Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby NMRK32 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:28 pm

Dear brothers and sisters. I am sure that the title of this post has already gotten some of you flustered. But trust me when I say that this is not meant to offend you or deride your long and arduous practice. Admitedly, as you will see, the way of expressing myself and my thoughts tends to be a tad on the raw side. However I believe that when important matters that pertain to the human condition are addressed they need to be expressed in the daily 'vulgar' language of the people and their time, not in an ellitist, exclussive and overly cultivated manner. Every man and quite possibly his dog should be able to process what's being discussed. I have read countless threads that descend into a specialists-only discussion of the oblique cases of Pali instead of the matter that was originally to be discussed, leaving the layman and the more experienced practitioner often scratching their heads. So pardon my direct manner, and my lack of lengthy quotations from the sutras. Or the seemingly offensive nature of my questions. I am more interested in addressing your own personal wisdom, I seek your own light. I am not here to regurgitate what I have read and then bathe in your own regurgitated parchment and ink soup. So after my lengthy introduction that's hopefully clarified where I'm coming from, let's get down to business with your permission.

As Buddhists, there are certain premises that are fundamental to the practice of all of us. For the sake of a clearer exegesis leading to the points I'm about to make and the blasphemous questions I'm about to ask, please bear with me while I recount the basics of our practice.
1. Anatta: There is no self in any conditioned, dependently originated thing. Only a conventional, facilitating name tied to a form with its ever changing constituent parts that are also devoid of any absolute substantial self.
2. Clinging to this self as something substantial and real, whether enduring after death or perishing along with the body breeds stress.
3. Life is fraught with stress because we are trapped in this illusory world where we think we exist and we are caught up in a process of trying to satisfy it, protect it and perpetuate it.
4. There is a way out. The Eightfold Path. Destination: Nirvana.
5. Nirvana: A liberated state (?) of mind. Described as light, free, joyous, wholesome, ultimately so true that any description we attempt to asign to it will not do it justice and derail us from the path. Our ultimate goal. Why? Because it ensures we are no longer going to return to the world of becoming. When the body dies, our karma will not attach to another being, nobody else will savour the bitter fruits of our actions.
So far so good? Any objections on a fundamental, general level? I am not dumbing the dharma down, I'm trying to condence it for the sake of convenience. I swear down....
Now we come to my rant...
We are not really here in the absolute sense, right? My cherished little self is an illusion. There is no eternal John in this body. He's the sum total of his parts but even those are in flux. So he will not be here tomorrow, in ten years, in 50 years. Then one day this body will die, the skandhas will scatter, gone is John not only as a mental subjective illusion, but also in actual, biological terms. The brain will stop firing, the perception of the world by John will cease, the perception of John as John will cease, the body will be cremated, John's consciousness and its film reel will vanish. Yah?
Now depending on the sutra, the teaching or your own experience, whether it's relevant to you or not, we have three options. John's karmic stream will attach itself to another being, John's karmic stream will cease to flow as really there couldnot have been any stream without a source, or John having attained Nirvana in life, will enter his Parinirvana, not as John but as a liberated something/someone/nothing/no one all rolled into one. He will be unreachable and inaccessible, beyond words, truly liberated. But we can't say that John will be or that he won't be. Confusing stuff, but I guess I'll take Siddh's word for it.
And here we come to the point of this post.
If there is literally nobody at home to set free, then who is it I am trying to liberate? And who am I anyway? I am not really here so how can an illusion liberate itself by discerning the fact that it's unreal? What am I trying to liberate me from? Life? Why? Because it's stressful? Because it's bittersweet and ultimately unsatisfactory? So what if? I am not really here, but unless I'm beset by some ultimate mega misfortune, it feels quite an alright place to be. Yes it's stressful. A plate of vindaloo is nothing more than handfuls of stuff that burn your mouth but despite the sweating and puffing, it's still pretty tasty and you still come back for seconds, unless you are of a weaker disposition and you seriously can't take the spice. Life is what I've come into, one way or another, why is it such a bad thing to enjoy? Do I need to be liberated from myself? Do I need an eightfold path, or do I simply need to man up, accept the bad with the good and make peace with the fact that one day the show will be over? Do I need the dharma, or just a thicker skin? Selfish, egotistic you might think. Agreed, but since I'm not here really, does it matter? To whom? Me? I'm an illusion, who cares? If I die and that's it then I surely won't care when I'm gone, if I continue, then sweet, I get a second ride. And a third, and a fourth....and so does anyone I screw over during my life time. Where does morality come in? Why should it?
