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 Post subject: Suffering
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:45 pm 
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Hello Everyone,

I'm new (obviously) and have an interest in Buddhism. I believe that the philosophy of Buddhism makes some very valid points regarding life and human experience. My question has to do with what some (all?) Buddhists attribute as the cause of suffering. I was reading a few thoughts related to this and found the following,

Quote:
The cause of human suffering, as explained in Buddhist terms, is greed, anger and ignorance. These negative traits and fundamental evils are called the Three Poisons, because they are dangerous toxins in our lives. Not only are they the source of our unquenchable thirst for possessions, and the root cause of all of our harmful illusions, but they are painful pollutants, which bring sickness, both physical and mental.



I understand that the Buddhist belief is that there are no external sources of evil and being raised a Christian (i'm not anymore) wonder if this admonition is accurate in that it is describing something external to man which is realized internal to him?
How can there be a view that no external cause is responsible for evil if in fact these three poisons are thought to be the cause of all suffering? If these three poisons are not external but are intrinsic to the person then how did they come to be? Do the three poisons not have a cause?

Thank You


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:00 am 
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Looking for first causes is a perspective of Western religions. In Buddhism, we recognize that it is a futile search that takes you in circles.

So, instead of looking for the causes of the causes, look at the proximate cause: Your (or my) suffering is caused by your (or my) anger, ignorance and greed. Looking beyond that is an intellectual head-game that the mind dreams up to distract you from the solution. The solution is to deal with those three poisons.

These are not external entities that have infected us. They are things that we DO. By our actions (thoughts are actions too), we behave angrily; we behave ignorantly; we behave greedily. We do them because we choose to, because we are not aware of their effects. Buddhism teaches us the relationship of cause and effect, so that we can un-learn these behaviours and stop doing them.

Let someone else figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Our task is more real.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:05 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
...
How can there be a view that no external cause is responsible for evil if in fact these three poisons are thought to be the cause of all suffering? If these three poisons are not external but are intrinsic to the person then how did they come to be? Do the three poisons not have a cause?

Thank You

This is a question of "What is real?" It is not shortly answerable, because one has to contemplate about this topic with the help of a qualified teacher. Too short one can say: Everything exists somehow, but it is an illusion. We can not realize the real sort of existence without analysing deeply, for a long period of time.

The fault is: the perception is not infallibly and comprehensive. We look through glasses and we are provoundly convinced that this world is "brown" or "redish" like the colour of these unknown glasses.
So maybe there are external causes but the main thing is our interpretation. It should be with compassion.
Normally these things are not understood well in a discussion.
:reading:

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*** om vajra krodha hayagrīva hulu hulu hūm phat**


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:16 pm 
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Thank you for the thoughtful responses,



"Keith wrote:
Looking for first causes is a perspective of Western religions. In Buddhism, we recognize that it is a futile search that takes you in circles.


Indeed it is. I mentioned that I was raised a Christian and am no longer a card-carrying Christian but the foundational beliefs are still a part of my programming. I suppose I see a great deal of similarity between Buddha and western religions and I suppose one of my unspoken desires is to find some sort of common ground between them that will validate their veracity as worthy modes of spiritual endeavor. Questions like, are they the same or are they trying to accomplish the same goals, plague me often and so this is my journey at present.

Keith wrote:
So, instead of looking for the causes of the causes, look at the proximate cause: Your (or my) suffering is caused by your (or my) anger, ignorance and greed. Looking beyond that is an intellectual head-game that the mind dreams up to distract you from the solution. The solution is to deal with those three poisons.


I understand the efficacy of this. By eschewing the desire to seek understanding for understanding sake let's first tackle the issues which are of greater importance and affect is right now. I think this is what you mean? Well, that is fine and great for you since you have taken upon yourself the mantle of faith that Buddha is telling the truth, however If I were to accept his truth as well then It becomes necessary for me to try and make sure his statements are authentic, his reasoning is authentic. Hence the claim that suffering can be undone so to speak. His methodology as you have pointed out is to simply imagine or unimagine any cause of suffering - depending on whether one subscribes to dualism or not. For me, it is not so easy because a statement was made that says that evil is not external. Yet there is an inability or unwillingness to describe what the source or cause of suffering is or was? How can I simply ignore that there is no cause of suffering other than that which my own thoughts; attachments, desires bring me? How can i realize that these things exist within myself and not wonder from whence they originated? Am I the source of three evils as well as other beings? Am I the cause of three evils as other beings? If this is true and I do believe it is true with qualifications how am i in error or not in accord with Buddhism to not want to know the beginning of this? (It is here that my mind goes to western religious thought for answers that Buddhism can't give me)

Ayu wrote:
This is a question of "What is real?" It is not shortly answerable, because one has to contemplate about this topic with the help of a qualified teacher. Too short one can say: Everything exists somehow, but it is an illusion. We can not realize the real sort of existence without analysing deeply, for a long period of time.


