Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

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nichiren-123
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Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by nichiren-123 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am

I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?

steveb1
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by steveb1 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:54 pm

My own trivial, tiny contribution might be to consult a memory of having read that there is, in Buddhism, a distinction between bodily pain and suffering. We might not be able to control or end physical pain, but suffering - as a kind of attitude - does not necessarily always accrue to pain. In that case, the pain-associated neural structures and processes would be intact, but the personal attitude would be "positive"...

madhusudan
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by madhusudan » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:42 pm

I am in agreement with steveb1. Also consider that maybe the English word "suffering" is not wholly descriptive of the meaning of dukkha. Lastly, a fixation on the material world is the zeitgeist of our contemporary milieu, but my understanding is that Dharma is concerned with that which is neither existent nor non-existent.

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:04 pm

I think there's pretty straight-forward answers to your questions in Buddhadharma. Did you perhaps intend for this topic to be in the Open Dharma forum instead of Academic Discussion?

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jaidyncasey
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by jaidyncasey » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:12 pm

madhusudan wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:42 pm
I am in agreement with steveb1. Also consider that maybe the English word "suffering" is not wholly descriptive of the meaning of dukkha. Lastly, a fixation on the material world is the zeitgeist of our contemporary milieu, but my understanding is that Dharma is concerned with that which is neither existent nor non-existent.
One of the first books I ever read when I was first learning of Buddhism was "Buddhism: Plain and Simple" by Steve Hagen. He helped clarify exactly what you say about the term duhkha in regards to the Four Noble Truths. Often people translate the word as suffering, and that has ultimately stuck for better or worse. In that book, he helps clarify what is meant by duhkha, and I would like to share that below.
Hopefully this helps a bit, perhaps it won't. Not sure, but I felt compelled to share this.
"The first of the Four Truths the Buddha described is caled duhkha (doo-ka). Duhkha is not easily translated into English, so once I've explained it here, I will leave it untranslated.
Duhkha is often translated as "suffering." But this only gets at part of what the word means, because pleasure is also a form of duhkha.
In Sanskrit, duhkha stands in opposition to another word, sukha, which means "satisfaction." Some people thus translate duhkha as "dissatisfaction." But this doesn't quite hit the mark, either.
Duhkha actually comes from a Sanskrit word that refers to a wheel out of kilter. If we think of this wheel as one that performs some important function, such as a potter's wheel, then the out-of-true wheel creates constant hardship for us every time we try to make a clay vessel.
In the Buddha's time, the accompanying image may have been of a cart with an out-of-true wheel being pulled along. You can imagin how uncomfortable it must feel to ride in such a vehicle. The repeated wobble, rise, and drop starts out as annoying, then becomes steadily more distracting and disturbing. Maybe there's a little pleasure in it for the rider at first -- a little bounce, perhaps -- but after a while it becomes more and more vexing.
The first truth of the buddha-dharma likens human life to this out-of-kilter wheel. Something basic and important isn't right. It bothers us, makes us unhappy, time after time. With each turn of the wheel, each passing day, we experience pain.
Of course, there are moments of pleasure. But no matter how hard we try to cultivate pleasure and keep it coming our way, eventually the pleasure recedes and the disturbance and vexation return. Nothing we do can keep them entirely at bay.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:32 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
Some people teach the Dharma in such a way that makes it clear that after enlightenment in-this-body, the body still needs to be "dealt with" as residue, saupādisesā ca nibbānadhātu, anupādisesā ca nibbānadhātu.

Those same some will explain that this is why the Buddha said "my back aches" before the death of his body.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Malcolm
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:36 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
Pain is not suffering.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Seeker12
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Seeker12 » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:36 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
Pain is not suffering.
How exactly would you define suffering? Or, alternatively, dukkha? Would it be reasonable to simply say that 'suffering' is simply that which is unwanted and leave it at that?

If defined as such, then 'pain' may or may not be suffering, depending on one's circumstances. To a BDSM lover, pain might be celebrated, but for that BDSM lover a lack of pain may be potentially 'suffering' if one yearned for it.
Better than if there were thousands of meaningless words is
one meaningful word that on hearing brings peace. Dhp

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:41 pm

OMFG
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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Malcolm
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:46 pm

Seeker12 wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:34 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:36 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
Pain is not suffering.
How exactly would you define suffering? Or, alternatively, dukkha? Would it be reasonable to simply say that 'suffering' is simply that which is unwanted and leave it at that?

If defined as such, then 'pain' may or may not be suffering, depending on one's circumstances. To a BDSM lover, pain might be celebrated, but for that BDSM lover a lack of pain may be potentially 'suffering' if one yearned for it.

In the Pali Canon, the Buddha experiences pain, but of course he does not suffer.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Kunga Lhadzom
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:48 pm

YOU "SUFFER" because you don't know what a Buddha knows. When you're Enlightened...then the Suffering ends....because The real suffering, is not other than IGNORANCE to the truth....

How do I know this ?
Because I suffer.
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by odysseus » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:32 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
Suffering in Samsara is too complex to just relate it to physiological structures in the brain.

Seeker12
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Seeker12 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:16 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:46 pm
Seeker12 wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:34 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:36 pm


Pain is not suffering.
How exactly would you define suffering? Or, alternatively, dukkha? Would it be reasonable to simply say that 'suffering' is simply that which is unwanted and leave it at that?

If defined as such, then 'pain' may or may not be suffering, depending on one's circumstances. To a BDSM lover, pain might be celebrated, but for that BDSM lover a lack of pain may be potentially 'suffering' if one yearned for it.

