gad rgyangs wrote:
You think I should be careful about being "programmed" with a belief in karma? I think you may want to be wary of being auto-programmed by nihilism. . . or in other words, "anything goes."
I've been threatened with "hell realms" by fundamentalist Moslems and Christians too. It not a very attractive tactic, nor a convincing one.
No one was threatening you with anything. However, if you are a student of Buddhadharma you should understand the nature of cyclic existence and transmigration, which is vastly different from a Christian or Muslim projection of heaven or hell. I recall Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche giving a teaching in Walden on the text "Parting From the Four Attachments", which for reference I will quote:
“If you are attached to this life, you are not a true spiritual practitioner;
If you are attached to samsara, you have no renunciation;
If you are attached to your own self-interest, you have no bodhichitta;
If there is grasping, you do not have the View.”
These were words spoken directly from sambhogakaya Majushri to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.
While teaching on this text D.K.Rinpoche actually brought up the issue of Western Dharma teachers discarding rebirth.. and he made a very clear and powerful point that Dharma as we know it is completely lost at this point-- because ultimately as Dharma practitioners we should be focused on cultivating the fruits of practice for future lives, as opposed to the limited focus on achieving some immediate temporary benefit in just this single life. If we didn't believe in rebirth he said, we mine as well just rob a bank and escape to retire in a luxurious place in the caribbean islands. Why practice Dharma, when in fact the purification of it may cause us more suffering in this very life? These were more or less his words.
There are plenty of threads here on hell realms. My view is that I currently have a family member who already lives in a type of hell realm created by their own destructive thought patterns and chronic physical bodily pain. I've also had friends who were severely addicted to hard drugs to the point of sickening and emaciating their bodies to near death-- and they even physically started to look like pretas / hungry ghosts, but I am sure their inner state was similar to that as well. And of course there's plenty of examples of hell-on-earth, from the angle of extreme forms of suffering we can perceive in animal or human realms: whether it's animals in factory farms or children in forced labor sweatshops. . . not to mention war zones in Africa or victims of cartel violence in Mexico.
So it is quite easy for me to look at these examples in planet Earth human and animal realms and deduce that 1. our mental state / habitual patterns of mind can create great suffering 2. our physical circumstances as in where we are born / our environmental circumstances can create great suffering. And from there it is not a giant leap to accept the likely possibility that there are rebirths with even more extreme forms of suffering. Hell is an English word. You can use other words, Avici for instance.. but unlike Christian or Muslim versions of eternal damnation, these unfortunate experiences are also temporary, even if they are said to last quite a long time. . .
Some flavors of Buddhism apparently claim that a moment of suffering negates a preceding moment of happiness. Doesn't it make as much (or as little) sense to say that a moment of happiness negates a moment of suffering?
I don't think any flavors of Buddhism claim such a thing. And neither make sense.
you're joking right? you've never heard the "licking honey off a razor" metaphor?
I've not only heard of "honey on a razor blade" but I've employed it often in conversation because I think it is quite accurate. But it doesn't seem like you are interpreting it correctly. It has nothing to do with "a moment of suffering negates a preceding moment of happiness". There is no negating. It is about accompanying. Love is a perfect example, because in romantic love there is always a great joy mixed with deep suffering, whether it is the suffering of not having enough of the one you love, of fearing their rejection, or knowing of their inevitable loss. . . or even just all the misunderstandings and communication breakdowns and fighting. If you want a good portrait of the suffering of someone hopelessly in love, I recommend Roland Barthes' book "A Lovers Discourse"
Are you seriously claiming that most Buddhism doesn't portray "samsara" as nothing but suffering? There's even attempts to poison people's happiness by claiming that even when you think you're happy, you're actually suffering but you just dont know it!!!! There's a whole recent thread on "Make life Meaningless:" maybe go read the Nietzsche excerpt I posted there.
It has nothing to do with poisoning people's happiness. I think you may not understand these teachings well. I'll relate it this way with a personal example: in the most beautiful moments of love and joy I experience with my wife, I always have an underlying sense of knowing that these moments will end, and that ultimately we will separate: if not before death, than at the time she dies before me, or I die before her. So the happiness in a given moment derived from our union in love is also pervaded with the reality that suffering follows like a shadow. There's endless other types of examples, and it is merely an expression of the way things are, not a dogmatic attempt to rob people of their happiness. It is more about robbing people of their ignorance. I know there are people who will avoid thinking about old age, sickness or death until they are old, sick, or dying. . . but that doesn't mean they are immune to these realities and that Buddhism is a downer because it faces them head on.
And re: Nietzsche -I don't think you'll get far by quoting a nihilist philosopher on a Buddhist forum to contradict Buddhist teachings. Plus if you know anything about his life you'll have to admit he was an incredibly miserable man. Not exactly a good person to emulate if you are focused on happiness devoid of suffering.
I posit that there is a direct correlation between fundamentalist mentalities that claim exclusive truth for their conceptual system, and the deployment of tales of hell realms (both literal and metaphorical) for people who don't bow to their system, and don't support their priesthood in the lifestyle to which it has grown accustomed.
It is certain that threats of hell realms can be used in these ways, as can actual immediate threats with imprisonment, or torture in this very life(usually more effective). In general, the current priesthood is the sickeningly-rich, and anyone who outspokenly tries to assault the extreme holdings of the sickeningly rich to promote a more equitable world will be imprisoned, tortured or simply destroyed in various ways and senses. I don't think actual priests are holding much temporal power these days. Not much of a political tool in hell anymore. .
The wheel of life is the image of Buddhadharma, cycles similar to the cycles of seasons.. it is not to be confused with the threats or rewards of Eternalist systems. Nor should Dharma be confused with nihilistic extremes
In the Buddhist context, it functions as a mirror of our minds, not some empty threat. If we cultivate unhealthy negative states of mind and action then it will probably affect us in this life, but the momentum will lead us into an intensified manifestation of those actions mirrored in future incarnations. From a Buddhist view, these are all appearances, not ultimately real, a mere delusory cycling that can come to a pristine end-- so it is not at all the same as other traditions you cite.