Fatalism / Samsara

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dhammafriend
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Fatalism / Samsara

Postby dhammafriend » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:21 pm

Hi all, just some questions I wanted to share and discuss.

My first thing is samsara.
Lots of people posting on DW describe samsara as a place or places/realms. My understanding (limited) is that samsara is actually the mental processes (lead by the 3 fires) that keep perpetuating worlds / and places. If samsara was a place, an arahant would literally have to be able to exit it to experience Nibbana. This understanding of samsara as a place seems more in line with the Jains and brahmanism during the Buddha’s time.

This argument is often used to dissuade others to take purposeful action in there personal lives or social/ political action. Eg: “what do you expect, you can’t change the world, it’s samsara, you need to meditate more.” This seems absurd to me because the argument, assumes that ‘action’ (mental/verbal/physical) is optional. When we really can’t choose whether to act or not but are compelled to anyway through dependant origination. So rather choose meritorious action than the impossible ‘non- action.’

The next is dhamma - ending age. Does anyone have scriptural sources for this? This, like the ‘samsara is a place’ theory also leads to the same non-action argument that’s more in line with Jainism. Eg: “what do you expect, its the dharma ending age, it’s all going to sh*t anyway, why bother.”

My issue here is this, if the Lord Buddha attained what he said he did on that night, he would have known that it’s all going to crap anyway so why bother? He established something that he knew would fall apart. Why would he do this?
Why would he go to such great lengths to preserve his teaching, to his own personal cost? He didn’t owe anyone anything. My theory is that his compassion for the dukkha of others lead him to actually get out there and start gathering disciples to establish his community.

I think I understand the 3 marks very well, and am well aware that everything rises and falls based on conditions etc. My issue with this belief (dhamma ending age) is that it often becomes an excuse not to do anything constructive, where it would take a considerable amount of effort to achieve.

I’m not proposing to go against the tilakhana, rather I think its possible to have a accurate and clear view of reality and still have skilful / wholesome motivation to affect positive changes for ones self and other beings.

I’m asking these questions because I can’t see any suttas that support the attitudes that often arise when people these views.

Thank you
Dhammfriend
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Aloka
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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby Aloka » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:49 pm

dhammafriend wrote:
Lots of people posting on DW describe samsara as a place or places/realms. My understanding (limited) is that samsara is actually the mental processes (lead by the 3 fires) that keep perpetuating worlds / and places. If samsara was a place, an arahant would literally have to be able to exit it to experience Nibbana. This understanding of samsara as a place seems more in line with the Jains and brahmanism during the Buddha’s time.



Hi dhammafriend,

When I was involved with Tibetan Buddhism everyone seemed to regard samsara as the place we live -and yes, I've seen it described like that by some people here at DW too.

However, this is how Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes samsara :

Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live — the place we leave when we go to nibbana. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.

Continued:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/samsara.html



With kind wishes,

Aloka

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Aloka
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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby Aloka » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:01 pm

The next is dhamma - ending age. Does anyone have scriptural sources for this?


I don't know of anything in the suttas about a "dhamma -ending age", but there's this sutta :



SN 20.7 Ani Sutta: The Peg

Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained.

"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn20/sn20.007.than.html


:anjali:

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dhammafriend
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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby dhammafriend » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:38 pm

Thanks aloka. Yes that's the sutta I was thinking of. Thanissaro's quote is insightful.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby culaavuso » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:54 pm

dhammafriend wrote:This argument is often used to dissuade others to take purposeful action in there personal lives or social/ political action. Eg: “what do you expect, you can’t change the world, it’s samsara, you need to meditate more.” This seems absurd to me because the argument, assumes that ‘action’ (mental/verbal/physical) is optional. When we really can’t choose whether to act or not but are compelled to anyway through dependant origination. So rather choose meritorious action than the impossible ‘non- action.’