In the Pali Canon, the Buddha experiences pain, but of course he does not suffer.
No need to respond if not inspired, but I guess what I was getting at is that sometimes, when people look into Buddhism, they seem to get hung up on this whole 'suffering' thing. People might think, for example, that they want the 'good' with the 'bad', and they don't just want to be in some state of constant cartoonish smiling all the time or something like that, so this whole idea of getting rid of suffering doesn't resonate with them.

However, if you define suffering simply as 'that which is unwanted', then that is a very broad net.

If someone wanted pain and didn't get it, that would then be suffering. If someone wanted sadness, or a melancholy feeling, or if they wanted to feel the heartache that comes from the loss of a loved one but didn't get that, that would then be suffering. Similarly, if the thought of simply smiling all the time and being a bit of a caricature of a person is unwanted, if that were to happen that would also then be suffering.

If you define 'suffering' as an experience of that which is unwanted, then it seems to make sense to overcome suffering. But if it's defined as, say, pain, or any number of other things, then depending on one's context it may or may not be desirable.

Anyway, some thoughts. In part it's prompted by English translations of Buddhist concepts which I think don't always convey the meaning perfectly.
Better than if there were thousands of meaningless words is
one meaningful word that on hearing brings peace. Dhp

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Malcolm
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:36 pm

Seeker12 wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:16 pm

Anyway, some thoughts. In part it's prompted by English translations of Buddhist concepts which I think don't always convey the meaning perfectly.
Sukha originally refers to the ease with which a wheel turns on its axle. Dukha is the opposite.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Vasana
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Vasana » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:25 pm

Sallatha Sutta: The Dart

"An untaught worldling, O monks, experiences pleasant feelings, he experiences painful feelings and he experiences neutral feelings. A well-taught noble disciple likewise experiences pleasant, painful and neutral feelings. Now what is the distinction, the diversity, the difference that exists herein between a well-taught noble disciple and an untaught worldling?

"When an untaught worldling is touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. He thus experiences two kinds of feelings, a bodily and a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart and, following the first piercing, he is hit by a second dart. So that person will experience feelings caused by two darts. It is similar with an untaught worldling: when touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. So he experiences two kinds of feeling: a bodily and a mental feeling.

"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he resists (and resents) it. Then in him who so resists (and resents) that painful feeling, an underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he then proceeds to enjoy sensual happiness. And why does he do so? An untaught worldling, O monks, does not know of any other escape from painful feelings except the enjoyment of sensual happiness. Then in him who enjoys sensual happiness, an underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He does not know, according to facts, the arising and ending of these feelings, nor the gratification, the danger and the escape, connected with these feelings. In him who lacks that knowledge, an underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called an untaught worldling who is fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is fettered by suffering, this I declare.

"But in the case of a well-taught noble disciple, O monks, when he is touched by a painful feeling, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. It is one kind of feeling he experiences, a bodily one, but not a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart, but was not hit by a second dart following the first one. So this person experiences feelings caused by a single dart only. It is similar with a well-taught noble disciple: when touched by a painful feeling, he will no worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. He experiences one single feeling, a bodily one.' [...]


More
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nypo.html
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Stefos
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Stefos » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:36 pm

Dukkha does NOT mean suffering only......This needs to be qualified.
It is a multifacted word also meaning "Lacking, incomplete, missing"

In the Pali texts, Lord Buddha says "The 5 clinging aggregates are suffering"
This means that clinging is the causative for suffering not the aggregates in and of themselves per se.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what the nitty gritty of each so-called "Buddhist school" of today teaches.
Don't believe everything you read OR hear in so-called "Buddhist" circles people.

:anjali:

Stefos

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Malcolm
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:58 pm

Stefos wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:36 pm

In the Pali texts, Lord Buddha says "The 5 clinging aggregates are suffering"
This means that clinging is the causative for suffering not the aggregates in and of themselves per se.
The term is pañcopādānaskandha. Upādāna means "to take again," and bettered rendered "addiction." Thus, they are the five addictive aggregates.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

SunWuKong
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:29 am

Mostly humans suffer precisely because they are lost in samsara. And simply knowing this as a fact doesn't help too much. Humans must fully cross over from identification with this human form, the limited self, (the only me and me alone) and become fully human. It does not mean they invade the borders of other beings, it means they know they are beyond the borders in the first place.

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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:39 am

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
If you want to go down the "brain is mind" path then you also have to accept that the brain is responsible for feelings of bliss and ectasy too, not just for suffering. Maybe that part of the brain atrophies due to lack of use, like the visual cortex of a person born without eyes.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

SunWuKong
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Re: Physiological suffering and implications for Buddhist path?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:02 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am
I've been thinking about this for a while: if suffering is related to physiological structures in the brain then how can suffering end without the destruction of these components?
How does the acknowledgement of these structures effect the solution for the end of suffering?
My immediate thought is that suffering cannot be 'destroyed' but must somehow be 'accepted' in a way that reduces or effaces the original suffering.
What are your thoughts?
The brain is can be reprogrammed. One example is when i cut the tendon to my thumb, the doctor used a tendon from my finger and transferred it. He told me the brain will make the change and reprogram itself. There's lots of examples how parts of the brain "assigned" to certain functions, how these functions can be reassigned to other areas. There's exceptions, too. Loss of one part of the brain may result in permanent loss of the function. It all depends. The science of how meditative or contemplative practices (horrible terminology here) affect brain function is still just emerging. One of the things that seems to happen is left/right brain synchronization. Think of this in yogic terms ida and pingala, and how it leads to activation of the shushuma. So this goes beyond merely healing or accepting paradigms, its creating a functionality where there was none before quite like it. To summarize, "Practice Changes Things"

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