Messengers of Joy take as their first task encouraging others to discover the joy they derives from currently believing that suffering is the meaning of life.

 

Joyfully yours,

Michael"

 

This is posted with permission from a discussion I had with him. He maintains that the thought-form "Life is suffering" is harmful and creates such a reality, and I agree. Thoughts?

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Oh yes I do!

 

Not that I'll sign up for anyone's religion because I agree though...

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This is posted with permission from a discussion I had with him. He maintains that the thought-form "Life is suffering" is harmful and creates such a reality, and I agree. Thoughts?

 

You've obviously never seen a Buddhist master in action if you agree with that. Does the Dalai Lama look gloomy to you? Ever?

 

Anyway, "life is suffering" is a basic observation of human existence. If it wasn't suffering then everyone would already be joyous and fulfilled, but since it is suffering we have to take steps to create joy in our lives. Even if joy is a parcel of our true nature, it isn't present until you cultivate it.

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He maintains that the thought-form "Life is suffering" is harmful and creates such a reality, and I agree. Thoughts?

 

Well, life is suffering, period. He will grasp that in another lifetime.

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You've obviously never seen a Buddhist master in action if you agree with that. Does the Dalai Lama look gloomy to you? Ever?

 

Anyway, "life is suffering" is a basic observation of human existence. If it wasn't suffering then everyone would already be joyous and fulfilled, but since it is suffering we have to take steps to create joy in our lives. Even if joy is a parcel of our true nature, it isn't present until you cultivate it.

 

Well that's a possible interpretation.

 

It's also possible that the Lama and other Buddhist masters appear happy in spite of this teaching.

 

Buddhism is huge, and since Bliss is in our Nature it's only natural that it would arise spontaneously. But if you look at the Theravadans, they don't seem overly joyful, more calm-like. This is because they follow a more orthodox way.

 

The issue is less about the fact of suffering, of course there is suffering, but more on emphasis. Cultivating joy means getting beyond 'Life is Suffering' and if that's your interpretation, then I like that approach.

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Well, life is suffering, period. He will grasp that in another lifetime.

 

Shoot. Guess you're more advanced than me. How many more lifetimes will it take? Hopefully many, I love to play!

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Well that's a possible interpretation.

 

It's not a possible interpretation, it's the intended interpretation. Though of course others can have different interpretations, but the Buddha never meant the 4 noble truths to create a gloomy despair in people... on the contrary the purpose was always to end suffering and attain peace.

 

It's also possible that the Lama and other Buddhist masters appear happy in spite of this teaching.

 

They appear happy because they are no longer suffering. "Life is suffering" is merely the first noble truth, don't forget about the rest... There is a solution to the problem by developing wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental development; the goal is peace. All of this begins though with accepting that life is suffering. This has a pragmatic purpose. Mostly everyone denies this because they believe that there is good and there is bad, they strive for the good (pleasureful) and constantly are disappointed because there is never satisfaction; pleasure is always fleeting. You can only begin the path once you accept that you cannot find happiness by seeking it, you must give up the search entirely and by this you realize that "bliss is in our nature." as you said.

Edited by mikaelz

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It's not a possible interpretation, it's the intended interpretation. Though of course others can have different interpretations, but the Buddha never meant the 4 noble truths to create a gloomy despair in people... on the contrary the purpose was always to end suffering and attain peace.

 

 

 

They appear happy because they are no longer suffering. "Life is suffering" is merely the first noble truth, don't forget about the rest... There is a solution to the problem by developing wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental development; the goal is peace. All of this begins though with accepting that life is suffering. This has a pragmatic purpose. Mostly everyone denies this because they believe that there is good and there is bad, they strive for the good (pleasureful) and constantly are disappointed because there is never satisfaction; pleasure is always fleeting. You can only begin the path once you accept that you cannot find happiness by seeking it, you must give up the search entirely and by this you realize that "bliss is in our nature." as you said.

 

I understand what you're saying, but I still think that one consequence of the First Noble Truth when taken as Gospel is the inability to transcend it.

