proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

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.

proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Luke » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:34 pm

I heard someone make this statement:
"Buddhism denies the value and existence of life."

How would you reply to this statement?

I know that this is technically incorrect, but I do feel that Buddhism often presents itself in a way which can seem overly depressing and negative to most people.
Buddhism has had a long history of being incorrectly labeled as "nihilism" by outsiders.

The main reply I can think of is that Buddhism finds value in life as a result of its concept that all sentient beings have buddha nature.
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 1673
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:52 am

I see this kind of thing mostly from Christians. Really, if someone doesn't get the First Noble Truth, or can't comprehend the three seals for example, they can't agree with Buddhism. I like the Three Seals though because they can be examined and tested by anyone, so to a person who says something like that you just say "find something permanent, find a self, tell me what is free of suffering in this life". In general the answer is some form of eternalist doctrine, a reference to a substantial self or outside entity which is obviously refuted by Buddhist doctrine.

If a person of another religion wants to believe these things, I think that's ok, they are welcome to their beliefs, if someone believes in those things though, Buddhism won't ever jive for them.

See the thing is, when they say "finding value in life" they are talking about trying to find something permanent and stable in something that will never have either of those qualities, and they will be looking forever, from my point of view. Now, When the world looks amazing and can be appreciated even though you know there is no permanence, there is no self, and there is suffering in afflictions etc..then I think from a Mahayana PoV you are "appreciating life". Emptiness/interdependence/whatever is a beautiful and profound concept, but it requires you to give up the things you hold dear, and plenty of people just wont be ok with that.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
"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
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2548
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:57 am

"Johnny Dangerous" so to a person who says something like that you just say "find something permanent, find a self, tell me what is free of suffering".


isn't Enlightenment permanently free from Suffering?
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 888
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:59 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
"Johnny Dangerous" so to a person who says something like that you just say "find something permanent, find a self, tell me what is free of suffering".


isn't Enlightenment permanently free from Suffering?

I'm just talking about the three seals ala Pali Canon, if you want to argue those do it in another thread IMO. Not really an appropriate place for quality of enlightenment debates I think.

Anyway, the short answer is NO in terms of "appreciating life", suffering is by nature a part of the "life" that people who make statements like that are talking about, they aren't talking about Nirvana. I also imagine they would just say that you are escaping life by achieving Nirvana, and so, their statement would hold..if I had to hazard a guess.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2548
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby smcj » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:06 am

Luke wrote:I heard someone make this statement:
"Buddhism denies the value and existence of life."

How would you reply to this statement?

I'd say that "Buddhism" (a huge sweeping term) initially denies the ability to find a lasting happiness in samsaric (secular) life, and the ability to find the the essential facticity of life.

That is what gets the spiritual search going.

However ultimately, in the Vajrayana, the end result is to the ability to love life unconditionally, as everything is a facet of pristine awareness--the Truth.
******************************************************************************
Of course there's more to it than that, but that's a quick comeback.
Last edited by smcj on Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:22 am, edited 3 times in total.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2079
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:15 am

Buddhists talk a lot about suffering because we have a real solution.
Other philosophies pretend there is no suffering, that suffering is minor, that you can do nothing but accept that you suffer, etc. because they have no real solution to suffering.

Buddhists deny the value of many things in life because we have something better.
Other philosophies emphasize the value of rearing children, sensual pleasures, material gains, etc. because they have nothing better to fill their lives up with.

Buddhists deny the INDEPENDENT existence of phenomenon, or phenomenon in general, because we have paid close attention to phenomenon.
Other philosophies have not put any sincere investigation into how phenomenon exist and instead come up with radical theories about reality like absolute existence, nihilism, emanations of creator gods, etc. because they wanted a comprehensive doctrine but were unwilling to honestly check if their theories fit reality.
Ramon1920
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby KeithBC » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:22 am

Luke wrote:I heard someone make this statement:
"Buddhism denies the value and existence of life."

