Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

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Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby edwhys211 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:26 am

We have to learn lessons through numerous lives before reaching nirvana, and life is suffering, according to Buddha. Does that mean life is a bad thing that we must deal with and complete in hopes to escape it, or what? I understand there is much suffering in life, but there is also a lot of good.
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Re: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby manas » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:02 am

edwhys211 wrote:We have to learn lessons through numerous lives before reaching nirvana, and life is suffering, according to Buddha. Does that mean life is a bad thing that we must deal with and complete in hopes to escape it, or what? I understand there is much suffering in life, but there is also a lot of good.


Hi edwhys,

we need to be very careful when making statements about what the Buddha said or actually intended. 'Life is suffering' sounds like it springs from an immature grasp of the Dhamma, imho. As I understand it, the Buddha taught that:

There is this phenomenon of dukkha (ie it is experienced by us, it exists for us at this time)

The root cause of dukkha is craving ('thirst', desire) for sense-pleasures, for becoming and for not-becoming

If this craving is extinguished, there is complete freedom from dukkha - Nibbana

There is a Path to the ending of this craving, the Noble Eightfold Path.

Now, that's not the same as saying 'Life is suffering' in the often gloomy way that alot of people new to Buddhism seem to perceive it. (Don't worry, it's a common misapprehension, which I have also made myself).

A life lived in accordance with the Dhamma is good. A life lived in ignorance is not so good. I would rather put it that way.

metta :anjali:
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Re: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby Digity » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:30 pm

I would put aside judging life. Just ask yourself do you suffer? If so, do you want to free yourself from this suffering. If so, here's a path leading out of suffering. Whether we tell you life is good or bad doesn't change the fact that suffering is a part of life...even with all of its good aspects.
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Re: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby DAWN » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:16 pm

It not so bad, en real.
It's just rise, and disapear.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:22 pm

edwhys211 wrote:We have to learn lessons through numerous lives before reaching nirvana, and life is suffering, according to Buddha. Does that mean life is a bad thing that we must deal with and complete in hopes to escape it, or what? I understand there is much suffering in life, but there is also a lot of good.


“Life is suffering.”
This is one of the Big Lies of Buddhism—a claim assumed to be true simply because it is repeated so often—both in popular books and academic books. The phrase “Life is suffering” is supposed to be a summary of the Buddha’s first noble truth, but the first noble truth simply lists the things in life that constitute suffering: “Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.” (Quotation from Samyutta Nikaya, The Grouped Discourses of the Buddha, 56.11)
Life, you’ll notice, isn’t on the list.
The other noble truths go on to show that there’s more to life than just suffering: There’s the origination of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of suffering as well.
http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=22527

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: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby Jayantha-NJ » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:02 am

I think we need to be careful at all times when we use the word " bad" in regards to Buddhist practice. When we think " oh this is bad, or the buddha said thats bad" , we often have a western connotation of the word, and various translations using western concepts like " bad" and "evil" don't help.

as Dig said, we want to put aside such judging. If you feel dissatisfaction and dispassion and wish to renounce, even then you don't do that because the world is " bad" or lay life is "bad".

we create and are enthralled with dukkha because of our cravings, some wish to be rid of that, others do not, there is no inherent "badness" to either choice. We want to judge less and see reality for what it is more.
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Re: Is life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby Kusala » Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:17 am

manas wrote:
edwhys211 wrote:We have to learn lessons through numerous lives before reaching nirvana, and life is suffering, according to Buddha. Does that mean life is a bad thing that we must deal with and complete in hopes to escape it, or what? I understand there is much suffering in life, but there is also a lot of good.


Hi edwhys,

we need to be very careful when making statements about what the Buddha said or actually intended. 'Life is suffering' sounds like it springs from an immature grasp of the Dhamma, imho. As I understand it, the Buddha taught that:

There is this phenomenon of dukkha (ie it is experienced by us, it exists for us at this time)

The root cause of dukkha is craving ('thirst', desire) for sense-pleasures, for becoming and for not-becoming

If this craving is extinguished, there is complete freedom from dukkha - Nibbana

There is a Path to the ending of this craving, the Noble Eightfold Path.

Now, that's not the same as saying 'Life is suffering' in the often gloomy way that alot of people new to Buddhism seem to perceive it. (Don't worry, it's a common misapprehension, which I have also made myself).

A life lived in accordance with the Dhamma is good. A life lived in ignorance is not so good. I would rather put it that way.

metta :anjali:


Well said, manas!
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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 life a bad thing in Buddhism?

Postby drifting cloud » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:21 am

No, not at all. Buddhism teaches us to respect all life and in particular to value our human life:

Staying at Savatthi. Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings reborn among human beings. Far more are those reborn elsewhere. Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will live heedfully.' That's how you should train yourselves."


Nakhasikha Sutta

For more on this topic, you may find this article helpful:

"Life Isn't Just Suffering" - Thanissaro Bhikku
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