Thank you for your thoughts. I am here to learn and am not under any time constraints. If you and others are willing to explore this with me and help me past some of my difficulties then I would be grateful. If not then i understand that to.


Thank you :)


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Quote:
How can I simply ignore that there is no cause of suffering other than that which my own thoughts; attachments, desires bring me?
This is not something to ignore. This is something that we meditate upon frequently: there is no cause of my suffering other than the attachments that I create.

The search for beginnings is futile if there are none.

Suppose you were successful in determining an initial cause for your suffering, say something that happened 10 million years ago, what would that knowledge gain you? The cause has happened; the effect - your suffering - is therefore inevitable. That knowledge has just bought you the additional suffering of knowing that you're hooped. On the other hand, if you treat your suffering as being something that is caused within yourself, you carry the cause within you, which means that you have the potential to do something about it.

Buddhism is as much about cause and effect as it is about suffering. When a cause occurs, its effect is inevitable. Many religions rely on magic: a cause occurs, but you can somehow evade the effect. Buddhism is not that way. If the cause happens, its effect is inescapable. Therefore, to eliminate the effect, you must prevent the cause.

If suffering were something that was caused by an ancient event, such as, in Christianity, Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, then our suffering is inescapable. Christianity solves the problem with magic: believe in Jesus and you can escape the consequences. Buddhism say that wasn't the cause in the first place. Your actions were the cause. The effects caused by your past actions may be inescapable, but you can choose your actions now to avoid similar effects in the future.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:31 am 
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Hi Keith,

KeithBC wrote:
The search for beginnings is futile if there are none.


All things must have a beginning, at least on this plane of existence.

KeithBC wrote:
Suppose you were successful in determining an initial cause for your suffering, say something that happened 10 million years ago, what would that knowledge gain you?


I suppose it would allow me to definitively identify "that things" mode of influence. If "that thing" has been identified and I can now begin to recognize it's every nuance, its every means of influence; I can come to understand its purpose. I suppose it may be similar to taking a look in the mirror for the first time and actually seeing what is there? Or maybe a blind man who has miraculously had his vision restored and he can finally see reality for what it is rather than plodding around continually in the dark.

KeithBC wrote:
The cause has happened; the effect - your suffering - is therefore inevitable.


Okay, but in the Buddhist view, there is a disconnect is there not? Because one does not know or consider a cause therefore one must, it would seem, blindly accept what is believed to be effects - I think I'm understanding you alright. To recap then, it is a needless concern to contemplate the origins or cause of suffering because knowledge of the cause does not affect the results. This does seem to make sense. Now if I could only forget that there is a cause.


KeithBC wrote:
That knowledge has just bought you the additional suffering of knowing that you're hooped. On the other hand, if you treat your suffering as being something that is caused within yourself, you carry the cause within you, which means that you have the potential to do something about it.


Is this the same as eliminating the effects of the cause? Yet if those effects are still found outside myself, in others, then i've really only eliminated a small part of the problem :) I'm sorry I over-analyze things. I get what you mean.

KeithBC wrote:
Buddhism is as much about cause and effect as it is about suffering. When a cause occurs, its effect is inevitable. Many religions rely on magic: a cause occurs, but you can somehow evade the effect. Buddhism is not that way. If the cause happens, its effect is inescapable. Therefore, to eliminate the effect, you must prevent the cause.


If I only prevent the cause which eliminates the effects in myself does not the cause still exist outside myself? I suppose then this leads to teaching others right?

KeithBC wrote:
If suffering were something that was caused by an ancient event, such as, in Christianity, Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, then our suffering is inescapable. Christianity solves the problem with magic: believe in Jesus and you can escape the consequences. Buddhism say that wasn't the cause in the first place. Your actions were the cause. The effects caused by your past actions may be inescapable, but you can choose your actions now to avoid similar effects in the future.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


Yes, there does seem to be an awful lot of magical thinking in Christianity, that was one of the turn offs for me yet it would seem i'm still corrupted, i ate the dang fruit. :)
Well thank you Keith for your helpful words. I have what i need to think on for a while. I will probably visit other threads and see what it is all about.


Thank you again.


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:59 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
Hi Keith,

KeithBC wrote:
The search for beginnings is futile if there are none.


All things must have a beginning, at least on this plane of existence.