How would you reply to this statement?

I know that this is technically incorrect, but I do feel that Buddhism often presents itself in a way which can seem overly depressing and negative to most people.
Buddhism has had a long history of being incorrectly labeled as "nihilism" by outsiders.

The main reply I can think of is that Buddhism finds value in life as a result of its concept that all sentient beings have buddha nature.

Depending on the person asking and the circumstances of the question, I might just answer "WRONG!!!" or I might say that Buddhism is about putting an end to suffering and ask what could be more positive and life-affirming than that.

Om mani padme hum
Keith
User avatar
KeithBC
 
Posts: 414
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:22 pm
Location: East Coast of Canada

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby smcj » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:12 am

people can find value in life as a result of the conecpt that all sentient beings have the Buddha nature which is the 4 virtues (the Eternal, Blissful, the Self and the Pure)

When I said that the start of the search was provoked by samsara lacking the potential for a lasting happiness and we could not find an essential facticity, the end of that same search is finding the Eternal (=lasting), and Blissful (=happiness), having found the Self (=essential) Purity (=facticity/certainty).

The terms in which the problem is stated at the start of the search is designed to lead you ultimately to the proper conclusion. That is why making up your own Dharma at the beginning is such an error.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2079
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby ground » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:21 am

Luke wrote:I heard someone make this statement:
"Buddhism denies the value and existence of life."

How would you reply to this statement?

Maybe. :sage:
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:31 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby lobster » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:21 pm

How would you reply to this statement?


'Maybe' might be as good as is required. We are not trying to confirm, convert or answer the determinedly deluded. Through ignorance or premature compassion we may attempt an answer . . .

Maybe leading a valuable/precious existence is an answer . . .

:woohoo:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 952
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby steveb1 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:35 pm

You sometimes hear that old "Buddhism is negative" line from fundamentalist Christians. They don't want to hear about the positive(s). If you can get them to listen long enough, you can explain to them that Buddha actually said things like:

"I teach suffering"...

COMMA,

"... and the end of suffering"

PERIOD.

Some people don't want to allow Buddha to complete his sentence beyond the comma. Hence, "I teach suffering" is all that they permit themselves to hear.

They permit this mutilated and therefore falsified straw-man sentence stand for a Buddha and a Buddhism that are wholly fictional. Giving them the full sentence gives them the full Buddha, thus inviting them do see the Dharma as it is, rather than the illusional "Dharma" that they mistakenly hold.
steveb1
 
Posts: 288
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby wisdom » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:56 pm

This is false because Buddhist leads a person to experience the pinnacle and essence of life, giving meaning to all things and every moment beyond description.
User avatar
wisdom
 
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:33 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby seeker242 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:33 pm

Total ease, complete calm, absolute freedom, perfect happiness & pure peace…
Absence of any uncertainty, doubt, confusion, any delusion and all ignorance…
Presence of confidence, certainty, understanding all, and direct experience…
Absence of any greed, lust, desire, urge, attraction, hunger, and temptation…
Presence of imperturbable and serene composure in an all stilled equanimity…
Absence of all hate, anger, aversion, hostility, irritation, & stubborn rigidity…
Presence of universal goodwill: An infinite & all-embracing friendly kindness…


Sure does not sound negative to me!

People with a negative view of Buddhism often and only focus on the 1st Noble truth "life is suffering" and that's it. How to reply to that I think depends on the individual person on a case by case basis. Discussion of metta cultivation would probably be good as an "anti-negative" discussion. Discussion of metta cultivation alone could prove a "isn't all negative".
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
User avatar
seeker242
 
Posts: 709
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby vixian » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:55 am

If sharing on a purely personal level I think others can see an unflappable acceptance and engagement with life as it comes inspiring when so many in life run in circles chasing tails.

