nowheat wrote:Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.
Spiny O'Norman wrote:But if aging and death are dukkha, then to be completely free from dukkha we need to free from aging and death. So...?
Funny how fast we get back onto rebirth, isn't it? I guess I could have been clearer.
What I should have said (when trying to be brief) was:
The words "death" and even "aging and death" are being substituted for the word "dukkha". This makes amata freedom from dukkha.
But that would have been an oversimplification, because, really, I'm not meaning that "the words" are being substituted for "the word" dukkha, though that is one way of putting what I am saying.
This is what I'm saying: In most situations, when the Buddha talks about "aging and death" he doesn't really mean "aging and death", he means "dukkha" -- or "impermanence" (the two being the same thing, really).
It is an oversimplification of what's being said in the suttas to take as one's understanding that freedom from dukkha = freedom from literal death. Just as it's an oversimplification to see freedom from dukkha as freedom from literal birth, literal feeling, and literal consciousness. Or even that to end dukkha one has to be free from all the forms of ignorance ("literal ignorance") first. All of the terms used in dependent origination, if confined just to their plainest, most-literal interpretations, are going to confuse the issue.
The Buddha *does* make the point that if there were no birth at all we would not experience dukkha. This is quite obviously true to anyone with half a brain. It's equally true that if there were no sickness or death -- if things were not impermanent and changeable -- there would be no dukkha, because dukkha feeds off of impermanence. It is also true that if we felt nothing there would be no dukkha. If we had no consciousness at all, there would be no dukkha. These things are so obvious that we don't need a Buddha to discover them or point them out to us.
What he is saying is much, much subtler than this. I have detailed the subtleties before, so I won't do it again here.
But he is not saying that death is the exact equivalent of dukkha in every way. He is using a sort of short-hand. Having explained (to the people in his day to whom the argument he was making in dependent arising would have been much clearer than it is to us, since they had the context to understand it) what "death" represents in his core lesson (as outlined in the post linked in the paragraph above) he would expect that when he mentions "death" the listener would understand it not as literal death, but as (1) a base condition for dukkha to happen (2) the nutriment required for dukkha to happen (3) a euphemism for dukkha in that it is "not going to heaven and bliss but just more of the same old same old".