 

I'm only familiar with the English translation. To say "Life Is Suffering" is utterly life-denying. Being skilled in Happiness and detachment is another matter altogether. Maybe a better way of phrasing your interpretation "Life Has Suffering" or even just "There Is Suffering". Life isn't suffering, wanting reality to be other than it is is suffering.

 

But the way it's classically stated, then why did the Cosmos form itself in the first place? Is Life a mistake? Did Reality screw up? I don't buy it.

Edited by RyanO

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Actually, this is a mistake. The first Noble Truth is the existence of suffering, not that all life is suffering. If you look closely at the Pali suttas, specific things cause suffering, such as being with what you don't like and being apart from what you like.

 

There is suffering. That is the first Noble Truth. Why is there suffering? Craving. Tanha, the thirst. Ending this ends suffering. To do this, you follow the eightfold path. That is the Buddha's teaching. Nothing gloomy here.

 

If you're happy all the time, well then the Buddha has nothing to say. The Buddha's teaching is for those who experience suffering.

 

On a side note, I would note that when Michael Winn's wife died, he posted on his website that he wasn't sad, because he felt he had done some energy exercise allowing him to subsume her or something. That struck me as sad. Of course you'll be sad when your wife dies. It hurts. Ignoring that, or repressing that, or focusing on joy is simply not being realistic.

 

 

Considering the recent Buddhist discussions we've been having, I thought I'd share a post from Michael Winn about a new (tongue-in-cheek) religion he's starting: Joyism.

 

From: http://forum.healingdao.com/philosophy/message/19617/

"The Four Transcendent Noble Truths:

 

1. The nature of human life is to feel Joyous.

 

2. Joy arises from our power to love existing life and create new life.

 

3. Joy diminishes when suffering is seen as the meaning of life. Embrace all suffering as a stimulus to our discovering and creating new forms of Joy.

 

4. The Way to Deeper Joy is to unfold our unique spiritual virtues, and share them with others.

 

 

These are the tenets of a new religion called Joyism, that got birthed while swimming in the ocean today. You are welcome to add your own joyful insights and become one of its founding members.

 

Oceanic Messengers of Joy take as their first task encouraging others to discover the joy they derives from currently believing that suffering is the meaning of life.

 

Joyfully yours,

Michael"

 

This is posted with permission from a discussion I had with him. He maintains that the thought-form "Life is suffering" is harmful and creates such a reality, and I agree. Thoughts?

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Actually, this is a mistake. The first Noble Truth is the existence of suffering, not that all life is suffering. If you look closely at the Pali suttas, specific things cause suffering, such as being with what you don't like and being apart from what you like.

 

There is suffering. That is the first Noble Truth. Why is there suffering? Craving. Tanha, the thirst. Ending this ends suffering. To do this, you follow the eightfold path. That is the Buddha's teaching. Nothing gloomy here.

 

If you're happy all the time, well then the Buddha has nothing to say. The Buddha's teaching is for those who experience suffering.

 

On a side note, I would note that when Michael Winn's wife died, he posted on his website that he wasn't sad, because he felt he had done some energy exercise allowing him to subsume her or something. That struck me as sad. Of course you'll be sad when your wife dies. It hurts. Ignoring that, or repressing that, or focusing on joy is simply not being realistic.

 

Fine. But an entire religion shouldn't be based around the fact that there is suffering, especially one that says that unless you accept that fact you will be trapped in Samsara forever until you do. There is joy too.

 

As for Winn's experience, I can't speak for him, but I'm familiar with what you're talking about. His experience doesn't mean he didn't go through a grieving period, I pretty sure he did and honored the loss for what it was. But again I can't speak for him.

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I think part of the issue is the Buddhabums here tend to focus more on the wisdom of emptiness side of Buddhism and less on the love and compassion side of Buddhism. What happens is that we get a stilted, one sided view of the dharma.

 

Joy is very important in Buddhism--- it is a factor of the jhanas and also one of the seven factors of enlightenment. Look at all the statutes of Buddha: there is a smile.

 

According to the Buddha, all things are impermanent. That means, they cannot last. How could the Buddha use joy as the basis of his teaching when it cannot last? It would be a different teaching. Suffering, however, can be ended. Things cannot last forever, but they can vanish forever.