If it is a purely doctrinal question then I would not respond .. at my level of experience I can only express that the last couple of months have been the most satisfying and challenging ever but to have woken up is inexpressibly liberating ... what can be negative about real life and not living in a state if unconscious ignorance and suffering terribly for it ?
vixian
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:13 am

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:17 pm

seeker242 wrote:People with a negative view of Buddhism often and only focus on the 1st Noble truth "life is suffering" ...

...and that is a mis-statement of the First Noble Truth anyway. "Unsatisfactoriness is inherent in life" is closer, and it leaves room for the joys that life undeniably holds, while warning that they are transient.
See, for instance https://sites.google.com/site/rahulawhatthebuddha/the-first-noble-truth
The First Noble Truth (Dukkha-ariyasacca) is generally translated by almost all scholars as ‘The Noble Truth of Suffering’, and it is interpreted to mean that life according to Buddhism is nothing but suffering and pain. Both translation and interpretation are highly unsatisfactory and misleading. It is because of this limited, free and easy translation, and its superficial interpretation, that many people have been misled into regarding Buddhism as pessimistic.

Or http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble4.htm:
The First Noble Truth is not a dismal metaphysical statement saying that everything is suffering. Notice that there is a difference between a metaphysical doctrine in which you are making a statement about The Absolute and a Noble Truth which is a reflection. A Noble Truth is a truth to reflect upon; it is not an absolute; it is not The Absolute. This is where Western people get very confused because they interpret this Noble Truth as a kind of metaphysical truth of Buddhism - but it was never meant to be that.

You can see that the First Noble Truth is not an absolute statement because of the Fourth Noble Truth, which is the way of non-suffering. You cannot have absolute suffering and then have a way out of it, can you? That doesn’t make sense. Yet some people will pick up on the First Noble Truth and say that the Buddha taught that everything is suffering.

The Pali word, dukkha, means "incapable of satisfying" or "not able to bear or withstand anything": always changing, incapable of truly fulfilling us or making us happy.

Or http://www.zenguide.com/principles/truth_of_suffering.cfm:
HAPPINESS IN LIFE
When the Buddha said that there is suffering in life, He did not deny that there is happiness also. On the contrary, He spoke of various kinds of happiness, such as the happiness of friendship, the happiness of family life, and so on. But all these kinds of happiness are impermanent and when one loses them, one suffers. For example, one may like a pleasant and charming person and enjoy his or her company. But when one is separated from that person, the happiness turns into suffering. One suffers because of one's attachment to pleasures that do not last. People often remain unaware of the inevitable sufferings of life because they are distracted by temporary pleasures.


:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
 
Posts: 817
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Luke » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:33 pm

It's not just misinterpretations of the First Noble Truth which make Buddhism seem negative. It also all the talk about renunciation which seems ultra-depressing to most people who are not yet willing or capable of giving up all ordinary activities. Not everyone can drop everything and go meditate in a cave for the rest of their lives.

Here are some quotes from "The Heart Treasure of the Englightened Ones" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

"In this dark age, what people think and do is vile.
None of them will help you. They'll deceive and trick you;
And for you to be of any help to them will be hard;
Wouldn't it be best to just quit the whole rat race?"

"...Even if you die today, why be sad? It's the way of samsara.
Even if you live to be a hundred, why be glad? You will have long since gone.
Whether you live or die right now, what does this life matter?
Just practice Dharma [Buddhism] for the next life--that's the point."

Tibetan Buddhists who are able and willing to devote most of their lives to dharma practice may find such quotes inspiring, but for many other people, they simply make them develop an aversion towards Buddhism. Endless criticisms of ordinary working people's lives and endless praises of hermit yogis' lives are quite useless for many people. Eventually, people might just say, "Okay, you think we totally suck. We get it. Enough already!"

