Is spiritual progress worth it?

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby KeithBC » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:33 pm

logank9 wrote:I just want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is. Because it just doesn't make sense to me why everyone wouldn't follow it. If it is the end all be all to highest happiness why isn't everyone spiritually improving themselves all the time?

There is only one way to find out: that is to try it and succeed. If you do, then it was worth the effort. If you try but don't succeed, it was not worth the effort. If you don't try, you'll never know. That is why not everyone makes an effort.

There is a reason why religions are referred to as "faiths". You have to have faith that the effort will be worthwhile in order to make the effort. Not everyone has it.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Jikan » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:52 pm

I don't know if I've made any spiritual progress at all.

I can say: as a direct result of my attempts at Buddhist practice, I've become a lot easier for others to deal with, I tend to create fewer problems, and I'm having a lot more fun than I used to. Really, I have a great time most days just doing ordinary routine things. YMMV.

So yeah, I'm quite happy to continue on this path.
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:59 pm

Jikan wrote:I don't know if I've made any spiritual progress at all.

I can say: as a direct result of my attempts at Buddhist practice, I've become a lot easier for others to deal with, I tend to create fewer problems, and I'm having a lot more fun than I used to. Really, I have a great time most days just doing ordinary routine things. YMMV.

So yeah, I'm quite happy to continue on this path.


:good:
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:14 pm

Are infinite rebirths full of suffering (samsara) with brief respites here and there worth it? Coz that's the other option.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby kirtu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:17 pm

logank9 wrote:I always get caught up on whether spiritual progression is worth it....Thoughts anyone? I'm lost today


The alternative is wandering further and further in spiritual darkness. That's not acceptable to me.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:38 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Jikan wrote:I don't know if I've made any spiritual progress at all.

I can say: as a direct result of my attempts at Buddhist practice, I've become a lot easier for others to deal with, I tend to create fewer problems, and I'm having a lot more fun than I used to. Really, I have a great time most days just doing ordinary routine things. YMMV.

So yeah, I'm quite happy to continue on this path.


:good:

+ 1

That's the carrot.
I tend not to dwell on the stick - the "infinite rebirths full of suffering (samsara) with brief respites here and there" etc - because all I really know is the here-and-now.

:namaste:
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Alfredo » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:41 am

Pascal, call your office!

What would you estimate to be the likelihood (that is, the prior probability) of Buddhism being true? Let this be (b).

If Buddhism is true, then you get a chance to obtain infinite jollies (metric units of happiness, j). What is that chance? Now you have to estimate the odds of Mahayana vs. Theravada. (Let's say 50-50.) If Mahayana, then all sentient beings eventually get saved, so 100 % chance of infinite jollies. If Theravada, infinitesimal chance and infinite jollies, so 1. (Let's also assume that it makes no difference to your fate which one you choose.)

If Buddhism is not true, then perhaps some other religion is true. What are the odds? Let this be (a). If so, then what are the odds that Buddhists may be saved, and thereby obtain infinite jollies? Let's say 20 %.

If no religion is true, then as an atheist, you get...let's say 1000 jollies over the course of a life spent partying. If no religion is true, but you become a devout Buddhist, you miss out on some of those jollies. Let's say you get 500 jollies.

So: [(b) x (.5) x infinity] + [(b) x (.5) x (1) - 1000 vs. [(a) x (.2) x infinity] + [(1-<a+b>) x (.8) x (negative infinity)] + 500

If Buddhism is 10 percent likely, and there is a 40 percent chance of some other religion being true, then

(.1 x .5 x infinity) + (.1 x .5 x 1) -1000 vs. (.4 x .2 x infinity) + (.5 x .8 x <negative infinity>) + 500

All clear? Edit: no, it is not. This is a mess. Now you've got *me* confused.
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Jikan » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:00 am

Alfredo wrote:All clear? Edit: no, it is not. This is a mess. Now you've got *me* confused.


:rolling:
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Jikan » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:04 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: + 1

That's the carrot.
I tend not to dwell on the stick - the "infinite rebirths full of suffering (samsara) with brief respites here and there" etc - because all I really know is the here-and-now.