 

Fine. But an entire religion shouldn't be based around the fact that there is suffering, especially one that says that unless you accept that fact you will be trapped in Samsara forever until you do. There is joy too.

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This is posted with permission from a discussion I had with him. He maintains that the thought-form "Life is suffering" is harmful and creates such a reality, and I agree. Thoughts?

 

This is a misunderstanding. This is an out of context projected idea and is not the meaning of the 1st noble truth, which the Buddha puts into context if you actually read his teachings. =)

 

It's a relative statement meaning that life misunderstood leads to unconscious recycling into many other states of consciousness other than being human, either higher or lower, oscillating up and down, back and forth. The real meaning is so vast and deep that to see it merely on face value will lead to unfortunate mis-understandings of the Dharma.

 

Life is not inherently suffering. Phenomena is actually inherently pure and liberated. What the Buddha is trying to tell people is that life at face value can bring no long term satisfaction, only fluctuation between painful and pleasurable circumstances. Where we try to avoid the painful and desire the pleasurable without contemplation, going from birth, to old age, to death without any insight is just meaningless if the deeper truths are not unraveled. Of course, most people are satisfied with fulfilling the status quo and just give in to the idea that these fluctuations are just inevitable and not worth examining more deeply, thus they take rebirth after rebirth for eons into favorable and unfavorable conditions without wisdom of the underlying causes.

 

For a Buddha, Samsara is Nirvana. Life is bliss, completely unblemished freedom. As the Buddhas first statement after he gets up from under the Bodhi tree. "This mind is free and uncompounded since beginningless time"

 

So, to take the Buddhas teachings out of context is like picking up a book and judging it simply based upon what the spine reads, or even what one critic says about a movie doesn't make it so, especially if that critic only saw the previews... eh?

 

In Buddhism, suffering is not the meaning of life... and the Buddha is also talking more about psychological suffering and it's nature.

 

The 4 noble truths are as such...

 

#1 There is suffering (dukkha).

#2 There is a cause of suffering (craving).

#3 There is the cessation of suffering (nirvana).

#4 There is the eightfold path leading to the cessation of suffering.

 

Your friend seems nice and well meaning, but he doesn't understand the Buddhas intention very well.

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This is a misunderstanding. This is an out of context projected idea and is not the meaning of the 1st noble truth, which the Buddha puts into context if you actually read his teachings. =)

 

It's a relative statement meaning that life misunderstood leads to unconscious recycling into many other states of consciousness other than being human, either higher or lower, oscillating up and down, back and forth. The real meaning is so vast and deep that to see it merely on face value will lead to unfortunate mis-understandings of the Dharma.

 

Life is not inherently suffering. Phenomena is actually inherently pure and liberated. What the Buddha is trying to tell people is that life at face value can bring no long term satisfaction, only fluctuation between painful and pleasurable circumstances. Where we try to avoid the painful and desire the pleasurable without contemplation, going from birth, to old age, to death without any insight is just meaningless if the deeper truths are not unraveled. Of course, most people are satisfied with fulfilling the status quo and just give in to the idea that these fluctuations are just inevitable and not worth examining more deeply, thus they take rebirth after rebirth for eons into favorable and unfavorable conditions without wisdom of the underlying causes.

 

For a Buddha, Samsara is Nirvana. Life is bliss, completely unblemished freedom. As the Buddhas first statement after he gets up from under the Bodhi tree. "This mind is free and uncompounded since beginningless time"

 

So, to take the Buddhas teachings out of context is like picking up a book and judging it simply based upon what the spine reads, or even what one critic says about a movie doesn't make it so, especially if that critic only saw the previews... eh?

 

In Buddhism, suffering is not the meaning of life... and the Buddha is also talking more about psychological suffering and it's nature.

 

The 4 noble truths are as such...

 

#1 There is suffering (dukkha).

#2 There is a cause of suffering (craving).

#3 There is the cessation of suffering (nirvana).

#4 There is the eightfold path leading to the cessation of suffering.