Don't worry so much about things like this. You may run into the metaphor of a cup that is too full to receive anything. We need to relax into the possibility that things can be other than how we think they are. We only work with where we are right now anyway, which may be "doesn't make sense". I certainly struggle with skepticism. For me, it's often a defense mechanism to preserve my opinions under the guise of "I don't have a view, it's just how it is". It's one of the things we work with in Buddhism, attachment to views :)

Quote:
KeithBC wrote:
Suppose you were successful in determining an initial cause for your suffering, say something that happened 10 million years ago, what would that knowledge gain you?


I suppose it would allow me to definitively identify "that things" mode of influence. If "that thing" has been identified and I can now begin to recognize it's every nuance, its every means of influence; I can come to understand its purpose. I suppose it may be similar to taking a look in the mirror for the first time and actually seeing what is there? Or maybe a blind man who has miraculously had his vision restored and he can finally see reality for what it is rather than plodding around continually in the dark.

You'll never get it all figured out, or even half of it. If you wait until you conceptually understand things, you may miss this opportunity to suffer less and thereby help others to suffer less. That's our primary concern, not to swap one set of views for another.

Good luck with your journey :)

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:13 am 
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My understanding is this essentially:

The three poisons don't just "affect" reality or act as some kind of agency "inside" of beings that causes suffering...reality, i.e. samsara is actually rooted in these things, and we literally create our whole reality based largely on ignorance. There is no "creation" in Buddhism as the real nature of things is beyond creation and cessation, it only seems otherwise to us because we live in samsara.

Quote:

All things must have a beginning, at least on this plane of existence.


Read up on dependent origination, it's one of the things at the very heart of Buddhism, nothing actually has a beginning or an end.

If you are into reading Sutra The Lankavatara Sutra directly addresses some of the things you are asking here regarding (a version of) the Buddhist worldview.

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:41 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
Hello Everyone,

I'm new (obviously) and have an interest in Buddhism. I believe that the philosophy of Buddhism makes some very valid points regarding life and human experience. My question has to do with what some (all?) Buddhists attribute as the cause of suffering. I was reading a few thoughts related to this and found the following,

Quote:
The cause of human suffering, as explained in Buddhist terms, is greed, anger and ignorance. These negative traits and fundamental evils are called the Three Poisons, because they are dangerous toxins in our lives. Not only are they the source of our unquenchable thirst for possessions, and the root cause of all of our harmful illusions, but they are painful pollutants, which bring sickness, both physical and mental.



I understand that the Buddhist belief is that there are no external sources of evil and being raised a Christian (i'm not anymore) wonder if this admonition is accurate in that it is describing something external to man which is realized internal to him?
How can there be a view that no external cause is responsible for evil if in fact these three poisons are thought to be the cause of all suffering? If these three poisons are not external but are intrinsic to the person then how did they come to be? Do the three poisons not have a cause?

Thank You


Two things here:

1) The mind to my understanding is self-evident. Then you cannot ask what/who creates the mind. But with God, you can ask who/what created God? His existence is not self-evident.

2)The cause of suffering is a result of attachment, view, or concept to self when nothing can exist independently by itself. A seed requires water, sunlight, temperature, and soil for it to germinate. One's existence is always in relationship to all else. Thus, the view of self or separate self is problematic and what leads to suffering.

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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:27 pm 
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Thank you everyone for your helpful and edifying insight. Since my last thoughts on this particular subject I have come to accept certain unfathomable realities which tend towards what I see as the agnosticism or atheism of Buddhism.

A quote in support of the view of the inefficacy of aspiration in such things,

“Measure not with words
Th’ immeasurable, nor sink the string of thought
Into the fathomless:—who asks doth err,
Who answers errs,—say naught!”


- Sir Edwin Arnold


Quote:
This consistent attitude of Buddhism is well set forth in the sixty-third Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya,4 where a Monk of the name of Māluṅkyāputta propounds to the Buddha a number of these questions ‘which tend not to edification.’ And the Buddha answers him that it is as though a man, wounded in battle by a poisoned arrow, were to refuse to have that arrow drawn out ere the poison entered his veins unless he were told first the caste, etc., of the man by whom that arrow had been shot. “That man would die, Māluṅkyāputta, before ever he could learn this.” And in the same case, in the Buddhist view of life, is a man here on earth who seeks for respite from the anguish caused him by the dart of ignorance. To know whence came that dart, or why, or how,—these things are futile ; and the one thing needful, the one thing useful, is to learn how may the shaft be drawn from out our flesh, before ever its poison overcomes us altogether. Whether a man believe the world created or no, whether he believes the Saint exists after death or no—these all are futile questionings, for whatever be the case there still exist that sorrow, that lamentation, that misery, and that despair, for the extinction of which it is the object of the Great Physician to prescribe. All arguments about a ‘First Cause’ are to be regarded by the aspirant after the Life that’s Right as one of the chief obstacles in his path of spiritual progress, they are Micchādiṭṭhi, wrong Viewy-ness, to borrow Mrs. Rhys Davids’ descriptive word ;—mere vain speculations to which there can be no real answer, concerning which there will always be as many false conclusions as there are minds wasted in their contemplation. -Allen Bennett


