Birth is suffering, old age is
is suffering, death is suffering. Involvement with what is
is suffering. Separation from what is pleasant is
Also, not getting what one wants and strives for is suffering. ... [In sum,
the] five agglomerations (skandhas), which are the basis of
to existence, are suffering. (The
Experience of Buddhism, 33)
|The Buddha’s First Noble Truth is the existence of dukkha: pain,
suffering and dissatisfaction. At some time or another, we all
experience grief, unfulfilled desires, sickness, old age, phsyical
pain, mental anguish, and eventually death. We may be happy for a
while, but even when we feel happiness, it may be tinged with fear for we know that this happiness does not last. (Living Religions, 142-3)|
And what is the [second] Noble Truth
of the origination
of suffering? It is the thirst for further existence, which comes
along with pleasure and passion and brings passing enjoyment here and
there. This, monks, is the Noble Truth of the origination of suffering. (The
Experience of Buddhism,
- Was the Buddha a
pessimist? Why not try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain?
|The Second Noble Truth is that the origin of dukkha
is craving and clinging — to sensory pleasures, to fame and fortune,
for things to stay as they are or for them to be different — and
attachment to things and ideas. The Buddha taught that craving leads to
suffering because of ignorance: We fail to understand the true,
constantly changing nature of the things we crave. We grasp at things
and hold onto life as we want it to be, rather than seeing things as
they are, in a constant state of flux. (Living Religions, 143)|
And what is the [third] Noble Truth
of the cessation
of suffering? It is this: the destruction without remainder
of this very thirst for further existence, which comes along with
and passion, bringing passing enjoyment here and there. It is
passion. It is cessation, forsaking, abandoning,
This, monks, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. (The
Experience of Buddhism, 33)
- Do you agree that desire is the cause of suffering? Why or why not?
|The Third Noble Truth is that dukkha
will cease when craving and clinging cease. In this way, illusion ends,
insight into the tru nature of things dawns, and nirvana is achieved.
One lives happily and fully in the present moment, free from
self-centeredness and full of compassion. One can serve others purely,
without thought of oneself. (Living Religions, 143)|
- Does the elimination of desire
inevitably lead to the extinction of suffering?
- If suffering can be eliminated, then why do we
fail to pursue this as a serious goal?
common understanding of Buddhism is that it involves reincarnation. But
if we go back to the original insights of the Buddha, we don’t find
this teaching. What the Buddha taught was rebirth, not reincarnation.
Though they are often confused, they are not the same at all. ... [T]he
Buddha himself pointed out that this view [i.e. reincarnation] is
inaccurate and extreme. It’s called the eternalistic view — the view that
there’s an enduring self, a soul, that survives the body and persists
in some fashion, perhaps through reincarnation. But the awakened see
directly that permanence is never found, that the eternalistic view
simply doesn’t hold up. ... The fact is, within this one life span,
as we live from moment to moment, we are never a particular, unchanging
person. You are not the same person you were ten or twenty years ago.
In fact, you’re not the person you were ten or twenty minutes
ago. ... Our problem stems from our deeply held assumption that the words
you, me, I, and it
refer to some real aspect of actual experience. But the fact is that we
don’t experience a singular, unchanging self. With some careful
examination, we can see this. We can see that the self is a mentally
constructed notion — and a contradictory one at that. The Buddha spoke of
rebirth (the full term is “rebirth consciousness”), not reincarnation.
With each new moment, the universe is reborn, so to speak. Rebirth
consciousness is the awareness that this moment is not this (new)
moment. The person here now
is not the same as this person here (in this newly formed moment) now.
Nothing persists. Nothing repeats. Nothing returns. Each moment is
fresh, new, unique — impermanent. ... This observation, which is based
solely on immediate, direct experience, is simply incompatible with any
notion of reincarnation, since reincarnation assumes the persistence of
some kind of self or embodied entity. There is no way to hold a view of reincarnation without holding a view of permanence. Thus any view of reincarnation is antithetical to what the Buddha taught. This moment has been born again and again, innumerable times while you’ve read this chapter. Learning to see this, and not the recycling of souls, is the liberation the Buddha pointed to. (Buddhism is Not What You Think, 42-6)
When you open the mind to the truth, then
is nothing to fear. What arises passes away, what is born dies,
is not self — so that our sense of being caught in an identity with this
human body fades out. We don’t see ourselves as some isolated,
entity lost in a mysterious and frightening universe. We don’t
overwhelmed by it, trying to find a little piece of it that we can
and feel safe with, because we feel at peace with it. Then we
merged with the Truth. (Living Religions, 143)
might adopting the perspective of “interconnectedness” (as opposed to
“independence”) change the way one interacts with the world?
So who’s the pessimest now?
The Buddha’s path towards the cessation of
can be divided into 3 groups: