Samsara v.s. Nibbana

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby SDC » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:01 am

I bit my tongue as I read through a few recent discussions around here - specifically the ones dealing with world issues. I decided that instead of derailing those discussions I would vent in a separate thread. Who knows? Perhaps some share my view.

Look, I'm all for peace on earth. I would love to see everyone have freedom and be happy. There are some horrible things going on in the world and I wish that none of them were happening. I see how certain governments and policies encourage violence, oppression, greed, hate, damage to the environment, etc., and I also see how individuals do the same. The problems and the wrongdoings are obvious, but implementing solutions have proven difficult to say the least.

But please answer me this; where does it say samsara is supposed to be fun? Is the reality of our situation here not blatantly obvious? At what point does that truth actually come through in how we live; in how we talk about the world? Is a pleasant samsara our goal or the cessation of dukkha?

If you are passionate about making the world a better place, then by all means go for it. I wish you the best. We have seen many people make tremendous, lasting change for the better in this world, and with the dhamma at your side I am sure that there is a lot of good that can be done.

I have been looking for the source of the world's problems my whole life; always searching the outside world, sure that the solution was out there. And it was in a way. I found the Buddha’s teaching “out there”, but I was quickly instructed to look the other way - within. I am the problem, the whole problem. By taking the proper action this problem can be solved. For me, attempting to be “IN” this world is a nightmare, but I see it through the best I can. I extend a caring hand to anyone that crosses my path; I encourage positive and helpful change when I have the power to do so. But I am not going to burn my time here fretting and beating my fists at the failures of those around me, attempting to pinpoint what they are doing wrong. I know what it is like to misunderstand the world and my position in it. Seeing through that misunderstanding, even a little bit, is hard, so it is not a surprise that many in the world are having the same difficulty. All I know is that I have found something that is making a difference in my understanding and I am so fortunate to have had the time and the freedom to explore it. I wish I could bring everyone along for the ride, but I think I will be lucky if I can get one in my lifetime.

So I guess this is where some may ask, “Well shouldn’t the whole world have the opportunity you did?” Perhaps even more basic than that, “Shouldn’t everyone at least have basic rights? Shouldn’t that be the way the world is?” I wish it was, but in short, I do not know the way the world is supposed to be. Where does it say that is the way it should be? According to the Buddha, everything is quite accurate. IT SUCKS! Hence the reason we are attempting to bring an end to it all.

I am not sure how any of this is coming off. All I know is that I do not like seeing people getting all wrapped up. So there it is.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:07 am

Samsara is always a place of suffering, but we can't let that beat us down to the point where we don't even try to ease that suffering. We need to have a balanced, reasonable outlook that affirms both the intrinsically negative nature of existence and the need for compassion in the face of such inevitability. We can neither be nihilistic or utopian; we have to fall somewhere in the middle, acting from compassion with the wish that all beings be well.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby Dan74 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:43 am

So I guess this is where some may ask, “Well shouldn’t the whole world have the opportunity you did?” Perhaps even more basic than that, “Shouldn’t everyone at least have basic rights? Shouldn’t that be the way the world is?” I wish it was, but in short, I do not know the way the world is supposed to be. Where does it say that is the way it should be? According to the Buddha, everything is quite accurate. IT SUCKS! Hence the reason we are attempting to bring an end to it all.

I am not sure how any of this is coming off. All I know is that I do not like seeing people getting all wrapped up. So there it is.


Lots of shoulds, but when I focus on what is and do my best, lots of these "shoulds" fade away. Maybe it is different for you, I am not sure.

When the energy and the attention are scattered over the what-ifs, expectations, shoulds and ideals, we don't attend to the immediate present very well and this just perpetuates the cycle of frustration and disappointment. The world really reflects our mind - when the mind is at peace, you see the world as it is and it is changing, evolving, learning, growing. When you look at a sapling you don't despise it for not being a fully-grown tree. And when you look at a toddler you don't blame it for not being able to read, for doing silly things that toddlers do. It's the same with the world -it is as it is and the best we can do is do our best.

We are not perfect and neither is the world, but that's ok. Why be at conflict with reality? Neither the conflict nor the reality are permanent or fixed. Better see them as they are.
_/|\_
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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:48 am

SDC wrote:Is a pleasant samsara our goal or the cessation of dukkha?


Can't we have our cake and eat it too? :tongue:
It is the un-enlightened life that is suffering; if we have a society of arahants, there is no suffering. Is that realistic? No.
"Millions have died in the name of trying to make the world a perfect place." (original author unknown)

I agree with LY; I think there can be a balance somewhere in the middle. To give an example, if we are walking down the sidewalk after just buying 2 sandwiches from a fast food place and come to a homeless hungry person lying on the sidewalk in our path, do we step over him? Probably not. Do we bring him home and let him stay in our spare bedroom? Probably not a good idea either. There is a middle balanced way by giving him our extra sandwich and moving along. Does that change the world? No, but is it compassionate in some small way? Yes.

At a more macro level, we can support things which make the world a better place, but does that mean we should utilize force and wars to do so? No.
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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:04 am

Greetings SDC,

SDC wrote:I am not sure how any of this is coming off. All I know is that I do not like seeing people getting all wrapped up. So there it is.

I hear you. I created a topic back at E-Sangha once with a topic like "Dispassionate engagement" or something along those lines, because people who were "getting all wrapped up" in such things, were arguably creating more suffering for themselves than they were reducing for others. (Unsurprisingly, they were the same people who eventually closed and then later deleted the topic :spy: )

To that end, the challenge seems to be to avoid creating meta-dukkha... i.e. dukkha about dukkha. Sure, there's no need to like that people get wrapped up like that, but similarly there's no need to perpetuate the cycle by getting yourself wrapped up in that very perception. It would simply be a case of becoming what we don't like.

All the best.

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: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby whynotme » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:31 am

I think to make the world a better place in large scale you need to be extremely wise, know about yourself and others at the same time. And you need other tool and knowledge of the tool, it is politics. There is something like Cakkavatti concept in Buddhism and it seems an idea about how a political leader should become, he is not only need good will, but also need good knowledge.

Frankly, I don't know why in so many years of history of Buddhism, there isn't any leader in nations, even nations that Buddhism is national religion, has tried or show the will to act like Cakkavatti as in many suttas have guided. Even some leaders are very good like Mongkut, the father of modern reform in Thai and Thai Buddism too, seemed didn't follow the Cakkavatti way. They didn't believe in it? Then why they did believe in other things of Buddhism? Well, maybe there is Asoka the best out there but I still think he is not on the Cakkavatti level yet.

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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby James the Giant » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:00 am

You are definitely not Mahayana then eh!!

SDC wrote:Look, I'm all for peace on earth. I would love to see ...

blah blah blah

Well, that's all fine and good SDC, just don't use it as an excuse to be either (A) apathetic, or (B) indifferent to the very real suffering of others, or (C) an actual active scumbag, making the world a worse place.

Just one question from me: are you having a positive impact on the world, or a negative one?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Samsara v.s. Nibbana

Postby SDC » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:46 pm

James, if you want an answer to that question, you would have to ask those around me.

Although you reduced my post to "blah, blah, blah" I am sure you read it all and didn't miss when I said:

SDC wrote:I extend a caring hand to anyone that crosses my path; I encourage positive and helpful change when I have the power to do so.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)
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