Life and Death?

iBrian

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I thought I'd ask about Vaj's comments on this board, as it's more particular...namely on the issue of life and death in buddhism.

Is it not a Buddhist precept that our lives are meaningless illusion, and that death is nothing more than a rebirth into yet another karmic cycle?

Please excuse my ignorance, but I was almost under the impression that Buddhists perceived individual life of little meaning - that monks dedicate themselves to Buddha not because they care for the wider community, but simply because they are so abjectively against living as a normal everyday human being that they trap themselves behind vows intent solely on escaping a prison of karmic cycles.

In other words, my impression was that Buddhism promote the idea that all life is suffering, and those who live with continue to suffer until they get off their bottoms and do a runner from life.

Where is the flaw in that perception, and why do Buddhists actually care about life: individual or collective?

:)
 
Namaste Brian,

thank you for the post.

I said:
I
Is it not a Buddhist precept that our lives are meaningless illusion, and that death is nothing more than a rebirth into yet another karmic cycle?
ah.. i think i see where you're going with this... and, therefore, i think i see where the misunderstanding lies. we'll see if that's the case or not :) of course, i'll try to answer generally unless something pretty specific needs to be communicated.

whilst its true enough that death is simply rebirth based on karmic energy, remember, that in the full teachings of Buddhism, this concept of "death" is done away with. no death, no birth, no arising, no passing away, no 4 Noble Truths, no ignorance or ending of ignorance.

even the very conceptions that we use to express ourselves inhibit our ability to directly perceive reality. this is a very difficult thing to let go of.

now... talking about the illusions... it's not so much that life is an illusion, rather, that the way we view reality is deluded by our ignorance. for all intents and purposes, we can say that life, as we view it, is an illusion.. i.e. i mirage that does not represent Suchness. Suchness is reality as it is, devoid of conception.

Please excuse my ignorance, but I was almost under the impression that Buddhists perceived individual life of little meaning - that monks dedicate themselves to Buddha not because they care for the wider community, but simply because they are so abjectively against living as a normal everyday human being that they trap themselves behind vows intent solely on escaping a prison of karmic cycles.
almost completely the opposite, in fact! being reborn as a human is a very rare and precious rebirth for only the human realm has the right combination of causes and conditions to allow a being to practice the Dharma. i cannot speak, of course, for the intention of every monastic :) nor would i care to try. there are, of course, some differences between the monastics that adhere to the Hinyana Vehicle and monastics that adhere to the Mahayana Vehicle. the real difference is which path they are walking... Svaraka, Pretyabuddha or Bodhisattva. we xan expound on this aspect a bit later, if you'd like.

the monastic vows are, like many monastic organizations, quite strict and are designed to emphasize ethics and morality and really are designed for the minority of adherents. we could probably make a decent argument that, during the First Turning of The Wheel, Buddha was teaching a group that was inclined to the monastic path, however, it should be noted that Buddhism has always had the two traditions of monastic and forest yogi.

In other words, my impression was that Buddhism promote the idea that all life is suffering, and those who live with continue to suffer until they get off their bottoms and do a runner from life.
the actual term is Dhukka and means something more akin to "dissatisfaction" rather than suffering. suffering is a good English word to describe the physical sensations of Dhukka, however, it neglects the other connotations that this word has. literally, Dhukka means "thirst" or "craving".. and intense desire to have. so when we say that life is Dhukka, what we are meaning to indicate is that the process of life is characterized by dissatisfaction and craving to have what we cannot, to hold what we have and to keep what we have from changing.

the path of liberation is the Buddhas teaching.

Where is the flaw in that perception, and why do Buddhists actually care about life: individual or collective?

:)
hopefully, you've seen the flaw in that perception now... as such, i shall not address this yet. if you don't and another poster doesn't come by and fill it out, i'm happy to address it :)

Buddhists care about life... all live... individual and collective... not just humans though.. all sentient beings. the reason for this is found in several places... as you know, i'm not into quoting scripture and so forth, so i won't here... i can, however, if it would be of value.

to get to the heart of the matter... the desire to be of benefit to all sentient beings is, in the Vajrayana view, required to complete the Buddhist path. without this altrustic desire, which is called Bodhichitta, one can become Arhat, a Foe Destroyer however one cannot become a Buddha.

i'm off to an accupuncture appt so i will try to check back either this evening or tomorrow.
 
