Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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AgarikaJ
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by AgarikaJ »

Dan74-MkII wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:59 am I'd say that highfalutin notions like 'truth, clarity, peace and happiness' are indeed too much to wish for, and wishing itself often gets in he way, but the reality these words conceal is always here, waiting for us.
:goodpost:
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]
Srilankaputra
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by Srilankaputra »

binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:34 am
Srilankaputra wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:52 pm
binocular wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:59 pm No.
Do you mean not realistic for your self alone or do you mean for everyone?
Since one doesn't live in a vacuum, it's not clear how the two can be conveniently separated.

If the people among whom one lives and some of whom have power over one (boss, superiors at work, lawyers, police officers, doctors, senior relatives etc.) don't believe that "not grasping" is a realistic goal for a person to have in life, there will be at least tension, if not something much worse. Over time, people do make their beliefs known; sometimes in casual conversation, someone will say how absurd they think Buddhism in.

I think many (Western) Buddhists fail to understand just how outlandish Buddhist doctrines and the Buddhist goal are in comparison to what the world considers "normal".
And not everyone who is interested in Buddhism has a Buddhist community or even a Buddhist society as a soft cushion to fall back on. But instead has to make their life without the support of Buddhists and in an environment hostile to Buddhist ideas and goals.
What I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.

Lokāmisaṃ pajahe santipekkho ti
binocular
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by binocular »

Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:45 amWhat I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.
I think it is possible not to grasp.
I just don't think it is possible to live (ie. work for a living, having some kind of social life) in modern secular society while not grasping.
I also don't think it is possible to meaningfully set for oneself not grasping as a goal, while living in modern secular society.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between the ways of the world and not grasping as a goal is too large for a person to be able to bridge it. Either one will have to bow to modern secular society and grasp, or leave this society.

And I'm not even thinking about monastics. I mean, why beat around the bush? If you're going to commit to Buddhism in any capacity or amount, you're comitting to it because you believe it will take you all the way to nibbana, and not simply because it will make your life a bit more pleasant.

Taking the Buddhist path, but only because you hope it will make your life a bit more pleasant while not aiming for nibbana is like boarding a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York, but intending to leave the plane above Houston, Texas. If Houston is your destination, then why board a direct plane from LA to NY in the first place??
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
chownah
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by chownah »

binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:29 pm
Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:45 amWhat I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.
I think it is possible not to grasp.
I just don't think it is possible to live (ie. work for a living, having some kind of social life) in modern secular society while not grasping.
I also don't think it is possible to meaningfully set for oneself not grasping as a goal, while living in modern secular society.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between the ways of the world and not grasping as a goal is too large for a person to be able to bridge it. Either one will have to bow to modern secular society and grasp, or leave this society.

And I'm not even thinking about monastics. I mean, why beat around the bush? If you're going to commit to Buddhism in any capacity or amount, you're comitting to it because you believe it will take you all the way to nibbana, and not simply because it will make your life a bit more pleasant.

Taking the Buddhist path, but only because you hope it will make your life a bit more pleasant while not aiming for nibbana is like boarding a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York, but intending to leave the plane above Houston, Texas. If Houston is your destination, then why board a direct plane from LA to NY in the first place??
It seems that you are taking your own very narrow view of things and projecting it onto all buddhists. What you say does not seem to be what most buddhists that I have met are all about.....you don't seem to understand them very well....I think you should step back and evaluate whether what you say is representative of anyone other than yourself.....I don't see it applying to buddhists....if it applies to anyone it applies to people who have dropped buddhism as a viable path. What I can't figure out is why you haven't dropped buddhism and why you continue to post in your style.....are you trying to get others to drop buddhism?

Also, this is the connections to other paths forum.....what is the other path?
chownah
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binocular
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:57 pmIt seems that you are taking your own very narrow view of things and projecting it onto all buddhists.
I'm not going to defend things you merely imagine I said or defend stances you merely imagine I hold.
There was no such projection. I am distinguishing between different types of approaching Buddhism, and I do by adding qualifiers, specifying what type of approach to Buddhism I mean.
What you say does not seem to be what most buddhists that I have met are all about.....you don't seem to understand them very well....I think you should step back and evaluate whether what you say is representative of anyone other than yourself.....I don't see it applying to buddhists...

if it applies to anyone it applies to people who have dropped buddhism as a viable path.
And probably many people who identify themselves as Buddhists are in that category, having dropped Buddhism as a viable path, and who, instead, do Buddhism as a kind of hobby.
What I can't figure out is why you haven't dropped buddhism and why you continue to post in your style.....
Because some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

I'm taking some basic Buddhist statements and following them to their logical conclusions.

I think the Buddhist teachings (from the suttas) are too effective for a person to be able to read them and still stay in society and go on with life as usual. So what many people after becoming acquainted with the teachings seem to do is they "hit the brakes", they counteract the efficacy of the teachings by adding layers of doubt, intellectualization and such. And if they are materially and socially comfortable enough, then deboarding that proverbial plane midflight above Houston doesn't even hurt so much. They can afford to approach the teachings with the quiet expectation that "Oh, this probably won't really work anway, so I can continue comfortably in my old ways" and "Ah, this will take a lot of tedious work, so I can sit back and relax and do it little by little". The comfortable Buddhist doesn't have to take the teachings seriously.
But people who cannot afford such comfort will have a hard time fitting in among such Buddhists.

This isn't a criticism, I actually wish I could be like those comfortable Buddhists.

And don't worry, I won't be staying here much longer; I came to work some things out, and I'm nearly done.

Also, this is the connections to other paths forum.....what is the other path?
The OP was asking about reasons in favor of the view that Theravada/Early Buddhism wants too much, aims too high. Obviously, it is only from the perspective of some other path that such a question can be replied to.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
chownah
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by chownah »

binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:59 pm
I think the Buddhist teachings (from the suttas) are too effective for a person to be able to read them and still stay in society and go on with life as usual.
I think this is another example of you taking your own very narrow view of things and projecting it onto buddhists because reading the suttas and still staying in society is exactly what some/many/most buddhists do and yet you deny that these buddhists are able to do what infact is a very common thing for them to do...maybe it is YOU who is unable to do this..... As I said before "What you say does not seem to be what most buddhists that I have met are all about.....you don't seem to understand them very well....I think you should step back and evaluate whether what you say is representative of anyone other than yourself....." In other words, are the suttas too effective for you to be able to read them and still stay in society and go on with life as usual?

....and....don't worry, I am not worrying.

chownah
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Dan74-MkII
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by Dan74-MkII »

binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:29 pm
Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:45 amWhat I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.
I think it is possible not to grasp.
I just don't think it is possible to live (ie. work for a living, having some kind of social life) in modern secular society while not grasping.
I also don't think it is possible to meaningfully set for oneself not grasping as a goal, while living in modern secular society.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between the ways of the world and not grasping as a goal is too large for a person to be able to bridge it. Either one will have to bow to modern secular society and grasp, or leave this society.

And I'm not even thinking about monastics. I mean, why beat around the bush? If you're going to commit to Buddhism in any capacity or amount, you're comitting to it because you believe it will take you all the way to nibbana, and not simply because it will make your life a bit more pleasant.

Taking the Buddhist path, but only because you hope it will make your life a bit more pleasant while not aiming for nibbana is like boarding a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York, but intending to leave the plane above Houston, Texas. If Houston is your destination, then why board a direct plane from LA to NY in the first place??
Of course you are right that the society places demands on us and expectations that pretty much involve some grasping. I still find there is a great deal I can do to deepen my Buddhist practice while staying in society and what's more, society is a great training ground for Buddhist practice, since away from it, it is far too easy to fall into a kind of an escapist quietism, lanquid, dull but peaceful and mistake it for some kind of attainment.

With Buddhism, my experience has been that it is incredibly easy to misunderstand it. Even when one understands it very well on an intellectual level, without the corresponding practice, this understand is a misunderstanding. Our sickness, it seems to me, is that we focus much more on the intellectual, than the hands-on moment-by-moment practice, so that it becomes lopsided, out of whack, another thing to acquire.

Non-grasping is right now, when typing, when reading, when breathing. Keep it simple. One moment at a time. And if the moment comes when living in society is no longer the right thing, that's fine.
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by Srilankaputra »

binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:29 pm
Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:45 amWhat I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.
I think it is possible not to grasp.
I just don't think it is possible to live (ie. work for a living, having some kind of social life) in modern secular society while not grasping.
I also don't think it is possible to meaningfully set for oneself not grasping as a goal, while living in modern secular society.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between the ways of the world and not grasping as a goal is too large for a person to be able to bridge it. Either one will have to bow to modern secular society and grasp, or leave this society.

And I'm not even thinking about monastics. I mean, why beat around the bush? If you're going to commit to Buddhism in any capacity or amount, you're comitting to it because you believe it will take you all the way to nibbana, and not simply because it will make your life a bit more pleasant.

Taking the Buddhist path, but only because you hope it will make your life a bit more pleasant while not aiming for nibbana is like boarding a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York, but intending to leave the plane above Houston, Texas. If Houston is your destination, then why board a direct plane from LA to NY in the first place??
But you seem to have faith in the dhamma. I think what you need to figure out is what you yourself need to do. Not others. For my self I also have faith in dhamma and my determination is, let me do what I can. That's all I can do really.

I hope you figure it out and will not drop Buddhism or stop participating in this forum.

Lokāmisaṃ pajahe santipekkho ti
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Dan74-MkII
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by Dan74-MkII »

Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:25 pm
binocular wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:29 pm
Srilankaputra wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:45 amWhat I wanted to know is whether you think it impossible. In the sense that, Buddhism is wrong.
I think it is possible not to grasp.
I just don't think it is possible to live (ie. work for a living, having some kind of social life) in modern secular society while not grasping.
I also don't think it is possible to meaningfully set for oneself not grasping as a goal, while living in modern secular society.

It seems to me that the discrepancy between the ways of the world and not grasping as a goal is too large for a person to be able to bridge it. Either one will have to bow to modern secular society and grasp, or leave this society.

And I'm not even thinking about monastics. I mean, why beat around the bush? If you're going to commit to Buddhism in any capacity or amount, you're comitting to it because you believe it will take you all the way to nibbana, and not simply because it will make your life a bit more pleasant.

Taking the Buddhist path, but only because you hope it will make your life a bit more pleasant while not aiming for nibbana is like boarding a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York, but intending to leave the plane above Houston, Texas. If Houston is your destination, then why board a direct plane from LA to NY in the first place??
But you seem to have faith in the dhamma. I think what you need to figure out is what you yourself need to do. Not others. For my self I also have faith in dhamma and my determination is, let me do what I can. That's all I can do really.

I hope you figure it out and will not drop Buddhism or stop participating in this forum.
Amen.
Bundokji
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Re: Does Theravada Buddhism want too much from life?

Post by Bundokji »

I think one of the difficulties about Buddhism is that it has no clear use. I would not call it useless though.

What is the use of knowing yourself when you are no longer able to give an accurate account of it?

What is the use of knowing that you are unpredictable when you know that you have to act in predictable ways?

What is the use of knowing your insignificance when you have to act as if things really matter?

Different people would give different descriptions of what the real aim of Buddhism is (or what non grasping really means if it has a meaning at all), but i, so far, have no seen yet any treasures waiting for me out there.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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