question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

question

Postby dddmmm » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:29 am

Is it a proper diagnosis of one who suffers acutely from the loss of a loved that he does so because of illusions that he harbors? If one did not suffer under such circumstances I would question the authenticity of any love that he claims to have had towards the deceased. It seems to me that the Buddhist doctrine, while having valuable insights into the nature of suffering, proposes that we become indolent and completely detached from life - including much that is beautiful in it - in order to avoid suffering of any type. The means completely outweigh the end in my view. I do not see all suffering to be rooted in an imbalance. Indeed, to fully embrace life seems to me to demand an embrace of suffering on some level and a recognition that such is the cost that must be paid in order to fully and completely love. I am not at all trying to say that all suffering stems from wholesomeness - please do not misunderstand me.
I do not approach the members of this forum or buddhists in general with any hostility whatsoever. Neither do I claim to know much about buddhism. I have said all of this because I feel that I can gain a greater insight into buddhism by doing what makes sense for one with such a desire (do I suffer illusions because I have such a desire?) - to ask practicing buddhists. - Daniel
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Re: question

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:39 am

Hi Daniel
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.
I'm not sure what you are asking. Your first paragraph contains a series of preconceptions or conclusions you've come to about Buddhism that doesn't equate with my understanding.
It appears you are not a Buddhist - that's fine. Dhamma Wheel welcomes everyone regardless of spiritual affiliation or non-affiliation. You are welcome to ask but I suggest you leave your pre-conceived ideas 'at the door', if you know what i mean.
kind regards

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Re: question

Postby dddmmm » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:40 am

well. kindly point out what these are please. As I said, I seek to gain an understanding.
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Re: question

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:52 am

Greetings dddmmm,

I would recommend the following sutta...

Salla Sutta: The Arrow (Snp 3.8)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.08.irel.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: question

Postby dddmmm » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:21 am

thanks alot retro

what I am curious of is whether love is necessarily defined as attachment (a root of suffering) to another. I am struggling with how one can be engaged in life and with others and not feel an inkling of pain at the onset of loss can fit together. I am not even sure whether the complete eradication of suffering is desirable and conducive to a wholesome life. I can't imagine that a wholesome individual would feel absolutely nothing in the face of many of the things that are to be encountered in life. To be characterized as such seems to demand lifelessness. Perhaps it is this struggle wherein my preconceptions can be found.
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Re: question

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:25 am

Greetings dddmmm,

And now I'll point you here...

The Four Sublime States: Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity
By Nyanaponika Thera

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: question

Postby Dan74 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:41 am

Good question!

They were similar kind of misgivings that kept me away from Buddhism for many years.

A deep committed kind of love that you describe (and the suffering engendered by its loss) are certainly some of the finest human emotions, in my opinion. But in the final analysis, they too are based in selfish attachment, albeit not the crude kind of selfishness that lusts after wealth, success and sensual pleasure.

The thing in Buddhism is not to jump the gun. There is no need to believe that the purest forms of human love are ultimately rooted in selfishness. If you find such a notion offensive - fine! Address the selfishness that is uncontroversial. Greed, Anger and Ignorance are the classics. And all their variants.

Letting go is a process. It comes from insight into the true nature of things (e.g seeing attachment and aversion as motivators of a behaviour). There is no point fighting love while you still believe that it is noble and pure. And relative to much else in our life it may well be!

And you know what, we may well be wrong about it anyway! But what does it matter? The real work is right under our noses. No need to worry about love and grieving from loss and what Buddhism says about that. If you are grieving- grieve! If you are not grieving, get on with life and face it squarely, with all the expectations, concepts upon concepts, selfishness, and endless dreaming overlaying it all.

Buddhism is a practical path. No need to worry about what you may or may not do 10 years down your practice. Plenty to do right now.

I recall a Theravada bhikkhuni (nun) who once came and gave a brilliant talk called Fear, Aggression and Sexuality on the Path to Awakening. Not once was there a judgmental - "this is bad" - type of a comment. See what is useful and what is not. What is wholesome and what is harmful. Work with your mind, develop means to nourish the wholesome and avoid the harmful. And above it all, of course, insight. This comes from meditation and from reflecting on the teachings and how they relate to our lives.

That's how I see it, at least.

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Re: question

Postby Mawkish1983 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:52 am

I love the dhamma. There is an answer to every question :)

Edit: I hope this thread stays open and I hope dddmmm asks every question he/she can think of :)
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Re: question

Postby appicchato » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:33 pm

Dan74 wrote: Address the selfishness that is uncontroversial. Greed, Anger and Ignorance are the classics.

Letting go is a process.

...we may well be wrong about it anyway! But what does it matter?

No need to worry about what you may or may not do 10 years down your practice. Plenty to do right now.

See what is useful and what is not. What is wholesome and what is harmful. Work with your mind, develop means to nourish the wholesome and avoid the harmful.


:thumbsup:
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Re: question

Postby dddmmm » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:42 pm

"But the kind of equanimity required has to be based on vigilant presence of mind, not on indifferent dullness. It has to be the result of hard, deliberate training, not the casual outcome of a passing mood. But equanimity would not deserve its name if it had to be produced by exertion again and again. In such a case it would surely be weakened and finally defeated by the vicissitudes of life. True equanimity, however, should be able to meet all these severe tests and to regenerate its strength from sources within. It will possess this power of resistance and self-renewal only if it is rooted in insight."