 

Your friend seems nice and well meaning, but he doesn't understand the Buddhas intention very well.

 

Well that's your interpretation of Buddhism, and it's a good one. I appreciate your insistence on not reading things out of context. I will try not to do that.

 

But, not only do I think your interpretation is half the picture, I also think it is not the interpretation of your common religious Buddhist.

 

Your understanding is quite sophisticated, but I think some gymnastics have to be done to get there. To say "Life is not inherently suffering" I'm not sure rings true with an orthodox Buddhist view. If that were true, why would liberation be necessary? Because of psychological pain? Why does this mean that rebirth is bad? Is experience inherently painful?

 

What you seem to be suggesting is freedom from attachment but also appreciation of the moment and what life has to offer. I'm all for that. But that second part (appreciation of life) seems to be missed by a lot of Buddhists, and I think the Noble Truths have a lot to do with that. I don't think they make a good backbone of a complete religion. Perhaps a school of psychotherapy.

 

I'm generalizing, but the Truths present an escape for angst-ridden people to justify their despair rather than get over it and enjoy the good things life has to offer. Just because something won't last doesn't mean it's not worth going for. Perhaps when we die our memories become real experiences to God and last forever (just a thought, I know, I'm clinging haha). The point is, who knows? Why not take a chance on pursuing pleasurable and meaningful experiences?

 

The whole rebirth for eons thing just seems like fear-mongering. A tool to get people to convert. What makes you so sure it's real? Why take the Buddha's word for his metaphysical claims? And make no mistake, Buddhism without metaphysics is psychology. With metaphysics, its nihilistic. My opinion.

 

Still, to be honest I have mad respect for Buddhism and Buddhists. It's one of the most logical and pure religions out there. I wish all the Buddhists who read this the best of luck on their path, and also lots of joy :)

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Well that's your interpretation of Buddhism, and it's a good one. I appreciate your insistence on not reading things out of context. I will try not to do that.

 

But, not only do I think your interpretation is half the picture, I also think it is not the interpretation of your common religious Buddhist.

 

Your understanding is quite sophisticated, but I think some gymnastics have to be done to get there. To say "Life is not inherently suffering" I'm not sure rings true with an orthodox Buddhist view. If that were true, why would liberation be necessary? Because of psychological pain? Why does this mean that rebirth is bad? Is experience inherently painful?

All existence is dissatisfactory if clung to: they arise and pass away. How can something that arise and pass away be ultimately satisfactory? It cannot. You cannot find happiness in what is ultimately unsatisfactory. Even a birth in the deva realm is unsatisfactory since there is death!

 

Therefore, Garab Dorje Rinpoche said that, "Even with 5 Wisdoms, the Buddha was unable to find happiness in Samsara."

 

The Buddha said, ‚ÄúJust as a tiny bit of faeces has a bad smell, so I do not recommend even a tiny bit of existence, not even for so long as a fingersnap‚ÄĚ. (AN 1, 18)

 

However realising Nirvana, the end of suffering, clinging, and ignorance, that is peace, that is the highest bliss. That is ultimately the only 'place' (not a place) that is free of sufferings, the only place you can find true happiness.

 

With wisdom, we see the empty nature of phenomena, which ends all clinging.

Edited by xabir2005

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Well that's your interpretation of Buddhism, and it's a good one. I appreciate your insistence on not reading things out of context. I will try not to do that.

 

But, not only do I think your interpretation is half the picture, I also think it is not the interpretation of your common religious Buddhist.

 

It is in fact the common interpretation of the Vajrayana type Buddhist, as well as Mahayana in general. I've never been limited to the Theravada interpretation, but even the Buddha speaks of Nirvana as being the joy beyond all joys. I'm quite sure that you are not aware of how sophisticated even the Theravada is. Which is not an insult, but rather just that you haven't taken the time to read the texts as they are, or the commentaries by evolved practitioners of the paths.

 

Your understanding is quite sophisticated, but I think some gymnastics have to be done to get there. To say "Life is not inherently suffering" I'm not sure rings true with an orthodox Buddhist view. If that were true, why would liberation be necessary? Because of psychological pain? Why does this mean that rebirth is bad? Is experience inherently painful?