The world can definitely be changed. Every action changes the world in some way. Eventually, with sufficient skill, it should even be possible to bring about the ultimate change which is ending the creation of worlds in the first place. Regarding social and political action, I think a good way to evaluate these things is in terms of AN 8.53
AN 8.53: Gotami Sutta wrote:Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'


Thus, if the social or political involvement leads you to become more passionate, fettered, discontented with the actions of others, burdensome to others in your quest, then it is not in line with the Dhamma. If the social or political involvement leads to dispassion, contentment regardless of the actions taken by others, and so forth then it is in line with the Dhamma. Problems arise when the social or political action leads to being highly impassioned, trying to control or manipulate the actions of others, and being discontent with the realities of things outside of your control. When actions are taken to improve the situation dispassionately, accepting the individual choices made by others, and remaining content with the nature of things that can not be controlled then there doesn't seem to be any conflict with the Dhamma.

Regarding 'non-action' as a result of misinterpreting the Dhamma, I'm reminded of a story about Ajaan Chah in Beyond All Directions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Another story deals with Ajaan Chah surveying the damage in his monastery after a storm, discovering that one of the huts had half its roof blown off by the wind. He asked the monk living in the hut, "Why aren't you fixing the roof?" The monk replied, "I'm practicing equanimity, sleeping in the half of the hut that's still sheltered." Ajaan Chah said, "That's the equanimity of a water buffalo. Fix the roof."
So when you're looking at the practice, you have to look at it from many sides. In Ajaan Chah's case, he was pointing out the need to balance contentment with the duty of persistently caring for the fruits of other people's generosity.

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:57 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Lots of people posting on DW describe samsara as a place or places/realms.


I can't say I've ever noticed this, I thought everyone knew it was a condition or process. Of course the distinction probably only really matters if someone says it happens in another place/realm not this one.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby gavesako » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:41 pm

The best source for the Dhamma-ending Age is the Anagatavamsa (post-canonical text):

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=14116
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:15 am

Thus, if the social or political involvement leads you to become more passionate, fettered, discontented with the actions of others, burdensome to others in your quest, then it is not in line with the Dhamma...

Thank you for this Culaavuso, it makes a lot of sense. :) We can judge the skillfulness based on the kilesas, whether our actions (mental/verbal/physical) strengthens or weakens them. The Ajahn Cha story is cool too.

The best source for the Dhamma-ending Age is the Anagatavamsa (post-canonical text):

Thanks Venerable. So we have no mention of dhamma-ending age in the four Nikayas. Thats good to know, thank you. The Sutta of the Peg actually speaks of monastics and their lax behavior regarding the Dhamma they are supposed to learn and uphold, but no mention of a worldwide extinction of True Dhamma.

Dhammafriend
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby cooran » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:40 am

Hello all,

Saddhammapatirapaka Sutta speaks of the disappearance of the True Dhamma
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:59 am

Hi, Dhammafriend,
This thread http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=19723, "Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?", may also be relevant to your questions about fatalism vs action.

:reading:
Kim

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby dhammafriend » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:01 pm

thanks Kim & Cooran. Will have a look at the thread & the Sutta.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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Re: Fatalism / Samsara

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:55 am

dhammafriend wrote:My issue here is this, if the Lord Buddha attained what he said he did on that night, he would have known that it’s all going to crap anyway so why bother? He established something that he knew would fall apart. Why would he do this?
Why would he go to such great lengths to preserve his teaching, to his own personal cost? He didn’t owe anyone anything. My theory is that his compassion for the dukkha of others lead him to actually get out there and start gathering disciples to establish his community.

Because everything conditioned is impermanent. There's only one unconditioned and permanent reality: Nibbana. Everything else arises and passes away. This Buddha's teaching*** will eventually pass away. Another Buddha will eventually arise, teach, and his teaching will eventually pass away. And so on. Buddhas teach even though they know their teachings will fall apart because it's the only way; it's just the nature of things.

I think you've got it right about his compassion: it's a compassion and love that none of us can fully fathom.

***NB that by "teaching" I mean the actual words and living people who practice the Dhamma, not the Dhamma in the sense of the "things as they really are".
Peace,
James


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