Namaste all,

brian, i hope you will not mind if i sort of continue some thoughts from the previous posting, prior to your response.

when we speak of life and death we are in the realm of conventional truth (see the post The Truths in this forum) and whilst this is a valid mode of expression, it does not represent the ultimate truth.

in the Heart Sutra, of which there are several extant versions...

an aside if i may, i have found that quite often alot of the sutras are cropped, so to speak, when presented on the web in particular and western audiences in general. the sutras begin with the words "Thus i have heard" and go on to list who, what, where, when and why... and then the teaching is presented. what we normally find is just the teaching...

is one of the foundational sutras of the Mahayana and it is this sutra where the teaching of emtpiness is completely expounded. it's a relatively short sutra, as such things go... there are sutras of over 80,000 lines :) this sutra is an example of a teaching of ultimate truth.

some of these teachings get rather dry and rely upon commentarial material for clarification, espeically for those beings not familiar with the context in which the teachings were presented... and this is a pretty important aspect of the teachings of Buddha... one that often seems to be overlooked. Buddhas teachings were given to a specific group of people at a specific place and time.. and for a reason. without these vital contextual clues it is sometimes difficult to gain a proper understanding of the teachings.
 
Thanks for the replies - I think I need to get my head around a few things (but it's monring!) but thanks for answering anyway. :)
 
Blimy, what a question.

I'll start by saying that if you want to really understand the Buddhist perspective on things, you have to learnt the fundamentals which are pretty much unique to eastern thought. Without these, it would take very long posts and much time trying to translate important concepts which are usually glanced over, such as the translation from 'dukha' to 'suffering'.

Is it not a Buddhist precept that our lives are meaningless illusion, and that death is nothing more than a rebirth into yet another karmic cycle?
Ahhh, the meaning of life! It's what you make of it. Essentially, you're right. But rather than a negative, think of it as an opportunity to decide what meaning you want to attach to life. My own is to be happy and without suffering.

Please excuse my ignorance, but I was almost under the impression that Buddhists perceived individual life of little meaning - that monks dedicate themselves to Buddha not because they care for the wider community, but simply because they are so abjectively against living as a normal everyday human being that they trap themselves behind vows intent solely on escaping a prison of karmic cycles.
For many, this may be so and they will not progress far, but for those with Wisdom, they know that benefiting others is vital in ensuring their own happiness and that dedicating themselves to the Buddha and his Dharma is the best way to help others. I assume you're talking about monastic life when you say 'trap themselves behind vows.' Monasteries have proven to be an excellent place to learn Buddha Dharma. Just as you would lock yourself in your room to do homework, they place vows on themselves to ensure that they practice and don't just slack off in carefree monastic life.
Remember that there is no such thing as free-will. This is an illusion. People who wish to progress have to provide themselves with the right environment in which to grow. It's the old analogy of the seed. With the right conditions, you don't need to tell it to grow, it just does.

In other words, my impression was that Buddhism promotes the idea that all life is suffering, and those who live with continue to suffer until they get off their bottoms and do a runner from life.
Another analogy. If you don't educate yourself and work hard materially, you won't survive. If you don't educate yourself and work hard spiritually, you won't be happy. But spirituality is very subtle. People don't know when they're doing it. I did a course in computers and I got to meet a lot of pretty dry people. I took some of them up the mountain and they blossomed. It was a spiritual experience, however subtle, but it had such a great effect on them. People have no problem accepting that they have to work to survive. Why is it so much harder to accept that you have to work to be happy?
 
Thank-you for your compassion. It seems the contents of this forum is very rich, the discussion of all parties are with wisdom.
 
Perhaps not so much wise, as much as sometimes lucky with their wording. ;)
 
Namaste multidimension,


welcome to CR.

i agree with Brian... sometimes we put some words together well :) actually.. that's usually those other folks... my posts are usually incoherent ramblings, hopefully, they stay on point... but usually they drift about.. :)
 
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