 

Ok, there are a lot of assumptions happening here. I said "unconscious re-birth", or re-birth without awareness and without control is not good or bad, it's just not what a seeker of freedom from "dukkha" would consider optimal. An enlightened being can control their own rebirth and only take birth in a body of being that can practice and express the Dharma and be influenced by evolved practitioners of the dharma. Of course what I said rings true to orthodox Buddhism. The Buddha taught the doctrine of relativity and non-abiding nature of things. So of course he taught that life is not inherently suffering. Thus there are the next 3 noble truths which reveal the relativity of the first noble truth. He also taught in his very first statement to Lord Brahma that mind and phenomena is inherently pure and uncompounded since beginningless time. So of course life is not inherently suffering and this is never taught in orthodoxy. More that suffering is the destiny of all beings who do not understand life. Thus... dukkha is relative and not absolute.

 

What you seem to be suggesting is freedom from attachment but also appreciation of the moment and what life has to offer. I'm all for that. But that second part (appreciation of life) seems to be missed by a lot of Buddhists, and I think the Noble Truths have a lot to do with that. I don't think they make a good backbone of a complete religion. Perhaps a school of psychotherapy.

 

It makes an awesome back bone. Because it includes the 8 fold noble path as well as all that the 8 fold noble path leads to. I think you need a good schooling in what the 4 noble truths mean. Not what you think it means, but what the truths actually mean in elaboration. There are many, many great teachings on the meaning of the 4 noble truths and the 8 fold noble path which is the most beautiful and systematic backbone, like perfectly aligned vertebrae for a beautiful and vast spiritual path and personal psychology.

 

 

I'm generalizing, but the Truths present an escape for angst-ridden people to justify their despair rather than get over it and enjoy the good things life has to offer. Just because something won't last doesn't mean it's not worth going for. Perhaps when we die our memories become real experiences to God and last forever (just a thought, I know, I'm clinging haha). The point is, who knows? Why not take a chance on pursuing pleasurable and meaningful experiences?

 

First of all, to clarify. In Buddhist cosmology, the Gods that teach that they are the soul creators of the universe, of which there are many who teach that they are the one and only... are considered highly powerful, in quantum leaps from the human capacity, but also highly deluded. There is no substratum, or prime mover to the universe. Buddhas teachings are fully Atheist. He said so, and was not just silent on the matter, he was only silent for one instance, but also spoke volumes about this in other instances. There is no God... according to Buddhist philosophy and practice. There are deeply powerful and compassionate beings and some do think they are God due to a deep state of absorption that they identify with, and many of them have started religions here on Earth. There are also very powerful and greedy Gods who have started religions... Buddhism has nothing to do with these paths for the most part.

 

Buddhism doesn't deny pleasurable experiences and in Tantra, we actually like to explore them but also see right through them. Now, if your goal in life is to have more and more pleasurable experiences before death, then your goal is different from that of a Buddhist. Of course as a Buddhist, I go for both, the Buddhist wisdom and the best this world has to offer at the same time. This is why I'm a Vajrayana and Dzogchen practitioner. You have to understand that there are many branches of Buddhism, and at their core, they agree about the relativity of the 1st noble truth, but at the same time, that this relativity will not end even after you extinguish it within yourself, suffering that is, you will still see how others suffer and collect ways to help others free themselves from the first noble truth as well. Even though that noble truth is extinguished in the 3rd noble truth, through the 4th within a Buddha, they still see that for others, the 1st noble truth still sings on. Also, what you're saying about just going a long and enjoying life without knowledge of your future, of how you will die and what realm you will be born into, is considered a form of "dukkha" or unsatisfactoriness to a seeker of the truth. If you are satisfied with just collecting pleasurable experiences, then you don't qualify to be a Buddhist as of yet. Buddhism is not for the suffering and embittered people, it's for those that want to see past the dualities, including the duality of pain and pleasure. It's for those that want to know, directly and experientially the nature of all things and life in the awareness of the truth always. Not for those that want to play in the waves but not go down into the depths of the ocean. Even though, in certain forms of Buddhism, one can do both. You don't have to be a monk to attain liberation. Sometimes a monk even has to stop being a monk to go deeper into the heart of the Buddha.

