Is samsara getting better?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is samsara getting better?

Postby Stephen K » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:49 pm

Some people are improving, some people are getting worse. But as a whole, are the beings in samsara generally moving in a better or worse direction?

Most of us Buddhists, by practicing the Dhamma, are gradually purifying our minds and improving our morality and wisdom. Also, in general, people learn from their mistakes, so I suppose human beings must be improving with time. Furthermore, advances in areas such as science, technology, and medicine, are contributing to a better world.



So, is samsara getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana
User avatar
Stephen K
 
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:54 pm

Samsara is not a place. Samsara is identifying with the impermanent and expecting it to become permanent and to give permanent happiness . If Samsara " got better" it would not be Samsara. Samsara is a verb-like construction not a noun- like construction.
Last edited by PeterB on Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Stephen K » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:58 pm

OK. Read "sentient beings" instead of "samsara" then. :smile:
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana
User avatar
Stephen K
 
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:15 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
User avatar
Hanzze
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:45 pm

Stefan wrote:OK. Read "sentient beings" instead of "samsara" then. :smile:

By definition sentient life is characterised by Dukkha.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby zoidberg » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:01 pm

PeterB wrote:
Stefan wrote:OK. Read "sentient beings" instead of "samsara" then. :smile:

By definition sentient life is characterised by Dukkha.


That's true, but do you guys share my belief that considering economic growth, raising life expectancy and higher average years of schooling we could say that there are more fortunate births in human realm now than there was a few centuries back? Obviously, dukkha continue to characterize those materially happier birth.

sorry about my bad english :?
User avatar
zoidberg
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:10 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:10 pm

I guess it depends on how we measure fortunate births Zoidberg, its arguable that a shorter life with less money and access to the Dhamma would be preferable to a longer life with more money and more distractions.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:26 pm

Stefan wrote:so I suppose human beings must be improving with time.

Too much of a supposition. Even if it had some overall validity (how would one measure?) the view of a linear up-sloping evolution would be an unwarranted extrapolation from a snapshot view in time. Allowing for cyclical movement, then the perceived "improving" might just be the part of the wheel that is going up rather than down.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1784
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:04 am

Stefan wrote:Some people are improving, some people are getting worse. But as a whole, are the beings in samsara generally moving in a better or worse direction?

Technically - circular direction. However, Ledi Sayadaw has this cautionary story from the suttas, presented in Vipassana Dipani:
Kanakacchapa-Sutta:
"At one time, the Buddha addressed the disciples thus: 'there is, O Bhikkhus, in the ocean a turtle, both of whose eyes are blind. He plunges into the water of the unfathomable ocean and swims about incessantly in any direction wherever his head may lead. There is also in the ocean the yoke of a cart, which is ceaselessly floating about on the surface of the water, and is carried away in all directions by tide, current and wind. Thus these two go on throughout an incalculable space of time: perchance it happens that in the course of time the yoke arrives at the precise place and time where and when the turtle puts up his head, and yokes on to it. Now, O Bhikkhus, is it possible that such a time might come as is said?' 'In ordinary truth, O Lord,' replied the Bhikkhus 'it is impossible; but time being so spacious, and an aeon lasting so long, it may be admitted that perhaps at some time or other it might be possible for the two to yoke together, as said; if the blind tortoise lives long enough, and the yoke does not tend to rot and break up before such a coincidence comes to pass.'

Then the Buddha said, 'O Bhikkhus, the occurrence of such a strange thing is not to be counted a difficult one; for there is still a greater, a harder, a hundred times, a thousand times more difficult than this lying hidden from your knowledge. And what is this? It is, O Bhikkhus, the obtaining of the opportunity of becoming a man again by a man who has expired and is reborn once in any of the four realms of misery. The occurrence of the yoking of the blind tortoise is not worth thinking of as a difficult occurrence in comparison therewith. Because those who perform good deeds and abstain from doing bad alone can obtain the existence of men and Devas. The beings in the four miserable worlds cannot discern what is virtuous and what vicious, what good and what bad, what moral and what immoral, what meritorious and what de-meritorious, and consequently they live a life of immorality and demerit, tormenting one another with all their power. Those creatures of the Niraya and Peta abode in particular, live a very miserable life on account of punishments and torments, which they experience with sorrow, pain and distress. Therefore, O Bhikkhus, the opportunity of being reborn in the abode of men is a hundred times, a thousand times harder to obtain than the encountering of the blind turtle with the yoke."

According to this Sutta, why those creatures who are born in the miserable planes are far from human existence is because they never look up but always look down. And what is meant by looking down? The ignorance in them by degrees becomes greater and stronger from one existence to another; and as the water of a river always flows down to the lower plains, so also they are always tending towards the lower existences; for the ways towards the higher existences are closed to them, while those towards the lower existences are freely open. This is the meaning of "looking down". Hence, from this story of the blind turtle, the wise apprehend how great, how fearful, how terribly perilous are the evils of the -- Puthujjana-gati, i.e. "the dispersion of existence."
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16222
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:31 pm

Stefan wrote:is samsara getting better

No
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:16 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
User avatar
Hanzze
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby budo » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:22 pm

Without pain there is no pleasure, without evil there is no good. How would we know if someone did something evil if we had nothing to compare it against? There will always be bad and good. However, nibbana is neither evil nor good, it is the escape from duality, the escape of this cycle.

Someone who is good, can become evil, and vise versa. Conditions create good and evil. Buddhism is not about "being good" the sila or virtue, is to help you get to nibbana, which is neither good nor evil, it is nothingness, the end of duality. Bad goes to hell, Good goes to heaven, this is the world of duality, beyond duality there is Nibbana.