Yeah but my skandhas might resurface and attach to another being, why would I want to condemn this new being that's come from me, kinda, into this tearful torture of becoming? I should know better than that as I'm already suffering, shouldn't I sympathise?
Again, why should I care really? I'm not here now, I won't be here then, s/he won't really be here either so does it really matter? To me it seems as if compassion, this quintessential Buddhist virtue that made Gautama himself tread the path is pointless and meaningless as per his own exegesis. It only makes sense if indeed there is a knower, and a feeler and a thinker and a sympathiser and an experiencer in actual terms who may either continue or cease after physical dissolution for there to be an actual motive to practice in the first place.
Maybe this someone is not my presently perceived John Adams who will one day be Chantelle De Vaughn, and then Xing Zheng Chiu. Maybe this someone is in flux, and unconditioned but in ontological terms always present and on the receiving end of all experience including liberation. But that someone must exist for any practice to make sense, including Buddhism. Otherwise, motive, goes bye bye. How can an illusion liberate itself from illusion and why or how would it want to? How would it know it has? How would it be sure that it's simply not deluding itself again?
I know, speculation you'll say. But perhaps speculation is necessary.
The Buddha speculated that he had experienced past lifetimes, he speculated that he liberated himself, that his path leads to salvation. What if himself was deluded? A victim of his own logical argumentation? Like the logical conundrum of Achiles and the turtle? Empirical logic needs but to miss one tiny parameter or variable amd end up being tremendously wrong. What if, the task of looking for yourself was doomed to failure in the first place? A knife won't cut itself, water will not wet itself and fire won't burn itself. Why and how would the self manage to pinpoint and know itself? Wouldn't it be too busy trying to look for itself in itself? The Buddha could have been calling his own number but as the phone wouldnt ring he assumed he wasn't really there. Couldn't that have happened? Could it be that we are all stuck in the loop that one man some of us love to call the perfect guru created for himself 2500 years ago?? Could it be that either the nihilists or the eternalists make more sense?
Before you cry "blasphemy!" please note that these are just questions but not necessarily assertions of dogma or actual crystalised opinions that I hold to be true. I'm simply playing devil's advocate to challenge my my own thought as well as yours.
And for those who say that all this rant is pointless as the buddha never bothered with ontological irrelevant questions as the point of his teaching is just the alleviation of stress rather than to discover whether there is a concrete or fluctuating actual "something doing I don't know what' behind all of this, then why do we have monks, ceremonies, sit down and chant sessions, funerals, weddings, blessings exorcisms and all other religious paraphernalia? Why isn't the dharma then genuinely taught as a no-self yogic strategy for stressed out people without any debate or implication regarding death and what happens beyond such as whether there is something that passes on and reincarnates or not?
So brothers and sisters, is buddhism in need of a 'soul' with all its scriptures, monks, monasteries, ceremonies, morality and holy men? Or does it need a makeover simply as a method for relaxation even at the face of our ultimate doom?
As it stands today, in my humble and quite possibly deluded opinion, I am beginning to suspect that it has no point to make, no purpose to serve and we could all possibly be wasting our time when we could be far better off being stoics, nihilists, hedonists or eternalists. Ultimately, none of these labels and their beliefs matter as we are all going to die (again) and find out (??) for ourselves, right??
What do you think? And I mean 'you' ....not the sutras.
Namaste
The annoying rebel child of the Dharma.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:48 pm

If you cling to the self, it is not an illusion to you; it is very real and so is the dukkha.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Bakmoon » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:01 pm

NMRK32 wrote:If there is literally nobody at home to set free, then who is it I am trying to liberate?


I think that this is the essential point to address here. In short, although there is no ultimately existing self, dukkha does exist ultimately, and so does liberation from dukkha, so even without an ultimately existing self, there is still a problem and a solution to that problem.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby waterchan » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:01 pm

Hi, and welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

Would you mind editing your post to make it more readable by spacing paragraphs?

The wall of text hit me in the face, and that is definitely not an illusion!
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:07 pm

I am sure that the title of this post has already gotten some of you flustered.


No, we're Buddhists. We don't do fluster.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby waterchan » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:10 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
I am sure that the title of this post has already gotten some of you flustered.


No, we're Buddhists. We don't do fluster.


In an ideal world, that would be true.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:10 pm

If being happier, more content, more peaceful and less of a burden to oneself and others is important to you, then yes, there is a point in practicing buddhism.
As a philosophy alone, its better than many others, but still just more thinking.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby culaavuso » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:26 pm

NMRK32 wrote:If there is literally nobody at home to set free, then who is it I am trying to liberate? And who am I anyway? I am not really here so how can an illusion liberate itself by discerning the fact that it's unreal? What am I trying to liberate me from? Life? Why? Because it's stressful?

Stress is unpleasant. If there is a goal of ending the unpleasantness of experience, that is the point in practicing Buddhism. The goal of Buddhism is not to "liberate your self" or to answer the question "who am I?". Looking for those answers in Buddhism is like looking for an explanation of quantum gravity in an art text book. It's just not the same subject. The point in practice is to end stress. Questions about self and life of this sort are beside the point. There is choice in the matter. Stress doesn't need to be ended, but there is a path of practice available towards that end. If there is no intention to end stress, choices can be made that do not follow the Buddhist path.

NMRK32 wrote:So brothers and sisters, is buddhism in need of a 'soul' with all its scriptures, monks, monasteries, ceremonies, morality and holy men? Or does it need a makeover simply as a method for relaxation even at the face of our ultimate doom?

Neither. Belief in a soul does not lead to the complete ending of stress, nor does simple relaxation. The freedom of choice leading in those directions is available, but that is not the eightfold path leading to the cessation of stress.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:43 pm

NMRK32 wrote:As Buddhists, there are certain premises that are fundamental to the practice of all of us. For the sake of a clearer exegesis leading to the points I'm about to make and the blasphemous questions I'm about to ask, please bear with me while I recount the basics of our practice.
1. Anatta: There is no self in any conditioned, dependently originated thing. Only a conventional, facilitating name tied to a form with its ever changing constituent parts that are also devoid of any absolute substantial self.
2. Clinging to this self as something substantial and real, whether enduring after death or perishing along with the body breeds stress.
3. Life is fraught with stress because we are trapped in this illusory world where we think we exist and we are caught up in a process of trying to satisfy it, protect it and perpetuate it.
4. There is a way out. The Eightfold Path. Destination: Nirvana.
5. Nirvana: A liberated state (?) of mind. Described as light, free, joyous, wholesome, ultimately so true that any description we attempt to asign to it will not do it justice and derail us from the path. Our ultimate goal. Why? Because it ensures we are no longer going to return to the world of becoming. When the body dies, our karma will not attach to another being, nobody else will savour the bitter fruits of our actions.
So far so good? Any objections on a fundamental, general level? I am not dumbing the dharma down, I'm trying to condence it for the sake of convenience. I swear down....


Hi NMRK,

The above seem more or less OK, but:

We are not really here in the absolute sense, right? My cherished little self is an illusion. There is no eternal John in this body. He's the sum total of his parts but even those are in flux. So he will not be here tomorrow, in ten years, in 50 years. Then one day this body will die, the skandhas will scatter, gone is John not only as a mental subjective illusion, but also in actual, biological terms. The brain will stop firing, the perception of the world by John will cease, the perception of John as John will cease, the body will be cremated, John's consciousness and its film reel will vanish. Yah?
Now depending on the sutra, the teaching or your own experience, whether it's relevant to you or not, we have three options. John's karmic stream will attach itself to another being, John's karmic stream will cease to flow as really there couldnot have been any stream without a source, or John having attained Nirvana in life, will enter his Parinirvana, not as John but as a liberated something/someone/nothing/no one all rolled into one. He will be unreachable and inaccessible, beyond words, truly liberated. But we can't say that John will be or that he won't be. Confusing stuff, but I guess I'll take Siddh's word for it.


At this point and afterwards, it seems like you began to try write through the lens of self:

"We are not really here;" "My cherished little self is an illusion;" "There is no eternal John in this body;"

"He will not be here tomorrow;"

"Gone is John not only as a mental subjective illusion, but also in actual, biological terms;"

"The perception of John as John will cease;" "John's consciousness and its film reel will vanish;"

"John's karmic stream will attach itself to another being;" "John's karmic stream will cease to flow;" "John having attained Nirvana . . . not as John but as a liberated something;" "He will be unreachable and inaccessible;"

"But we can't say that John will be or he won't be."

And so on...

All of these seem to be constructed from the viewpoint of self. It seemed like you got yourself ensnared in them, creating confusion. (One of the three poisons in a practice.) This affirms the point #2 in the first quote above, doesn't it?

:anjali:
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Coyote » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:59 pm

I admit, I haven't read all of your post. So forgive me if I misinterpret. But a lot of what you say comes down to faith/confidence. If you don't have faith in the triple gem - The Buddha as an enlightened teacher of the Dhamma, that has been practiced by the wise and can be practiced by you (sangha), then the path is not going to interest you, in fact, it might seem like a lot of nonsense. My non-professional advice would be to ask yourself if you want to follow the path of the Buddha. If so, put any complicated unanswerable questions out of mind for the time being, and read/recite his teachings, do some chanting, meditation - whatever it is that gives you confidence in the Buddha. Keep sila, and be generous, loving to all beings (metta). Even if you are not perfect, this gives a really deep sense of well-being might be what you are looking for.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:01 pm

You want an answer without any regurgitated parchment and ink soup. That is good. So here is my answer to your question, with no sutta reference and no Pali: Yes.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby SDC » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:21 pm

Uhhh, I don't know about the rest of you, but I practice so I have something to talk about on teh intrawebz. I mean, what else is there????
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Jetavan » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:24 pm

NMRK32 wrote:Dear brothers and sisters. I am sure that the title of this post has already gotten some of you flustered. But trust me when I say that this is not meant to offend you or deride your long and arduous practice. Admitedly, as you will see, the way of expressing myself and my thoughts tends to be a tad on the raw side. However I believe that when important matters that pertain to the human condition are addressed they need to be expressed in the daily 'vulgar' language of the people and their time, not in an ellitist, exclussive and overly cultivated manner. Every man and quite possibly his dog should be able to process what's being discussed. I have read countless threads that descend into a specialists-only discussion of the oblique cases of Pali instead of the matter that was originally to be discussed, leaving the layman and the more experienced practitioner often scratching their heads. So pardon my direct manner, and my lack of lengthy quotations from the sutras. Or the seemingly offensive nature of my questions. I am more interested in addressing your own personal wisdom, I seek your own light. I am not here to regurgitate what I have read and then bathe in your own regurgitated parchment and ink soup. So after my lengthy introduction that's hopefully clarified where I'm coming from, let's get down to business with your permission.

As Buddhists, there are certain premises that are fundamental to the practice of all of us. For the sake of a clearer exegesis leading to the points I'm about to make and the blasphemous questions I'm about to ask, please bear with me while I recount the basics of our practice.
1. Anatta: There is no self in any conditioned, dependently originated thing. Only a conventional, facilitating name tied to a form with its ever changing constituent parts that are also devoid of any absolute substantial self.
2. Clinging to this self as something substantial and real, whether enduring after death or perishing along with the body breeds stress.
3. Life is fraught with stress because we are trapped in this illusory world....
I don't see how you got from the idea the world is conditioned and dependently arising, to the idea that the world is an "illusion".
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:45 pm

NMRK32 wrote:For the sake of a clearer exegesis leading to the points I'm about to make and the blasphemous questions I'm about to ask, please bear with me while I recount the basics of our practice.
1. Anatta: There is no self in any conditioned, dependently originated thing. Only a conventional, facilitating name tied to a form with its ever changing constituent parts that are also devoid of any absolute substantial self.


We can talk about individual beings without having to speak of permanent selves thereby, so there's no need to posit momentary flux of components or any such. There's a given individual body seen standing with consciousness, and for the average one there's stress of various sorts (dukkha).

2. Clinging to this self as something substantial and real, whether enduring after death or perishing along with the body breeds stress.


One sort of stress, I suppose, but 'substantial' and 'real' are odd terms to bother with...

Other sorts of stress include e.g. sickness, aging, death, separation from what is desired, the presence of what is undesired, and in short the five aggregates when acting as fuel for craving, whether of a self or sensuality or otherwise.

3. Life is fraught with stress because we are trapped in this illusory world where we think we exist and we are caught up in a process of trying to satisfy it, protect it and perpetuate it.


This is a little complex, with many unspoken premises. This is probably related to the 'real' talk earlier. Better to set this phrasing aside, instead refining the previous point re: dukkha in terms of the empirical human condition. An integrated understanding of dukkha is part of the practice, in fact, so it makes for time well-spent.

4. There is a way out. The Eightfold Path. Destination: Nirvana.


Instead of destination, think "result".

5. Nirvana: A liberated state (?) of mind. Described as light, free, joyous, wholesome, ultimately so true that any description we attempt to asign to it will not do it justice and derail us from the path. Our ultimate goal. Why? Because it ensures we are no longer going to return to the world of becoming. When the body dies, our karma will not attach to another being, nobody else will savour the bitter fruits of our actions.


Nibbana: the cessation of greed, hate, & delusion. The cessation of thirsting and craving. The cessation of kamma.

So far so good?


:thinking:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:21 pm

Hello and welcome.

Excelent questions.

Consider this analogy. I know it's somewhat flawed, but most analogies are. What is France? Well you have the idea in your mind of what it is. But let's break it down. Is France characterised by its borders? No, they have changed many times. Is it characterised by its language? No, more countries speak it and it's changing; slowly, but it's changing. Is it characterised by its political regime? No. It was a monarchy, then a republic, then an empire, then a republic again. Is it characterised by its cultural values? No. We all know these change with time and are not even necessarily coherent. So what the hell is France? Because of the above, no matter what angle we aproach France, we realise it's a convention. On the ultimate level, this convention doesn't exist per se. But France is, at the moment, on the map, the french speak french, they are a republic, and they have a series of cultural values that are present in France.

Emptiness seems complicated but I think it's this simple: we see things as conventions and these do not exist. It's not the things that do not exist. It's the conventions. Why is it sooooo important, then? Well, do you think that, if the french and/or their neighbouring countries, really knew, in their heart and bones, that France (and their countries) is just a convention; do you think there would be wars between them? It would be awfully ridiculous fighting a war because of a convention. It would be ridiculous for a soldier to think of giving his life for a convention. Or to kill another person just because their convention is different. Yet millions have died because they didn't understand this. There was war, famine, disease and poverty. Just this seemingly-tiny shift in aproach would solve nationalistic wars automatically.

This is what happens with us. The "you" that you know is a convention. That doesn't mean that you don't exist. It just means that you are different from what you think you are. And that makes all the difference. If you knew this in your bones, it probably wouldn't occur to you to care so much if someone called you a good or a bad name. It wouldn't occur to you to live a life for the sole purpose of the satisfaction and protection of a convention that doesn't even mathc reality. That must be liberating.

On to the second point: there is a difference between not being atached and not caring. This is also very, very important, imo. For example, Dipa Ma, who declared she was a once returner (and was stopped by her teacher in order for her not to say more; we can infer, without much abuse, that she had more to say about that and, therefore, that she was at leat a non returner). She said that once she was liberated from this ignorance, she really enjoyed her life better. It's not that once you don't have atachment you become neutral. I interpret her testimony as saying that if you have wisdom you can really enjoy life, because you know it will end. Therefore you enjoy all the things that will end while you can, and don't suffer when they end.

Now, an "illusion cannot liberate itself". Correct. A convention is a convention. It cannot do anything to change itself. The flux that clings to this convention can let it go and see it for what it is: a convention.

Why work hard for this? That's a good question. Compared to the Buddha's time, we are like devas, in terms of quality of life. So it's somewhat natural that we don't see the need to work hard for this buddhist goal. There are two answers for this: 1- Although sensual pleasures are good, spiritual pleasures are even better. So if you're an hedonist, you better get into the real stuff ;) . 2- Will you be prepared if someone tells you that you have cancer and have two years to live? Are you prepared for the death of any of your deeply loved ones? Or are you prepared to have a terrible accident and be bound to a wheelchair? It all seems completely bearable for now. But we never know what the future holds. Maning up will probably not be enough if the future events are terrible enough.

Even if you think "why all this trouble for that supposed happiness? is that happiness even real?", ask yourself "Is my present happiness real?" The answer I found so far is that my mundane happiness is kind of a lie. If spiritual happiness is also a lie, well, it's a better lie. It's not the case that mundane happiness is not a lie. So if I ad to chose between lies, I would chose the one that maskes me happier. But, anyway, people who have experienced the more advanced stages of the path report a clear sense of reality. That what they are experiencing is concrete and real. Only one way of finding out.

Morality is, in my opinion, very different in buddhism than in christianity. Morality is not about sacrifice. It's about doing what is useful to your deeper happiness. It happens that what is useful to your deeper happiness, is also useful for others' happiness. So if you want to be a really commited selfish and hedonist, the best way to do it is by being generous and loving. ;)

And to the final question, for which I have no clear idea of how to answer: if there is no rebirth, what is the point? I won't remember anything, so why care so much? The only two things that occur to me as sensible are that even though sensual pleasures are good, spiritual ones are better. And we only know that humans (and probably animals) don't remember their past lives. What about devas or hungry ghosts? Can you guarantee that, if you're reborn as a deva, you will not remember a few lives behind, including hell? Are you willing to risk being reborn in hell and remembering and "being" your self, but sort of older?

Anyway, enough with my drivel. Maybe it's of use for you. It has been to me.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:16 am

NMRK32 wrote:/.../
We are not really here in the absolute sense, right? My cherished little self is an illusion. There is no eternal John in this body.
/.../

First of all, I really do make a point of not calling myself Buddhist, so take my input with this caveat.

I think you do not accurately present the teachings from the suttas, and that this is part (or most) of the problem you have with Buddhism.

A mistake on the level of theory leads to a mistake on the level of practice and that then leads to a mistake in realization.

I think it would take many many pages to explain where your interpretation differs from the suttas. Such discussions make up the majority of Buddhist forums anyway. So you're not alone. :)
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:19 am

Jetavan wrote:I don't see how you got from the idea the world is conditioned and dependently arising, to the idea that the world is an "illusion".

It looks like a popular Mahayana influence.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby beeblebrox » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:56 pm

Jetavan wrote:I don't see how you got from the idea the world is conditioned and dependently arising, to the idea that the world is an "illusion".


Hi Jetavan,

There is a discussion about that in the thread here: SN 22.95: Phena Sutta — Foam

I think it is good and worth reading.

