Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

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hyperpuppy
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Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by hyperpuppy » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:49 am

I am still new to learning about Buddhism, and trying to figure out whether some things that don't make sense to me are just difficult concepts, or if I am misunderstanding/misinterpreting them.

For example, ignorance, attachment, and aversion as the causes of suffering.

If I put my hand on a hot stove, it would hurt, and that would cause me suffering. Would Buddhism say that the problem is not that my hand is on a hot stove, but that I had an aversion to the pain and a desire not to be in pain? Or that I believed there was a me with a hand to feel the pain?

Either of those answers seems a little difficult to wrap my head around -- if I put my hand on a hot stove, there will be pain, and something feeling the pain, even if that something is not a permanent inherently-existing self. And it seems impossible not to have an aversion to pain or a desire not to feel it... and even if I did manage to make myself emotionally neutral on the subject of pain, it would still hurt, because that's how our biology is wired...

Am I misunderstanding?

If, for some reason, I was not able to avoid putting my hand on a hot stove, what would Buddhist teachings say to do in that circumstance to avoid suffering?

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:11 am

Buddhism would say there is a problem with not being aware of your liking and disliking. That's why so much advice from the Buddha centers around knowing "I am experiencing this emotion " etc. In other words, ignorance of one's state to the point of *identifying with one's likes or dislikes* is the thing to avoid. The likes and dislikes themselves are par for the course of being a sentient being.
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saurab
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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by saurab » Mon May 15, 2017 10:20 am

hyperpuppy wrote:I am still new to learning about Buddhism, and trying to figure out whether some things that don't make sense to me are just difficult concepts, or if I am misunderstanding/misinterpreting them.

For example, ignorance, attachment, and aversion as the causes of suffering.

If I put my hand on a hot stove, it would hurt, and that would cause me suffering. Would Buddhism say that the problem is not that my hand is on a hot stove, but that I had an aversion to the pain and a desire not to be in pain? Or that I believed there was a me with a hand to feel the pain?
There is nothing wrong with avoiding pain and suffering. It is a natural instinct. The problem comes when if you have hurt yourself, you remember it and think excessively about it, thus creating a deep mental impression about the cause of pain. Also, you should read up about the TWO TRUTHS (the conventional truth and the ultimate truth). Both these truths are to be perceived simultaneously. So, although everything is an illusion according to ultimate truth, according to conventional truth it is natural to avoid pain and suffering.
hyperpuppy wrote: Either of those answers seems a little difficult to wrap my head around -- if I put my hand on a hot stove, there will be pain, and something feeling the pain, even if that something is not a permanent inherently-existing self.
Even if there is no permanent self, it is natural to avoid pain. If you think that because there is no permanent self, let others suffer because it is all an illusion, what would be the basis for compassion ? Would you be compassionate if you thought that all suffering is an illusion ? Rather, the correct approach is to perceive both aspects of the truth (or both truths - conventional and ultimate) simultaneously when you see suffering beings in this world. Although their suffering is not real, they perceive it as real, and hence one must be compassionate.
hyperpuppy wrote: And it seems impossible not to have an aversion to pain or a desire not to feel it... and even if I did manage to make myself emotionally neutral on the subject of pain, it would still hurt, because that's how our biology is wired...
exactly, my friend. that is how our biology is wired, and this is the conventional truth.

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Queequeg
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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by Queequeg » Sun May 21, 2017 3:48 am

"Hey, Doc, it hurts when I roast my hand over the stove."
Doc (Buddha) says, "Dont roast your hand over the stove."

That's not the suffering Buddha has a prescription for.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

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Great for solving problems, after it creates the problems."
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dharmagoat
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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by dharmagoat » Sun May 21, 2017 6:37 am

I think it is useful here to consider a close parallel: Tickling ourselves has nothing like the effect of being tickled by someone else. When we tickle ourselves we feel in control, there is no 'other' threatening us, making us feel vulnerable. The same happens if we depersonalise our pain, no longer perceiving a "pain vs me", and allowing the pain to be "just pain" without feeling personally vulnerable to it. My teacher once explained it to me as "no head: no headache".

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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by KathyLauren » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:53 pm

Pain and suffering are two different things. In the words of the popular meme, pain is necessary ; suffering is optional.

If you put your hand on a hot stove, you will feel pain. This is a good thing, as it is a signal to your body to go into survival mode and remove your hand from the stove. The continuing pain after you have removed your hand is a reminder that you have sustained damage and that you should take it easy on the hand for a while to allow healing to take place. This is also a good thing. Without pain, you would suffer much more severe damage to your body, and would not survive long.

Suffering is the wish to reject the pain, the wish that it would go away. Unlike pain, which is necessary, suffering is something that you choose to do, and could choose not to.

I explain the Second Noble Truth ("The cause of suffering is attachment") this way: Sufferning is the wish that what is would cease or that what is not would be. Attachment (and its opposite, aversion) are the wish that what is would cease or that what is not would be or the wish that what is temporary would be permanent. They are essentially the same thing. The relationship between attachment and suffering is much more intimate than cause-and-effect. They are two different ways of describing the same thought process. So of course when you stop doing one, you stop doing the other.

A healthy attitude to burning your hand on the stove is to think: Ouch, I just burned my hand. The pain caused me to remove my hand, and that is good. The pain also warned me that there has been damage that I must tend to. I have now tended to the injury with ice, antiseptic, bandages, etc., so the damage has been mitigated. That is good. The continuing pain reminds me to be careful with that hand for a while, while it heals. That is good. The pain is unpleasant. That is noted. It will be there for a while and it serves a purpose, so there is no point in wishing it away. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

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cky
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Re: Is it unskillful to find things pleasant or unpleasant?

Post by cky » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:17 am

:good:

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