So no, the world in whole is not purifying, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. This is also why there are many Buddhas, because the world goes through the cycle of good and bad, like a pendulum swinging back and forth.

Image
“An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.” - George Orwell
User avatar
budo
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: Canada

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby ajahndoe » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:35 am

The human world in general is experiencing increasing difficulties, increasing attachments to ease and pleasure and technologies; self-sufficiency and contentment with little is on the decline. Fortunately an increase in dukkha is beneficial, in that it leads one to the seeking of a means to end suffering.
ajahndoe
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:47 am

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Euclid » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:20 am

budo wrote:... without evil there is no good. How would we know if someone did something evil if we had nothing to compare it against?


Is this really the case?

That deed is not well done, which, having been done, brings remorse, whose reward one receives weeping and with a tearful countenance. But that deed is well done, which, having been done, does not bring remorse, whose reward one receives delighted and happy.


Dhp. 67-68
Euclid
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:30 am

There is increased air traffic into London Heathrow....is gravity getting better ?
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby fabianfred » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:29 am

We are on the downward slope...
The continual cycle (all nature works in cycles)..... low point of human existence is a life span of ten years... high point is over 100,000 years...
Buddhas are only born when the human lifespan is dropping and between 100,000 and 100 years....now we are down to about a global average of 75 years....dying from natural causes that is...old age....not many get to do that now...mostly war and disease.
At the low point all morals have been lost from society and killing another human is seen as no different from killing an animal. Sex with anyone...like dogs.... females are mature at 5....boys at 6. Nature has been decimated by abuse. Seven days of mass killing ends with few survivors. They then live morally and gradually the lifespan increases to over 100,000 years. People and animals and plants and crops and nature get to reach their full potential.
the cycle continues and age drops to 80,000 years...when the next Buddha is predicted to appear.

Don't hold your breath...several million years away.
fabianfred
 
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:06 am
Location: Fang, Chiangmai

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Guy » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:02 am

Regarding the question "Is Samsara getting better", I would say that we can only answer that from our own perspective. If we make bad kamma then we are watering the weeds of Samsara. If we make good kamma then we are watering the flowers of Samsara.

Perhaps the best strategy is to try to get off the wheel of Samsara within the present sasana but also make lots of good kamma to increase our probability of meeting a future Buddha (just in case). I'd be the first to admit though that I am probably a bit lax at applying this strategy to my fullest potential.
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
User avatar
Guy
 
Posts: 762
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 4:05 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:14 am

fabianfred wrote:We are on the downward slope...
The continual cycle (all nature works in cycles)..... low point of human existence is a life span of ten years... high point is over 100,000 years...
Buddhas are only born when the human lifespan is dropping and between 100,000 and 100 years....now we are down to about a global average of 75 years....dying from natural causes that is...old age....not many get to do that now...mostly war and disease.
At the low point all morals have been lost from society and killing another human is seen as no different from killing an animal. Sex with anyone...like dogs.... females are mature at 5....boys at 6. Nature has been decimated by abuse. Seven days of mass killing ends with few survivors. They then live morally and gradually the lifespan increases to over 100,000 years. People and animals and plants and crops and nature get to reach their full potential.
the cycle continues and age drops to 80,000 years...when the next Buddha is predicted to appear.

Don't hold your breath...several million years away.


I would not take that business about lifespans literally, personally.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:59 am

Stefan wrote:Some people are improving, some people are getting worse. But as a whole, are the beings in samsara generally moving in a better or worse direction?

Most of us Buddhists, by practicing the Dhamma, are gradually purifying our minds and improving our morality and wisdom. Also, in general, people learn from their mistakes, so I suppose human beings must be improving with time. Furthermore, advances in areas such as science, technology, and medicine, are contributing to a better world.



So, is samsara getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?

Hi Stefan.In my opinion we are still subject to birth,ageing,sickness and death.So I would have to say no.For those on the path then possibly the answer is yes.It is true that modern science,medicine etc may make this existence a little more comfortable,but at the moment we are still as badly off as ever(apart from being born human and practising the dhamma).
With metta,Phra Greg
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
Lost in space
And meaning
User avatar
Phra Chuntawongso
 
Posts: 274
Joined: Sun May 02, 2010 11:05 am
Location: Wat SriBoenRuang,Fang,Chiang Mai

Re: Is samsara getting better?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:14 am

fabianfred wrote:We are on the downward slope...
The continual cycle (all nature works in cycles)..... low point of human existence is a life span of ten years... high point is over 100,000 years...
Buddhas are only born when the human lifespan is dropping and between 100,000 and 100 years....now we are down to about a global average of 75 years....dying from natural causes that is...old age....not many get to do that now...mostly war and disease.
At the low point all morals have been lost from society and killing another human is seen as no different from killing an animal. Sex with anyone...like dogs.... females are mature at 5....boys at 6. Nature has been decimated by abuse. Seven days of mass killing ends with few survivors. They then live morally and gradually the lifespan increases to over 100,000 years. People and animals and plants and crops and nature get to reach their full potential.
the cycle continues and age drops to 80,000 years...when the next Buddha is predicted to appear.

Don't hold your breath...several million years away.


Bhante

With all due respect if humans only lived till they were ten, then all humans would die out since reproduction is very very unlikely to happen at that age

Also the lifespan has increased over the few hundred thousand years that homosapiens have been around, not decreased and its increasing every century
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3479
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests