Simon E.
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Re: Suffering

Post by Simon E. »

dolphin_color wrote: Sat May 11, 2019 8:48 pm This is a basic question, but it's important enough that it seems I should ask for your input. The formulation of the First Noble Truth that I'm familiar with is found in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, where it lists a few causes of dukkha and then adds that "the five clinging-aggregates are stressful". It is on this basis that some say "Life is suffering", in addition to a few other concepts in the Pali. Others challenge this characterization.

I'm interested in the Tibetan approach to this topic. Is there a text that literally says "All of life is suffering"? What connections exist between this idea and emptiness? I'd appreciate any insight you have time to provide.
Dukkha is one of three signs or marks that Buddhadharma teaches are what characterises all sentient existence. The other two are anicca and anatta. Anicca is usually translated as impermenance..all is in permanent flux and change and our resistance to this fuels our experience of things as unsatisfactory..all that we hold dear passes.And nothing that arises has a solid unchanging”atta”, hence anatta. It is not that things in themselves, love, pleasure, cookies,a sunset, are bad. But they are impermenant, constantly changing and without a solid component.
So basically the meaning of dukkha cannot be understood without reference to anicca and anatta.
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Re: Suffering

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

So many good comments here!

I'd like to add, "suffering" isn't necessarily about negative experiences, but rather,
how we experience those experiences, regardless of whether they appear as being positive or negative.
For example, suppose you see a loved one who you have been away from for a long time,
and you are both so happy, you hug each other, and that hug feels so wonderful and joyful,
like you never want to stop hugging.
But, what if, somehow, you became stuck together?
Some kind of imaginary magic glue.
That same experience which was pleasurable before now becomes a total nightmare.
So, the point of this exaggerated story is that it isn't the events in life that we normally identify as pleasurable or painful,
but rather, how we experience those events.

A more familiar and realistic example might be this:
when someone you love dies, whether it is a human or the family cat or dog,
you experience a lot of sadness and grief.
In fact, grief of the loss of a loved one is probably one of the most painful, if not the most painful of all emotions.
Many people in fact, never get over it.
Yet, if you examine the essence of that grief, what that grief is composed of,
it is totally based on recalling the happiest moments you previously spent with that loved one.
And the happier the memory, the more painful is the grief!
The saddest emotion made up entirely of the happiest thoughts! Sounds crazy, but it's true.
So, how is it that recalling happy memories can cause so much sadness in a person?

Even if you accept the fact that the loved one is gone, those happy thoughts can still make you sad.
So, the point is, even the thoughts themselves are not what results in suffering,
but rather, the context, the way we experience those thoughts.
So, that context is the placement, the way the mind is set up, like some kind of mirror, to reflect those thoughts.

Thoughts are like water. If you pour water (or freeze water) into a round bowl, you get round water.
If you If you pour water (or freeze water) into a square container, you get square water.
So, buddhist practice has a lot to do with shaping that container, the mind.
If you shape your mind one way, thinking things are real and permanent you will experience events, good or bad, as suffering.
If you shape your mind another way, you will still, fully experience happiness and sadness
but you will experience happiness without depending on it,
and sadness without wallowing in it.
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Re: Suffering

Post by Loving »

Your post, PadmaVonSamba, reminded me of a story from the Zhuangzi:
When Zhuangzi's wife died and Hui Shi came to convey his condolences, he found Zhuangzi squatting with his knees out, drumming on a pan and singing. ''You lived with her, she raised your children, and you grew old together," Hui Shi said. "Not weeping when she died would have been bad enough. Aren't you going too far by drumming on a pan and singing?"

"No," Zhuangzi said. "When she first died how could I have escaped feeling the loss? Then I looked back to the beginning before she had life. Not only before she had life, but before she had form. Not only before she had form, but before she had vital energy. In this confused amorphous realm, something changed and vital energy appeared; when the vital energy was changed, form appeared; with changes in form, life began. Now there is another change bringing death. This is like the progression of the four seasons of spring and fall, winter and summer. Here she was lying down to sleep in a huge room and I followed her sobbing and wailing. When I realized my actions showed I hadn't understood destiny, I stopped."
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Re: Suffering

Post by Loving »

The questioner, dolphin_color, also asked about the relation between the first truth of dukkha and emptiness. I would say that emptiness suggests that all ideas are relative to a context or mental frame, and dukkha suggests that we frame things imperfectly. But I am no authority on these things. For those who know more than I, how can we understand the relationships between emptiness (is it interbeing, dependent origination, relativity, yin-yang?) and dukkha?
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