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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:03 pm 
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I hope this hasn't already been discussed too many times here, but I've been a bit confused by something. I hope I'm not breaking any rules by writing long speculative posts!

I really want to understand these things, so please bear with me.

I'm specifically wondering about the Three Dharma Seals or Three Marks of Existence. I've noticed as a novice Buddhist what seems to be a disconnect here. I hear it said that suffering is a Mark of Existence along with impermanence and non-self. To me, it's like putting an orange with two apples. Please help me understand if I'm off base here. All-pervading impermanence and non-self are a bit like those Zen koans that appear nonsensical on the surface because their goal is to make you get over yourself... the whole human tendency of making everything fit nicely into little compartments. "I hope this moment lasts, he's just a bad person, I'm proud of my looks" that sort of thinking. They're Marks of Existence in that they're road signs pointing toward a more direct experience of reality.

It seems weird to me to say that suffering, which I thought was the result of attachment and wrong views, is somehow one of these road signs as well. Am I totally misunderstanding the point of a Dharma Seal / Mark of Existence?

I've read that nirvana (extinguishing of concepts) is an alternative to suffering in this list. It points to a quality of reality that we misapprehend. Like impermanence goes up to our grasping and says "nope!" then non-self goes up to our cherished egos and pulls the carpet out, nirvana too goes up to our tidy world of ideas, then snatches our kaleidoscope away so we can see clearly.

I feel like the idea that everything is suffering is like going up to someone enjoying a sunset and saying, "Well, this sucks because it'll end and the sun will blow up eventually. Also, you'll die." I may be misreading the attitude, but in some books it can sure seem this way! Whether I suffer or not isn't contingent on some quality of the sunset or life, but the presence of aversion, greed, and ignorance, right?

Suffering is undoubtedly a crucial part of the human condition, but it feels weird to one day meditate on how impermanence touches every part of my life and the universe, then to try to do the same with the suffering.

So my questions about this: What is the purpose of a Dharma Seal? Why is suffering listed with impermanence/non-self? Is there a belief out there beyond Thich Nhat Hanh's books that nirvana is a possible alternative in this worldview?

I would also like anybody's thoughts on meditating on suffering in general.

Thank you everyone for being so forbearing with my questions! I hope they're clearer than last time. I accept in advance any silly newbie ignorance this post shows :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:26 am 
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I'm also very new to Buddhism, so please someone correct me if I'm mistaken.
The way I understand it, is that suffering is caused by attachment and self. As well as other things like pain. Life is suffering, but there are also happy and joyous moments too. But they are impermanent. We may be poor and strive for things or rich and worry "are they going to take something from me?" as well as being in the middle trying to "keep up with the Jonses'."These are types of suffering. Loose of a loved one, close friend or long time pet is suffering. Sickness or disease also is suffering. And all of these are impermanent.

Your example of the sunset is impermanence, as the sunset will end and then it's gone.The sun may blow up but that's most likely not going to happen while we're alive, so why worry. Death.....well that's going top happen no matter what. No one gets out alive lol.

Non-self I'm assuming is emptiness. My understanding on emptiness is we are a living being, and we are connected to all other living things. We are all One. There is no "me" or "you" but there is an us, you, me, my dog, that tree.....so on and so forth.

As to Nirvava, my understanding there is that is the state we reach when we become Enlightened and understand the Truth about our existence/non-existence.


Kindest wishes, Dave

_________________
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:54 am 
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The Three marks of existence, within Buddhism, are three characteristics (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa) shared by all sentient beings, namely: impermanence (anicca); suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkha); non-self (anattā).

When the first time we study Buddhism, and also starting from the mindset of ordinary people, where everything is real or permanent, it is very important and useful to realize that everything is suffering. Because by doing this, it gives us a weapon to wake us up.

For example eating ice cream. We think it is pleasure. But the more we eat the ice cream, the more it turns to suffering. So, the teaching of suffering is good in the sense to prepare us not to be attached to our normal stuff.

So good deeds are adviced for us to get used to with good deeds.

There is a very common misunderstanding in Buddhism as if Buddhism try to make us doing good things. This is really wrong.

For beginner, it is true that doing good thing is suggested, however that is not the ultimate aim. The ultimate aim is to make you go beyond good karma.

Doing bad karma throw you to bad realms.
Doing good karma also only throw you to good realm. Useless, isn't it? Because you are still in samsara.

In order to go beyond samsara, we need to go beyond good and bad karma.

In order to go beyond that we must realize this impermanent (dependent origination), which can lead you to realize Anatta (no self). Only if we can realize this anatta, we can go beyond good and bad action.

If you see for example standing under the sun. We think it is suffering. But that is not true. Even thought we stay under te sun for 10 hours, even we feel pain, this dualistic mind with label that sensation as pain, which will later categorize it as suffering.

Why that sensation has a label pain????

If we look into it again and again, we can see this sensation is just a phenomena. You cannot find any label that tell you this is suffering or this is pleasure. Only your mind tell you this is suffering, this is joyful. But, that is your mind, not reality. Reality doesn't tell you that. You won't be able to find any identity that tell you this is suffering or joyful, or any identity such as half suffering or half joyful. It is just no identity.