 

The whole rebirth for eons thing just seems like fear-mongering. A tool to get people to convert. What makes you so sure it's real? Why take the Buddha's word for his metaphysical claims? And make no mistake, Buddhism without metaphysics is psychology. With metaphysics, its nihilistic. My opinion.

 

It's not nihilistic at all! Also... through meditation you have direct experiences of your past lives. As I have seen directly many of my past lives, my faith is based on experience, not blind clinging to doctrine. As the Buddha said himself to not merely believe what he says because he said it, but to explore it and realize it for yourself... directly! Through the practice of meditation and contemplation, there is no other way life can be seen to be the way it is, except through understanding that re-birth is a genuine and experientially true fact of life. How is this Nihilistic? There is no way! Nihilism is actually classified in Buddhism as the idea that what you do will have no consequences and that when you die, that's the end of your mind stream. Buddhism considers that Nihilism. So if you think you only have one life to live? Then I as a Buddhist would call you a Nihilist. A pleasure seeking, materialist, nihilist. A materialist in Buddhism is one who thinks they are nothing more than the physical body and the vision through the 5 senses are the whole truth, thus people like this just want to satisfy their senses only and not look deeper, and are nihilist because they think that their mind will die with their body and brain. Not that you would be considered a bad person, but rather that you are not a seeker of the truth of things and are satisfied with the answers your 5 senses feed you. This isn't a problem if you wish to be this way, and I'm happy to agree to disagree. But, don't think for once that you understand the meaning of the Buddhas teaching of the 4 noble truths and the 8 fold noble path if you haven't embraced it and practiced it deeply.

Still, to be honest I have mad respect for Buddhism and Buddhists. It's one of the most logical and pure religions out there. I wish all the Buddhists who read this the best of luck on their path, and also lots of joy :)

 

By the way... The 3rd Noble truth, which is Nirvana is defined as unsurpassed joy as free from all conditions, even itself. So you should tell your friend this, that Joy is an integral part of the 4 noble truths and is actually a deeper part then the part about suffering. The cessation of suffering is naturally imperturbable bliss! That kind that is far beyond any sense pleasure, or even the various bliss' of meditative absorptions.

 

So, as you can see, you have yet to understand what Orthodox Buddhism teaches. When you see a Theravadin monk looking quite calm and straight faced... you have no idea the ocean of bliss that is open within past the view of your senses which identify joy with smiling and laughter. These are outer conditions. There is a deeper joy to be found past this through the 8 fold noble path. I guess you can say that it is a condition, but this condition is a condition free of conditions.

 

Anyway... There is more to a book than it's cover. Every Buddhist from the Pali type to the Sanskrit, to the Tibetan experience deeply profound bliss by following the path and all of them decrease their inner condition for suffering. Every single one of us. Even if you can't see it from the outside, inside, it's happening.

 

Thanks for the blessing!! =^)

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I think that to have a realistic picture of (the majority) of Buddhists, one needs to look primarily at how most Buddhists conduct themselves, and what's central to their way of life. There is great emphasis right from the beginning of the path - one based on understanding, followed by the generation of intention, which is then followed by positive action. The Buddhist path is always to be adopted in degrees - not every Buddhist can follow thru to the 3rd stage, so they are encouraged to first of all have a good understanding, and train in this. This is the psychological bit in Buddhism.

 

Once true understanding is attained, the generation of intention follows - this means cultivating an attitude of compassion, which then leads to the desire to be more accepting, more giving, more for-giving, more involved, so the whole being becomes more about thinking of others, becoming more empathetic in other words. To do this, Buddhism put in place certain representative reminders, of which Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara is prime, and if one were to look at the image here (http://www.purifymind.com/Chenrezig_Thanka.jpg) one can see the Four Arms. This is quite significant. Each arm symbolizes the Four Immeasurables: Immeasurable Loving Kindness, Immeasurable Compassion, Immeasurable JOY, and Immeasurable Equanimity. This second aspect is the aspiration part of the path.