So many Tibetan Buddist quotes are like "How great it would be for me to die in this meditation cave! All I want to do is die in this meditation cave! How happy I am that I will die in this meditation cave!" and then I think, "Okay buddy, then just die in your meditation cave already and shut up about it!" lol

Most people are not willing to develop a large amount of renunciation, so a religion which requires a large amount of renunciation is quite useless for them. However, I believe that many parts of Buddhism can still be practiced while living as an ordinary, modern, working person.
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 1673
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:42 pm

Luke wrote:It's not just misinterpretations of the First Noble Truth which make Buddhism seem negative. It also all the talk about renunciation which seems ultra-depressing to most people who are not yet willing or capable of giving up all ordinary activities. Not everyone can drop everything and go meditate in a cave for the rest of their lives.

Here are some quotes from "The Heart Treasure of the Englightened Ones" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

"In this dark age, what people think and do is vile.
None of them will help you. They'll deceive and trick you;
And for you to be of any help to them will be hard;
Wouldn't it be best to just quit the whole rat race?"

"...Even if you die today, why be sad? It's the way of samsara.
Even if you live to be a hundred, why be glad? You will have long since gone.
Whether you live or die right now, what does this life matter?
Just practice Dharma [Buddhism] for the next life--that's the point."

Tibetan Buddhists who are able and willing to devote most of their lives to dharma practice may find such quotes inspiring, but for many other people, they simply make them develop an aversion towards Buddhism. Endless criticisms of ordinary working people's lives and endless praises of hermit yogis' lives are quite useless for many people. Eventually, people might just say, "Okay, you think we totally suck. We get it. Enough already!"

So many Tibetan Buddist quotes are like "How great it would be for me to die in this meditation cave! All I want to do is die in this meditation cave! How happy I am that I will die in this meditation cave!" and then I think, "Okay buddy, then just die in your meditation cave already and shut up about it!" lol

Most people are not willing to develop a large amount of renunciation, so a religion which requires a large amount of renunciation is quite useless for them. However, I believe that many parts of Buddhism can still be practiced while living as an ordinary, modern, working person.


are you interested in the Pure Land teachings?

Peace and Love
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 888
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Luke » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:38 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:are you interested in the Pure Land teachings?

Peace and Love

Somewhat, but I'm more interested in Zen/Chan right now.
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 1673
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:47 pm

Tibetan Buddhism has a whole huge history of non-renunciate practitioners as well..at least not renunciate in the classic sense. At any rate, obviously taken on the whole Tibetan Buddhism has a more ambivalent relationship to "the world" then just the quotes you gave.

Why should we care so much what these vaguely defined "some people" think about Buddhism anyway though?

Seeing wickedness in the world and having reason to turn away from it is hardly a unique message to Buddhism, read the Bible sometime for instance lol.
"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
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2548
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: proving that Buddhism isn't all negative

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:24 am

Luke wrote:It's not just misinterpretations of the First Noble Truth which make Buddhism seem negative. It also all the talk about renunciation which seems ultra-depressing to most people who are not yet willing or capable of giving up all ordinary activities. Not everyone can drop everything and go meditate in a cave for the rest of their lives.
... Endless criticisms of ordinary working people's lives and endless praises of hermit yogis' lives are quite useless for many people. Eventually, people might just say, "Okay, you think we totally suck. We get it. Enough already!"
... Most people are not willing to develop a large amount of renunciation, so a religion which requires a large amount of renunciation is quite useless for them. However, I believe that many parts of Buddhism can still be practiced while living as an ordinary, modern, working person.

You're perfectly right, Luke, but we can make a much stronger statement than that.
In traditionally-Buddhist countries (of all flavours of Dharma), the vast majority of Buddhists are lay people, not ordained and certainly not renunciates - just as, in traditionally-Christian countries, most Christians are lay people and the 'professionals' are a tiny minority.
And lay people's practice is not as intense and, in a lot of cases, doesn't go much past a weekly or monthly appearance at temple/church and some donations.
When we're comparing Buddhism with Christianity, explicitly or implicitly, we should take care to compare like with like.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
 
Posts: 817
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Next

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 12 guests

>