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:06 pm 
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When Dharma is taken merely as things to know, for sure suffering keeps rolling.
Isn't it said that when the aspect Compassion/Devotion or LOVE is lacking, there is no Wisdom arising from itself? Then I suppose even I study for the rest of my life the most profound amazing wow philosophies ever seen and who they wrote and how so and so, nature can remain clouded by such.

Knowing as method to be free, cannot be respected enough. Life is short. Therefore not to contradict the need for knowing/knowledge, as tool I guess, to be liberated out of our clinging constructs.
The most complex spider web is nothing compared by the complexity of the suffering constructing mind.

Bodhichitta - equanimity.

:anjali:

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:26 pm 
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What about LOVE? Perhaps, this will be 'a good' next area of inquiry since it seems all the rage these days. I believe far too much importance is placed on this mental state rather than just understanding it as it is - an emotion and an highly over-rated one at that. I suppose the greatest attractor is the truism, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." As well as the peacefulness that comes about as a result of it but this somehow seems false to my mind. I much rather think a state of emotionlessness, no love, no hate, no nothing would seem to the best, but what to do I know?

Thank for the thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:37 pm 
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In regard to suffering the Buddha rejected annihilationism and eternalism. Annihilationism is the belief that suffering is created param katam, by another (the accidental fact). Eternalism is the belief that suffering is created sayam katam, by oneself (the inherent fact) (cp SN 12:17).


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:42 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
How can there be a view that no external cause is responsible for evil if in fact these three poisons are thought to be the cause of all suffering?

.
.
.
.

That understanding is only 99.99% correct.
the three poisons have no intrinsic reality of their own.
thus, they cannot be the cause of suffering.
it is our attachment to attraction, revulsion and ignorance which manifests as suffering.

That attachment is not found anywhere externally.
So, you are attracted by something.
That is not the cause of suffering.
being attached to that attraction,
meaning, you grasp onto that experience and solidify it as part of your own being,
that leads to suffering
because the conditions for that attraction are only temporary
and when those conditions no longer arise,
the happiness from that attraction will end.
.
.
.

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:34 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
Hello Everyone,

If these three poisons are not external but are intrinsic to the person then how did they come to be? Do the three poisons not have a cause?



Does it really matter if you already know how to eliminate them?

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:03 am 
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In Buddhism loving kindness and compassion are not emotions, but descriptive of a certain relationship with sentient beings, I don't remember the exact teaching, but compassion relates to empathy you feel towards being suffering in the ocean of existence, whereas loving kindness is the wish that they be happy and free of that suffering. That may be a little off but that's the gist of it.

Anyway, on the ontological bit, there is much more to question of how stuff exists..but basically, in reality nothing is ever created of destroyed, so looking for first causes is absurd in a Buddhist context, that's dependent origination.

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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:30 am 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
In Buddhism loving kindness and compassion are not emotions, but descriptive of a certain relationship with sentient beings, I don't remember the exact teaching, but compassion relates to empathy you feel towards being suffering in the ocean of existence, whereas loving kindness is the wish that they be happy and free of that suffering. That may be a little off but that's the gist of it.



Well that's reassuring. I thought for a moment that there might be something else I'd have to kill on the road to liberation. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:32 am 
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seeker242 wrote:
Does it really matter if you already know how to eliminate them?


No, I suppose it doesn't but you know enquirer minds, they just wanna know. In this particular case, my interest in such things has been supplanted by the appealing concept of, no cause at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:34 am 
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PadmaVonSamba wrote:
[...]



I appreciate that added insight. Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Suffering
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:23 am 
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Cloudrider wrote:
What about LOVE? Perhaps, this will be 'a good' next area of inquiry since it seems all the rage these days. I believe far too much importance is placed on this mental state rather than just understanding it as it is - an emotion and an highly over-rated one at that. I suppose the greatest attractor is the truism, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."



Yes indeed. The sweetness of the delusion, that 'love' need not our importance. :smile:
While without Wisdoms' Love, there remains emotions' suffering.

Johnny mentioned the four boundless ones: compassion, love, joy all in equanimity, which cannot get too much importance. It is clear we cannot merely discuss about, rather it can be as the quality of mindfulness.
I found this: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... 20Mind.htm

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