 

The third stage is the practical aspect of the path, where the motivation to make others happy and joyful creates the right conditions for one's own happiness and joyous disposition. Seeing this deeply, it becomes an awareness that takes root, thus infusing one's daily activities and interactions with a sense of having done something beneficial. This is something that all TRUE Buddhists try to be conscious of.

 

So you see, there is a very systematic approach in Buddhism towards creating Joy. It very much minimizes the kind of joy that is self-centered, haphazard, and without true understanding, and therefore, generally disappears very quickly. Its really not that metaphysical or esoteric - and makes a lot of sense, dont you agree?

 

There is an interesting illustration about the difference between thinking of one's happiness first before that of others. Two groups of humans - one was sent to hell, and the other was sent to heaven. The group that was sent to hell were all miserable, sufffffering endlessly, despite the fact they were lavished with the finest banquet day in and day out. They were all sat across from one another at this massive banquet table with the best cuisine ever, yet they were all starving to death, all because they had no idea how to reach the morsels of food, since tied to each of their arms were 6-foot long wooden ladles that created all sorts of problems, making it impossible to feed themselves, and so they starved.

 

In heaven the group had the exact same condition yet they were not encumbered by it, ate heartily, because they immediately realized that the fastened ladles were not obstacles - all they had to do was to feed someone across the table, instead of trying in vain to feed oneself. It was not that difficult after all.

 

This is just a very simple story. But it does present a basic view of what it means to sometimes try creating conditions where generosity can be practiced, for the greater good of all. This is quite a central theme in Buddhism, which definitely is not morbid in any way.

 

Blessings.

Edited by CowTao

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Life isn't suffering, wanting reality to be other than it is is suffering.

 

 

*nods*

 

:)

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I understand what you're saying, but I still think that one consequence of the First Noble Truth when taken as Gospel is the inability to transcend it.

 

No Buddhist sees it this way because every Buddhist sees all 4 noble truths, not just one of them as a gospel or absolute in and of itself. Also, Buddhism teaches relativity.

 

Only non-Buddhists or people who just want to argue for arguments sake will take one of the noble truths out of context and completely misunderstand it and say it's wrong, therefore Buddhism is wrong. But, these people are just wasting time and showing their suffering/delusion.

 

Don't be one of those people.

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The Four Noble Truths of Fire.

 

There is Fire.

There are causes which brings about Fire. (If these causes are not understood, frustration could result).

Pain and agony can end, not the Fire. In itself Fire is neither good or bad - understand this and one can be a master over fire.

This is the Users' Guide to learning about Fire, and free oneself from the fear of it.

 

Perhaps in ancient civilizations the above was a good four noble truth about Fire. Just because of a reference to a prevailing human condition all sorts of wrong views arose. It need not be so. One just has to see things from different perspectives, thats all.

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I think that to have a realistic picture of (the majority) of Buddhists, one needs to look primarily at how most Buddhists conduct themselves, and what's central to their way of life. There is great emphasis right from the beginning of the path - one based on understanding, followed by the generation of intention, which is then followed by positive action. The Buddhist path is always to be adopted in degrees - not every Buddhist can follow thru to the 3rd stage, so they are encouraged to first of all have a good understanding, and train in this. This is the psychological bit in Buddhism.

 

Once true understanding is attained, the generation of intention follows - this means cultivating an attitude of compassion, which then leads to the desire to be more accepting, more giving, more for-giving, more involved, so the whole being becomes more about thinking of others, becoming more empathetic in other words. To do this, Buddhism put in place certain representative reminders, of which Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara is prime, and if one were to look at the image here (http://www.purifymind.com/Chenrezig_Thanka.jpg) one can see the Four Arms. This is quite significant. Each arm symbolizes the Four Immeasurables: Immeasurable Loving Kindness, Immeasurable Compassion, Immeasurable JOY, and Immeasurable Equanimity. This second aspect is the aspiration part of the path.