:anjali:
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby NMRK32 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:48 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:If you cling to the self, it is not an illusion to you; it is very real and so is the dukkha.


But if I'm a conventional reference with no substantial svabhava then any perception of dukkha is also just an illusion ultimately. To me right now for instance everything is real because I see them through the prism of my normal daily self as a reference point and a prism. But if I'm not really anything more than a collection of bits and bats that will dissolve upon death anyway then dukkha isn't really happening to nobody. Nobody is really experiencing it as nobody was ever born really. I was never here.
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Re: Is there really a point in practicing Buddhism?

Postby NMRK32 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:53 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
NMRK32 wrote:As Buddhists, there are certain premises that are fundamental to the practice of all of us. For the sake of a clearer exegesis leading to the points I'm about to make and the blasphemous questions I'm about to ask, please bear with me while I recount the basics of our practice.
1. Anatta: There is no self in any conditioned, dependently originated thing. Only a conventional, facilitating name tied to a form with its ever changing constituent parts that are also devoid of any absolute substantial self.
2. Clinging to this self as something substantial and real, whether enduring after death or perishing along with the body breeds stress.
3. Life is fraught with stress because we are trapped in this illusory world where we think we exist and we are caught up in a process of trying to satisfy it, protect it and perpetuate it.
4. There is a way out. The Eightfold Path. Destination: Nirvana.
5. Nirvana: A liberated state (?) of mind. Described as light, free, joyous, wholesome, ultimately so true that any description we attempt to asign to it will not do it justice and derail us from the path. Our ultimate goal. Why? Because it ensures we are no longer going to return to the world of becoming. When the body dies, our karma will not attach to another being, nobody else will savour the bitter fruits of our actions.
So far so good? Any objections on a fundamental, general level? I am not dumbing the dharma down, I'm trying to condence it for the sake of convenience. I swear down....


Hi NMRK,

The above seem more or less OK, but:

We are not really here in the absolute sense, right? My cherished little self is an illusion. There is no eternal John in this body. He's the sum total of his parts but even those are in flux. So he will not be here tomorrow, in ten years, in 50 years. Then one day this body will die, the skandhas will scatter, gone is John not only as a mental subjective illusion, but also in actual, biological terms. The brain will stop firing, the perception of the world by John will cease, the perception of John as John will cease, the body will be cremated, John's consciousness and its film reel will vanish. Yah?
Now depending on the sutra, the teaching or your own experience, whether it's relevant to you or not, we have three options. John's karmic stream will attach itself to another being, John's karmic stream will cease to flow as really there couldnot have been any stream without a source, or John having attained Nirvana in life, will enter his Parinirvana, not as John but as a liberated something/someone/nothing/no one all rolled into one. He will be unreachable and inaccessible, beyond words, truly liberated. But we can't say that John will be or that he won't be. Confusing stuff, but I guess I'll take Siddh's word for it.


At this point and afterwards, it seems like you began to try write through the lens of self:

"We are not really here;" "My cherished little self is an illusion;" "There is no eternal John in this body;"

"He will not be here tomorrow;"

"Gone is John not only as a mental subjective illusion, but also in actual, biological terms;"

"The perception of John as John will cease;" "John's consciousness and its film reel will vanish;"

"John's karmic stream will attach itself to another being;" "John's karmic stream will cease to flow;" "John having attained Nirvana . . . not as John but as a liberated something;" "He will be unreachable and inaccessible;"

"But we can't say that John will be or he won't be."

And so on...

All of these seem to be constructed from the viewpoint of self. It seemed like you got yourself ensnared in them, creating confusion. (One of the three poisons in a practice.) This affirms the point #2 in the first quote above, doesn't it?

:anjali:

Of course it's all constructed from the point of self. Its myself that I'm trying to logically convince, train and exercise in the dharma. If the dharma makes no sense to my conventional self then how does it differ from biblical religions where what is said is taken on faith?
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