Is Buddhism Anti-Life? - Dhamma Wheel

Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
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Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby qoheleth » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:32 pm

Sorry to start with a provocative title, but I have wrestled with this for a long time. In my "search" for the best way to live, no "path" makes as much immediate and practical sense to me as that of Buddhism, and particularly Theravada. I have studied it alongside many other traditions, Eastern and Western, and while I have tried to make meditation a part of my life for the last ten years, my practice has been inconsistent and my orientation rather confused. My apprehension regarding Theravada Buddhism is that it is, in a sense, a saying "no" to life. Am I incorrect in seeing it this way? I mean, isn't the ultimate object in Buddhism to no longer "become"? To cease being reborn? Is it finally an acceptance that all is really futile in the end (all except for the 8FP, that is), a kind of nihilism? Can anyone perhaps suggest a more positive approach to the path?

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if you find this line of questioning offensive. Or redundant.

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Digity » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:28 pm

The problems with life are observable by you. Even if Buddhism didn't exists there would still be death, disease and all the other kinds of suffering in this world. That's just a fact. Suffering is a fact. The Buddha didn't create suffering. It's just there. Buddhism isn't's just saying there's suffering in this world and there's a path out from this suffering. Would you deny the first noble truth about dukkha? To me Buddhism is just realistic. It doesn't sugar coat reality. It says it the way it is. If you want to label it anti-life that's fine, but all it's doing it pointing out what's really going on.

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby perkele » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:59 pm

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:00 pm

Hello, qoheleth,
You are incorrect, but not totally incorrect. The goal is not escaping from life but ending suffering, as Digity said.
But the Theravada has often been accused of negativity - don't do this, don't do that, don't enjoy the other. The 'don't enjoy, don't participate' message can sometimes come through louder than the 'cultivate insight, compassion and equanimity' message. It's a fault with how the teachings are presented.


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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:22 pm

Hello quoheleth,

Most religions accept that what they are seeking is better than what is now (therefore most religions accept that things are unsatisfactory now and can be improved upon).

With metta

With Metta

& Upekkha

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby nobody12345 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:21 pm

Life and death are the opposite side of the same coin.
True Buddhism is anti-Samsara.

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby amrad » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:04 am

It could be a wester interpretation of suffering, dhuka or unsatisfactoriness. Perhaps westerners take it all a bit too serious. I dont know, but when I visited Thailand the people and especially the monks seemed deeply happy. Its hard to trans locate a thing as deeply rooted as religion.

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:05 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:47 am

In addition to what has been said already, consider the things that Buddhism encourages us to develop: mindfulness, concentration, joy, patience, kindness, compassion, equanimity, wisdom, etc. These are things that enrich the quality of a person's life. The only thing we're learning to drop is delusion and fruitless clinging. Good riddance!

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:57 am

I recently found this interesting bit by Luong Pu Dulaya 'Dun' Atulo.

"Hasitupabada: The citta smiling without any intention to smile. This means that even when one does not intend to smile, the citta smiles on its own."

"The third motiveless thing of the citta, the self-smiling citta that has no intention to smile, arises only in the citta of the Noble Ones. It doesn't occur in the worldly people because this only occurs at the level of a citta beyond the illusions of the Sankhara. This citta is no longer concerned with the world of illusion because it understands the causes and conditions of the thought constructions. It is, of itself, free."

Self-smiling and free. Huh. That's not any kind of nihilism that I know of. :smile: ... _Atulo.htm
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby qoheleth » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:51 pm

Thanks for all of the insightful and encouraging responses. Much appreciated!

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:55 pm

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Goedert » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:40 pm

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby unspoken » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:44 am

Life is suffering
We practice to end suffering
Ending life=Ending suffering---thats what you think

Life is (got) suffering
We practice to end suffering
Ending suffering (in life) but not ending life itself--- that's what we think and what we do


Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby AnonOfIbid » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:35 am


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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby pinatapai » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:42 pm

Buddhism says that it is possible to get free from suffering. And it also says that it is possible in this very life.

That's even optimism to me...

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Kusala » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:16 am


"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Pondera » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:21 pm

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Re: Is Buddhism Anti-Life?

Postby Nori » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:07 pm

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