Then you may not have taken the Buddha's teachings entirely to heart.
I'm not offended, but, out of line, bro. How is something like that constructive?
Queequeg wrote:For one, suffering here is a qualitative, subjective characterization, which while a compelling one to an extent, is not necessarily true for everyone. There are many people who, though not enlightened by Buddhist standards, have reflected on their life, settled in equanimity, and come to a conclusion about all this - "Its life." Neither good, nor bad. It just is what it is. With that conclusion, they go on living in many different ways, taking the joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies, in stride. With the First Noble Truth undermined, the rest of it falls apart.
Malcolm wrote:This is all just a mass of suffering... Buddha did not say "life is suffering", he said "sarva dukkham", everything is suffering.
The problems with statements like "Everything is X" is that it is basically meaningless. No offense, but its the kind of statement I would have made as a brooding 15 year old: "This sucks. That sucks. Everything sucks." The whole world is marked by suffering/suckiness. What does that mean precisely, except that one is proposing a universal framework in which to subjectively view everything. Dukkha, Dukkha, Dukkha... Take everything and see it as this single flavor of suck. Problematize
everything. Why? Because you can't have a solution without a problem.
I'm told there was no "armpit" until marketers needed to sell deoderant. So they made up the concept. Now, you can't help looking at a guy wearing a wifebeater and think "armpit" when you see those gross hairs sticking out from under his arms.
Make no mistake, the Buddha at Sarnath was selling. Of course, like the latest iphone, what he was selling was an absolute must have for everyone on the planet, to let siri make their lives better. I'm joking, but my point is, whatever his motivation, and as a Buddhist I believe that his motivation was compassion for "suffering" beings like me, he was selling something, and what he was selling only really is effective if you agree to see things the way he wants you to see them.
I'm not an expert on Pali or Sanskrit, so I have no idea if dukkha actually refers to a quality of subjective experience, but the term "suffering" certainly does. If everything is suffering, then photosynthesis is suffering. We're considerably expanding the meaning of suffering when we characterize a process in a plant as suffering. How about convection currents in the ocean? That's suffering, too? How about atomic fusion? Bringing all this under the category of "Suffering" is then redefining this term that is commonly understood to refer to a particular mode of experience into a reference to the perpetual motion of everything. But that's not really what the Buddha was talking about - he was addressing people's experience of the perpetual motion, and specifically addressing the dissatisfaction in having to deal with all this change.
If you don't start out thinking this is suffering, though, there is no suffering to neutralize.
There are plenty of people who never expected anything of life and wouldn't call it suffering. It is what it is. "Why I want to sit around with my eyes closed for and try to stop thinking. That's
My goodness. Queequeg, you have drawn the wrong conclusion from your example! It's not that the first noble truth is undermined, it's that the fourth noble truth has been partially followed, leading to a modicum of peace.
Buddha stated, "all things are not worthy of adhering to (sabbe dhammā nâla abhinivesāyā)". To the extent that people can sincerely let go and take things in stride, they have come to adopt and practice, at least partly, right view--the first aspect of the noble eight-fold path, which of course is the fourth noble truth.
A non-standard way of looking at the first three noble truths is to rearrange their order: 2,1,3 to give the flow: frustration arises, persists and passes away. Different kinds of frustration have different lengths of duration. In our day-to-day lives we experience frustration of a more-or-less fleeting nature. But frustration has deeper, more persistent levels resulting from: clinging to the aggregates, to self/other, to fabrications, and finally to ignorance itself. Fully following the fourth noble truth, the eight-fold path, allows us to break this more persistent chain of clinging, thus freeing us from more persistent and subtle levels of frustration.
So, to reiterate: your example does not undermine the first noble truth. It partially demonstrates the fourth noble truth in practice.
I thought people who come to the "right view", meaning a view that coincides with what Buddhists consider "right view", without treading the Buddhist path are Pratyekabuddhas? My understanding is that Buddhism accounts for such people because... they're there. If you want to characterize what they do as demonstrating Buddhist teachings, great. They may or may not agree with you.
Some thinkers have posited that you can't have Buddhism without belief in this model of samsaric existence. I don't agree. Notwithstanding, a teaching that falls apart when certain unprovable assumptions are set aside is at a severe disadvantage in a claim to Truth. I don't think all Buddhist schools of thought are susceptible to this problem.
Malcolm wrote:A so called "Buddhist" school that abandons the core tenets the Buddha taught is no longer Buddhist.
Maybe. Do you have an interest in enforcing proprietary rights to the label? I don't.
But who said anything about abandoning anything? Setting an unprovable assumption aside is not the same as abandoning. My point is, if you're whole claim to Truth is founded on the a priori acceptance of certain unprovable assumptions, its not going to be particularly compelling to those who do not already accept those assumptions. Setting something like rebirth aside is not the same as rejecting or abandoning it. You know, it is possible to not accept something and yet hold a neutral disposition. Its reality is unknown. What further implication can be drawn from its proposition? Proceeding as if it is true despite lack of personal knowledge is proceeding on faith - and I have no problem with that approach, but proceeding as such is certainly not compulsory.
Where did the Buddha demand faith in rebirth? I don't recall it.
This might be a good point to follow up on Jikan's comment.
Jikan referred to Tendai Daishi / Zhiyi's teaching on the five periods/five flavors.
I think, though, that some other systems of categorization Zhiyi proposed might be more illustrative about a lot of the questions here. The Four Teachings of Doctrine and Four Teachings of Method I think are even more relevant/informative on the subject.
The former basically categorizes teachings based on the prevailing interpretation of anatman/sunyata. If you get caught up in the details of whether he is correctly categorizing a particular sutra or school, you'll miss his arguments. The first and second categories place an unbalanced emphasis on Anatman/Sunyata. The third category balances the absolute and conditioned, but does not fully integrate the two modes of consciousness. The Fourth fully integrates absolute and conditioned. I'm sure that makes little sense in that short description. I'm sorry I really can't do much better in the space of a post.
The latter categorizes teachings based on the method employed by the Buddha in relation to the audience he is addressing - whether he's speaking in terms specific to the person addressed, whether he is resorting to commonly understood conventions, whether he is remediating wrong views, or whether he is speaking his enlightenment directly. These categories are from the Ta Chi Tu Lun, the commentary on one of the Prajna Sutras attributed to Nagarjuna. A particular teaching may be one or a combination of these methods.
One of the most important aspects of Zhiyi's thought, in my opinion, is this certain logic of mutuality that pervades all of his major doctrines. In terms of Buddha's teachings, he places a great emphasis on a teaching arising as a particular interaction between a person of such and such capacity and character and the Buddha. Everything is hypercontextual (this emphasis might be one of the great contributions to Buddhist thought) and mutually identifiable, to the point that abstraction is impossible. Nothing can be understood outside of its context. That's basic pratityasamutpada, but Zhiyi takes it to another level. His exposition on this theme is, to me, profoundly engaging. We are very fortunate that his magnus opus, Mohochihkuan, has been translated into English and will be published in its entirety soon.
Returning to the contextual nature of everything, in this view, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, but depending on one's capacity, it had different meanings specific to the needs of the listener. Sherab Dorje responded in the previous thread that such alternative interpretations are due to the ignorance of the listener attempting to misinterpret the teaching to reinforce their mistaken views. That's a way to look at it, I suppose. Zhiyi would have taken a more compassionate view and would say that each person gets what they need from the teaching as they incrementally proceed on the path to Buddhahood.
In this respect, then, the Four Noble Truths are upaya. They are teachings intended to draw the person toward full blown awakening of the Buddha. Its not that the Four Noble Truths are not True. Its that they are teachings that arise (through the interaction of Buddha and unenlightened person) in a particular circumstance. In that circumstance, they are wholly true. They cannot be divorced from that circumstance. In this scheme, the Four Noble Truths are primarily a teaching for Sravakas. Its not that they are not true for Bodhisattvas, but its not what bodhisattvas need to advance their path and so are more or less inert. By the same token, the six paramitas are not teachings needed by sravakas and so for them, the teachings are inert.
There are questions to be raised in my presentation - I see some of the openings for criticism. I just don't have the time to present the ideas in a fully developed way. If you're not familiar with Zhiyi, take my word, he was brilliant. Jikan I think will agree. Assume that the shortcomings are my presentation and not Zhiyi.
I'm not doing Zhiyi justice.
Malcolm wrote:He addressing the idea of inherency, not suggesting that it is all "upaya".