If you are Theravada practitioner, the strategy of Theravada is using suffering as the path. By using suffering, at the end you will also go beyond that suffering.

If you are vajrayanna practitioner, the strategy of Vajrayana is using joyful as the path. At the end, that joyful path will also bring you go beyond the joyful.

Normally, it is easier for someone realizing everything as a suffering and then go beyond suffering. Because no one like suffering. So we will try as hard as possible to go beyond that.

It is quite rare for people to be able to use joyful path right from the start to go beyond joyful path, because the joyful path can bind us more. So, Vajrayana path is not the first teaching we will receive in Buddhism. We must have a solid foundation, so the path doesn't bind us in the joyful, instead bring us beyond that.

There is 1 mahasiddha in 84 great mahasiddha. He really like to play music, something like string instrument. One teacher can see that he is actually a person with little dust in his eyes. But this guy said, I want to reach enlihtenment, but I don't want to be separated from my music. How to do it? So this teacher taught a technique of using his instrument as the path to go beyond his desire for his music. His teacher said you listen to your music nakedly, learn not to do nothing. Don't label it as good or bad. Just play and listen. So basically his teacher is using sound to move this student to go to Anatta (no self). At the end, this technique really make him become one of the great mahasiddha.

So, depending on people.

One of the teacher said Buddhist path is like a bar soap. The more you use the soap, the soap will start to disappear until it is completely gone. Similarly, when you move a long the Buddhist path, your path will getting thinner and thinner due to your improvement in your Anatta wisdom until someday your soap really gone in the sense that you really go beyond the path that you initially used.

Gate gate paragate parasamgate boddhisvaha - go go go go beyond, beyond, and beyond until this buddhahood fully manifest without any stain of dualistic.

Go beyond suffering. Go also beyond joyful.
Go beyond samsara. Go also beyond nirvana.
Go to buddhahood. Go also beyond buddhahood.

_________________
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:05 am 
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It seems to me that suffering is essential to understand the Buddha's teaching. So it makes sense to heighten your awareness of the states of mind we associate with it, which the recollection of Suffering does. Christianity also does this - Confession helps one to name states of personal suffering. I believe that the previous lives mentioned by the Buddha had nothing to do with prior lifetimes so much as the totality of mental states and fermentations et al. that can produce the person of the Buddha at any given moment, and he became an enlightened being when he saw these unfold before him. States of suffering are a part of that totality.

Also, it has been my experience that meditation, especially post-initiation, enhances "suffering". I put in the quotes because, even though mental formations can diversify in meditation, and some will naturally be unpleasant, this diversity helps you to put them into context. You see them for what they are, rather than being swept into further suffering. So suffering diminishes, even though you still experience suffering.

If you read biographies of the lives of some Christian Saints, you see that suffering is writ large in their lives, and this, it seems to me, is consistent with the Passion of the Christ, which uses suffering to carry Christ through to Resurrection. Why is this any different than Mara assailing the Buddha?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:34 am 
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Quote:
When the first time we study Buddhism, and also starting from the mindset of ordinary people, where everything is real or permanent, it is very important and useful to realize that everything is suffering. Because by doing this, it gives us a weapon to wake us up.

This is just what I needed to hear. I wasn't sure what mindset to tackle suffering from, but everyone's posts have helped immensely. Definitely a feast for thought here.

Quote:
Also, it has been my experience that meditation, especially post-initiation, enhances "suffering".

I've heard meditation compared to trying to pull a stick out of the bottom of a pond, making the water all muddy. It does seem like when you first try to tackle the mind, it gets a million times worse and more frustrating. But really, we're all just crazy and never realized it before :D

How fortunate that I found this forum! I can see why a teacher is paramount.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:28 am 
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:smile:
duckfiasco:
I hope that this won't confuse you but it is something for you consider about "suffering".

Suffering has a purpose in the world.
Although "suffering" causes pain and is often considered a bad thing....without suffering and pain why would human beings living in the world ever want to seek something better....and start on the Buddhist path?
If everyone was content with their lives...if everything seemed fine to them...then they would have no desire to leave there daily lives and seek something better?
It is only because of their suffering and the resulting pain that they want to change. Otherwise they would remain blissfully ignorant in their childish illusionary and delusionary world.
Now that gives a new meaning to the experience of suffering, doesn't it?
Somewhat like a young child that has to be gently disciplined by his parents...who know that that child can't simply remain a child forever...but needs to become an adult.
And once you understand that as the purpose of suffering in the world...then instead of thinking of it as something painful and to be avoided...you can see that suffering is really a blessing....like that gentle chastising by an adult to a child.
THen when you understand that point....can you now see that suffering is like a blessing from Buddha?

Think about it.
:smile:

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Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:36 am 
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[quote="duckfiasco"] Whether I suffer or not isn't contingent on some quality of the sunset or life, but the presence of aversion, greed, and ignorance, right?

[quote]

Yes, while ignorance persists all experience has the potential for suffering because of craving and aversion ( dukkha = 1st seal ).
In this context ignorance can be described in terms of not seeing clearly the other 2 seals ( anicca and anatta ).

Spiny


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:44 am 
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Thank you all for correcting my misunderstanding.


Kindest wishes, Dave

_________________
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~


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