:namaste:
Kim


I've had more than enough of the "stick" to go back to my old ways, even without considering lifetimes apart from this one. It seems to me that this is the case for many of us--we come to Buddhism because we're hurting, and tired of hurting ourselves and others.
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Alfredo » Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:23 am

But wait! If the Mahayana is true, then all sentient beings (including you and me) will eventually get saved anyway, regardless of what religion (or lack thereof) we pick. So you could enjoy your 1000 metric jollies now (i.e. the fruits of a life of libertine materialism), AND get a chance (if Mahayana is true) of infinite jollies in the future. Taking other religions into account, assuming equal prior probabilities, you should probably choose the most intolerant ones (no sense in joining the Unitarians if you would have gotten into heaven anyway if they turn out to be right), and the ones with the best heaven and the worst hell. The catch, of course, is that there is no non-arbitrary way to assign prior probabilities.
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:38 am

Alfredo wrote:But wait! If the Mahayana is true, then all sentient beings (including you and me) will eventually get saved anyway, regardless of what religion (or lack thereof) we pick. So you could enjoy your 1000 metric jollies now (i.e. the fruits of a life of libertine materialism), AND get a chance (if Mahayana is true) of infinite jollies in the future. Taking other religions into account, assuming equal prior probabilities, you should probably choose the most intolerant ones (no sense in joining the Unitarians if you would have gotten into heaven anyway if they turn out to be right), and the ones with the best heaven and the worst hell. The catch, of course, is that there is no non-arbitrary way to assign prior probabilities.

... or benefits.
Is the Islamic heaven more heavenly than the Christian heaven?
:juggling:
How do they both compare with nibbana?
:juggling:
Is rebirth as an animal worse than a time in Purgatory?
:juggling:

:shrug:
If we can't know what will happen later, our best strategy is to decide on the basis of the here-and-now - as I said a little while ago.

:namaste:
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:14 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: + 1

That's the carrot.
I tend not to dwell on the stick - the "infinite rebirths full of suffering (samsara) with brief respites here and there" etc - because all I really know is the here-and-now.

:namaste:
Kim
Here-and-now? Liberian cannibal warlords. Mexican drug cartels. Refugees drowning in their attempt to enter Europe. Industrial slaughterhouses. HIV prevalence in Swaziland (21% of all adults). Sisa addiction in Brasil. Etc... The infinite rebirths in realms of suffering IS here and now. We just happen to have achieved a precious human rebirth. Extraordinarily precious. If we do not take advantage of it here-and-now, well, you only have to look at the other 95% of the worlds population to see what is in store.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:15 am

Alfredo wrote:But wait! If the Mahayana is true, then all sentient beings (including you and me) will eventually get saved anyway, regardless of what religion (or lack thereof) we pick. So you could enjoy your 1000 metric jollies now (i.e. the fruits of a life of libertine materialism), AND get a chance (if Mahayana is true) of infinite jollies in the future.
Sure, if you want to wait around for an infinite period of time.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby jeeprs » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:43 am

If 'progress' is defined as 'attaining something' or 'getting somewhere' I would suggest you drop it. If that is really what's driving you, then the answer is 'no, definitely not'. The important point is to sit without any idea of personal gain. If you can't do that, do something else.
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby porpoise » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:47 am

logank9 wrote: Is it really worth it or any more worth it than living as an ordinary person?


Nobody is saying you have to do spiritual practice. If you're not sure about it, then why not have a complete break and see how it feels?
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Re: Is spiritual progress worth it?

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:50 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:Here-and-now? Liberian cannibal warlords. Mexican drug cartels. Refugees drowning in their attempt to enter Europe. Industrial slaughterhouses. HIV prevalence in Swaziland (21% of all adults). Sisa addiction in Brasil. Etc... The infinite rebirths in realms of suffering IS here and now. We just happen to have achieved a precious human rebirth. Extraordinarily precious. If we do not take advantage of it here-and-now, well, you only have to look at the other 95% of the worlds population to see what is in store.

It pays to heed this reminder.

Thanks Greg.
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