 

The third stage is the practical aspect of the path, where the motivation to make others happy and joyful creates the right conditions for one's own happiness and joyous disposition. Seeing this deeply, it becomes an awareness that takes root, thus infusing one's daily activities and interactions with a sense of having done something beneficial. This is something that all TRUE Buddhists try to be conscious of.

 

So you see, there is a very systematic approach in Buddhism towards creating Joy. It very much minimizes the kind of joy that is self-centered, haphazard, and without true understanding, and therefore, generally disappears very quickly. Its really not that metaphysical or esoteric - and makes a lot of sense, dont you agree?

 

There is an interesting illustration about the difference between thinking of one's happiness first before that of others. Two groups of humans - one was sent to hell, and the other was sent to heaven. The group that was sent to hell were all miserable, sufffffering endlessly, despite the fact they were lavished with the finest banquet day in and day out. They were all sat across from one another at this massive banquet table with the best cuisine ever, yet they were all starving to death, all because they had no idea how to reach the morsels of food, since tied to each of their arms were 6-foot long wooden ladles that created all sorts of problems, making it impossible to feed themselves, and so they starved.

 

In heaven the group had the exact same condition yet they were not encumbered by it, ate heartily, because they immediately realized that the fastened ladles were not obstacles - all they had to do was to feed someone across the table, instead of trying in vain to feed oneself. It was not that difficult after all.

 

This is just a very simple story. But it does present a basic view of what it means to sometimes try creating conditions where generosity can be practiced, for the greater good of all. This is quite a central theme in Buddhism, which definitely is not morbid in any way.

 

Blessings.

 

Thanks CowTao, I appreciate this response too. This kind of Buddhism I definitely respect. Compassion and it's flourishing are noble values. If only everyone thought so.

 

My criticisms of Buddhism are far less severe than many other religions for these reasons.

 

Speaking of AvalokiteŇõvara, Kuan Yin is my favorite Goddess. I honor Her and bow to Her beauty.

 

I just think there is an element missing as can be seen in my dialogue with Vajra. I think there can be an element to Buddhism that doesn't value our manifest existence, and seeks escape from the gift of Life. See my previous post for elaboration.

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Thanks CowTao, I appreciate this response too. This kind of Buddhism I definitely respect. Compassion and it's flourishing are noble values. If only everyone thought so.

 

My criticisms of Buddhism are far less severe than many other religions for these reasons.

 

Speaking of AvalokiteŇõvara, Kuan Yin is my favorite Goddess. I honor Her and bow to Her beauty.

 

I just think there is an element missing as can be seen in my dialogue with Vajra. I think there can be an element to Buddhism that doesn't value our manifest existence, and seeks escape from the gift of Life. See my previous post for elaboration.

hello RyanO - thank you for the acknowledgement.

 

Perhaps there could be a small misunderstanding that caused the observation you made above about the possibility of an element of denial and escape. As far as i can tell, (i could be biased here since Buddhism has been in the family for a few generations now), most of the Buddhists i know of, either as individuals or as organizations, are a very engaging bunch of people, and unless they have a deep appreciation of how precious life is, there would exist much difficulty in their convictions to contribute to the well-being of the less fortunate. I personally know of a Buddhist group in Malaysia called Kechara (pls google if you are interested to verify - somehow i do not seem to be able to paste any links lately) who are doing great things for the community, like setting up animal shelters, organizing weekly soup kitchens to look after the poor, creating awareness on the benefits of recycling, and engaging in a whole host of charitable and altruistic activities to benefit those (humans as well as animals, birds and fish!) who are in need. They really understand the gift of Life, which is why they do what they do, with little regard for themselves. But the funny thing is that at the end of the day, they are not really doing it exclusively for others, because they believe that to truly alleviate one's own suffering and to find happiness, the best way forward is to CREATE THE CAUSES for happiness to arise, and the easiest way to do that is to first bring happiness and comfort to others. This i understand is the core practice of compassion in action, and not just paying lip service, which many Buddhists do as well, undeniably.

 

Apologies for being long-winded here RyanO....

 

All the best, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Its all good.

 

(Am going to try to post a link below just to see if it works) -edit.

http://www.kechara.com/

 

hey it works!! yay! :D

Edited by CowTao

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