Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

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Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby qoheleth » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:32 pm

Sorry to start with a provocative title, but I have wrestled with this for a long time. In my "search" for the best way to live, no "path" makes as much immediate and practical sense to me as that of Buddhism, and particularly Theravada. I have studied it alongside many other traditions, Eastern and Western, and while I have tried to make meditation a part of my life for the last ten years, my practice has been inconsistent and my orientation rather confused. My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if you find this line of questioning offensive. Or redundant.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Digity » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:28 pm

The problems with life are observable by you. Even if Buddhism didn't exists there would still be death, disease and all the other kinds of suffering in this world. That's just a fact. Suffering is a fact. The Buddha didn't create suffering. It's just there. Buddhism isn't anti-life...it's just saying there's suffering in this world and there's a path out from this suffering. Would you deny the first noble truth about dukkha? To me Buddhism is just realistic. It doesn't sugar coat reality. It says it the way it is. If you want to label it anti-life that's fine, but all it's doing it pointing out what's really going on.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby perkele » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:59 pm

qoheleth wrote:Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is)

I would say that in the final analysis it is so. All is futile in the end except for the 8FP.
qoheleth wrote:a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

How could that be called nihilism if the noble eightfold path can be seen as the purpose that leads towards a final aim (nibbana)?
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:00 pm

Hello, qoheleth,
You are incorrect, but not totally incorrect. The goal is not escaping from life but ending suffering, as Digity said.
But the Theravada has often been accused of negativity - don't do this, don't do that, don't enjoy the other. The 'don't enjoy, don't participate' message can sometimes come through louder than the 'cultivate insight, compassion and equanimity' message. It's a fault with how the teachings are presented.

:namaste:
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:22 pm

Hello quoheleth,

Most religions accept that what they are seeking is better than what is now (therefore most religions accept that things are unsatisfactory now and can be improved upon).

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby nobody12345 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:21 pm

No.
Life and death are the opposite side of the same coin.
True Buddhism is anti-Samsara.
Metta.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby amrad » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:04 am

It could be a wester interpretation of suffering, dhuka or unsatisfactoriness. Perhaps westerners take it all a bit too serious. I dont know, but when I visited Thailand the people and especially the monks seemed deeply happy. Its hard to trans locate a thing as deeply rooted as religion.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:05 am

Greetings,
qoheleth wrote:My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"?

Yes, the object is to no longer "become", but precisely what becoming entails is a subtle subject. I think it's wrong to think that becoming is equated to the ontological existence or continuance of a 'sentient being' or "life", as you call it.

The responses you've received above, whilst being different, are all different ways of approaching your question. It would be difficult to find a consistent, standardised and universally acceptable "Theravada answer" to your question - much depends on key terms such as bhava (becoming), punabhava (repeated becoming) and jati (birth) and what they actually mean.

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: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:47 am

In addition to what has been said already, consider the things that Buddhism encourages us to develop: mindfulness, concentration, joy, patience, kindness, compassion, equanimity, wisdom, etc. These are things that enrich the quality of a person's life. The only thing we're learning to drop is delusion and fruitless clinging. Good riddance!
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:57 am

I recently found this interesting bit by Luong Pu Dulaya 'Dun' Atulo.

"Hasitupabada: The citta smiling without any intention to smile. This means that even when one does not intend to smile, the citta smiles on its own."

"The third motiveless thing of the citta, the self-smiling citta that has no intention to smile, arises only in the citta of the Noble Ones. It doesn't occur in the worldly people because this only occurs at the level of a citta beyond the illusions of the Sankhara. This citta is no longer concerned with the world of illusion because it understands the causes and conditions of the thought constructions. It is, of itself, free."

Self-smiling and free. Huh. That's not any kind of nihilism that I know of. :smile:

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Atulo.htm
"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
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby qoheleth » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:51 pm

Thanks for all of the insightful and encouraging responses. Much appreciated!
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:55 pm

Walpola Rahula, in "What the Buddha Taught", discusses questions similar to this. Chapters 2 and 8 especially.

The First Noble Truth is generally translated by almost all scholars as 'The Noble Truth of Suffering' and it is interpreted to mean that life according to Buddhism is nothing but suffering and pain. Both translation and interpretation are highly unsatisfactory and misleading. It is because of this limited, free and easy translation, and its superficial interpretation,that many people have been misled into regarding Buddhism as pessimistic.

...Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. If anything at all, it is realistic, for it takes a realistic view of life and of the world...It tells you exactly and objectively what you are and what the world around you is, and shows you the way to perfect freedom, tranquility and happiness.


Also later:

Buddhism is quite opposed to the melancholic, sorrowful, penitent and gloomy attitude of mind which is considered a hindrance to the realization of Truth. On the other hand, it is interesting to remember here that joy (piti) is one of the seven bojjhamgas or 'factors of illumination', the essential qualities to be cultivated for the realization of Nirvana.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Goedert » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:40 pm

qoheleth wrote:Sorry to start with a provocative title, but I have wrestled with this for a long time. In my "search" for the best way to live, no "path" makes as much immediate and practical sense to me as that of Buddhism, and particularly Theravada. I have studied it alongside many other traditions, Eastern and Western, and while I have tried to make meditation a part of my life for the last ten years, my practice has been inconsistent and my orientation rather confused. My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if you find this line of questioning offensive. Or redundant.


Buddhism help us to get out of conditioned becoming.

Maybe you are not aware, but you might conditioning your practice. Do not get so serious in the practice, be light on yourself.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby unspoken » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:44 am

Life is suffering
We practice to end suffering
Ending life=Ending suffering---thats what you think

Life is (got) suffering
We practice to end suffering
Ending suffering (in life) but not ending life itself--- that's what we think and what we do
:anjali:
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby AnonOfIbid » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:35 am

no
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby pinatapai » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:42 pm

Buddhism says that it is possible to get free from suffering. And it also says that it is possible in this very life.

That's even optimism to me...
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Kusala » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:16 am

qoheleth wrote:Sorry to start with a provocative title, but I have wrestled with this for a long time. In my "search" for the best way to live, no "path" makes as much immediate and practical sense to me as that of Buddhism, and particularly Theravada. I have studied it alongside many other traditions, Eastern and Western, and while I have tried to make meditation a part of my life for the last ten years, my practice has been inconsistent and my orientation rather confused. My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if you find this line of questioning offensive. Or redundant.


"As one teacher has put it, the Buddhist recognition of the reality of suffering — so important that suffering is honored as the first noble truth — is a gift, in that it confirms our most sensitive and direct experience of things, an experience that many other traditions try to deny.

From there, the early teachings ask us to become even more sensitive, to the point where we see that the true cause of suffering is not out there — in society or some outside being — but in here, in the craving present in each individual mind.

They then confirm that there is an end to suffering, a release from the cycle. And they show the way to that release, through developing noble qualities already latent in the mind to the point where they cast craving aside and open onto Deathlessness. Thus the predicament has a practical solution, a solution within the powers of every human being.

It's also a solution open to critical scrutiny and testing — an indication of how confident the Buddha was in the solution he found..."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... rming.html
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Pondera » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:21 pm

qoheleth wrote: My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if you find this line of questioning offensive. Or redundant.


Perhaps you feel, personally, that life is utterly futile.
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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Nori » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:07 pm

qoheleth wrote:I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?


I think you are correct in saying that Buddhists believe: (from Merriam Webster for nihilism) " that all existence is consequently senseless and useless : a denial of intrinsic meaning and value in life" other than maybe having the idea that it should be a beings goal to rid of all suffering permanently.

Buddhist belief is that there cannot be found any *permanent* satisfaction in life where one feels absolutely content and free from all suffering. I often wonder if it is a mistake to have such a pursuit (to be permanently content and free from all suffering) since suffering is *necessarily* inherent in life/existence, and there cannot be a permanent contentment and freedom from all suffering while there is life.

The Buddhist path is predicated on the idea that there is a lineage of rebirths for a being (or citta) and that somehow, one's volition/disposition determines where it goes, or whether it goes. Some view Nibbana (the final destination) as some sort of 'existence' while others see it like a flame going out.

In the Buddhist view, it *is* a positive path because you are supposed to become more content, and have less suffering every step of the way.

One consolation is (and I share your same concerns) is that he teaches that what you decide, should be based upon your own understanding which you have gained from experience.
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