Compassion guards equanimity from falling into a cold indifference, and keeps it from indolent or selfish isolation. Until equanimity has reached perfection, compassion urges it to enter again and again the battle of the world, in order to be able to stand the test, by hardening and strengthening itself.

Sympathetic joy gives to equanimity the mild serenity that softens its stern appearance. It is the divine smile on the face of the Enlightened One, a smile that persists in spite of his deep knowledge of the world's suffering, a smile that gives solace and hope, fearlessness and confidence: "Wide open are the doors to deliverance," thus it speaks.

Equanimity, which means "even-mindedness," gives to love an even, unchanging firmness and loyalty. It endows it with the great virtue of patience. Equanimity furnishes compassion with an even, unwavering courage and fearlessness, enabling it to face the awesome abyss of misery and despair which confront boundless compassion again and again. To the active side of compassion, equanimity is the calm and firm hand led by wisdom — indispensable to those who want to practice the difficult art of helping others. And here again equanimity means patience, the patient devotion to the work of compassion.

"Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. But in its perfection and unshakable nature equanimity is not dull, heartless and frigid. Its perfection is not due to an emotional "emptiness," but to a "fullness" of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of the highest strength."

"Love, compassion and sympathetic joy continue to emanate from the mind and act upon the world, but being guarded by equanimity, they cling nowhere, and return unweakened and unsullied."

"Just as all the streams of the world enter the great ocean, and all the waters of the sky rain into it, but no increase or decrease of the great ocean is to be seen"
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Re: question

Postby notself » Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:01 am

dddmmm

It appears you are finding useful information in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's essay on the Sublime Attitudes. Just a small point, when you quote you should use the quote function and give the source. It helps the rest of us and follows any copyright laws. :smile:

To get back to your topic :focus: I would like to ask you to think about any loss you have had of a family member or even a pet. When you feel grief what exactly are the emotions you are feeling that fall under the word grief?
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: question

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:14 am

dddmmm wrote: If one did not suffer under such circumstances I would question the authenticity of any love that he claims to have had towards the deceased.


Imo, grief isn't a measure of love, it is a measure of attachment. These two states aren't the same thing, even though we do a good job of mixing them up.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: question

Postby Nibbida » Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:01 am

It may help to point out that Buddhist psychology differentiates between pain and suffering. Pain is the initial experience, physical or emotinal. Suffering is what occurs when we resist the pain, where it becomes elaborated and magnified by preconceptions, judgements, mental commentary, etc. A meditation teacher named Gil Fronsdal explains it by saying "Freedom in Buddhism is not freedom from emotions; it is freedom from complicating them." Even intense mental and physical pain becomes a lot more tolerable when experienced with mindfulness, rather than the usual knee-jerk attempts at avoidance or control. So even the pain of the loss of a loved one becomes a different experience. Numbness or apathy is never the goal in Buddhism. (See Fronsdal's Issue at Hand, http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... d4thEd.pdf)

After a few years of meditation, when a death occurs, I tend to focus more on gratitude toward the deceased rather than grief. I focus on kindness and compassion toward other people who loved the deceased and being supportive for them. The sadness is definitely there, but it kinda moves through my body more fluidly, rather than feeling like a clam shell scraping my innards as it did in the past. Feeling emotion in this way allows one to reap all of the benefits: you are grounded in reality, you are sensitive to the happiness and suffering of other, and respond appropriately to situations. However, the costs of emotions are reduced: they are not so disabling. So, Buddhism seeks to maximize the good aspects of emotions and minimize the bad aspects. It improves the cost-benefit ratio of emotions, in a sense.

So the mistaken dichotomy you present (either be miserable or don't care) is a very very common misunderstanding of Buddhism. I believe it's because most people don't understand that there are more than two options. Experiencing love and loss with mindfulness is, by far, a better alternative.
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Re: question

Postby Waterearth » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:45 am

Nothing wrong with sadness or pain because of love. IMO what is more important is the way one deals with that sadness or pain.
Can one see it arise and cease again, or does it stay for a long time causing all kinds of trouble in its wake?
I don't think the enlightenment is about not loving or not suffering but to become 'lighter' about it... :thinking:
When the mind only minds the mind,
reality stands alone and shines,
this is wisdom in action,
its expression is compassion...
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Re: question

Postby dddmmm » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:04 pm

All that has been said makes sense. I can't imagine that even the most level-headed person would feel absolutely nothing in the face of tragedy - not just compassion for the suffering of others as a result of loss, but also a pain that is directly experienced. But, as some have said, to feel the emotions that are naturally engendered by loss does not index the existence of what lies at the base of grief. By grief I understand something that is produced when, metaphorically speaking, a rug is forcefully pulled out from under an individual's feet. People engage in artifice when insight into the nature of things is lacked. Many try to find support in those things that are precarious at best - they build sandcastles in which they feel secure.

Having one's eyes fixed in the wrong direction results in the building up of all sorts of supports that are necessarily out of touch with the nature of things. These foundations cannot but be washed away to the sea. The one that is attached has projected his own disconnection with the unconditioned (do I use this term right?) onto the external world in the form of illusions in order to compensate for this disconnection. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but to me it seems as if the path of Buddhism is the path wherein all of these internal constructions are not merely leveled - for the one who wastes away from grief has gotten this far - , but wherein such a leveling is sought after as a condition for fullness and serenity.

thanks for the replies everyone :bow:
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