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Wise Understanding of Dukkha - Dhamma Wheel

Wise Understanding of Dukkha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Sally
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Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Sally » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:14 pm

Hello. I listened to a talk yesterday, and something about the emphasis bothered me. The teacher said that meditation should usually be about finding suffering within, and focusing on it.

My understanding of the First Noble Truth is that a fairly correct translation of it is "there is dissatisfaction", but that it is often translated in a more global way as "life is suffering".

I feel comfortable with the first translation, but not with the second.

As I understand it, the Buddha taught many kinds of meditation depending upon the needs and development of the student.

It does not feel wholesome to me that such an emphasis was placed on focusing on 'suffering'.

I am feeling disappointed at the possibility that the Buddhist community I have been a part of for many years is not offering teachings that are well balanced.

I welcome your perspective.

Sally

PeterB
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:02 pm

I dont think that the Buddhist Community is offering teachings at all Sally. Its always, at least in the Theravada tradition a question of individual interpretation.
Obviously I wasn't present at the teachings, but I wonder if the teacher was saying that Dukkha is always present in any experience. That doesn't mean that all there is is Dukkha. Certainly the idea of focussing on suffering seems odd.
Most forms of meditation are about awareness of what is arising, and if that at any given time is Dukkha then that will become the focus...until it changes which all impermanent states do.
I wonder whether he was warning against simply identifying with apparently positive states. Because of course they are constantly changing too.

Kenshou
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Kenshou » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:29 pm

We have to understand for ourselves how it is that dukkha originates so that we can find out how to stop it, and for this reason it is good to take notice of suffering as it comes and goes, as well as why. This would be my guess about what that teacher was getting at, not that we should focus on suffering for it's own sake.

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Monkey Mind
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Monkey Mind » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:23 pm

I heard a teacher say something similar, try this on. During the moments when we are meditating and experience some type of discomfort [a back ache, legs fall asleep, feeling drowsy], these become the best practice moments because we can train ourselves to observe the origin, rise, and dissipation of the discomfort and our psychological reaction to the discomfort.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

Shonin
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Shonin » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:22 pm

I think 'there is dissatisfaction' and 'conditioned phenomena are unsatisfactory' is better translation than "life is suffering", which is pessimistic and untrue. Life includes pleasant as well as unpleasant experiences. It's just that, conditioned by craving and aversion, these experiences are not ultimately fulfilling.

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mikenz66
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:36 pm


Sally
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Sally » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:09 am

Dear Community,

Thank you so much for sharing your understanding, experience, and quotes. I am very grateful. In my five years with this community, I was always comfortable with the way that dukkha was discussed. I am very familiar with it arising within me during my meditations, as well, and most of the time do not avoid it.

For whatever reason, my teacher did indeed state that he actively looks for suffering within himself in most of his meditations, and he recommended that we do the same. This just does not seem right to me. There are other indications that some time away from this community is best for me at this time. Unfortunately, these indications are very pronounced. I need to care well for myself.

Thank you for hearing me and responding.

Sally

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Alex123
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Alex123 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:17 am

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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retrofuturist
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:19 am

Greetings Sally,

It might be worth clarifying what your teacher means. If he means the causes of suffering, or examining suffering in order to identify its causes then this is likely to be valuable. If the contemplation just results in a wallowing in suffering, then clearly it's not.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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

nameless
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby nameless » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:58 am

Does he really mean what you think he means? Maybe it would be useful to seek clarification.

We derive meaning based on our conditioning, that certain words in certain sequences mean certain things. And in the overall language, I can be certain that we both speak English and that what I mean is being transmitted to you. But in subtle ways, we might say the same thing but mean something different, or say different things that mean the same. Basically when we communicate, what happens is "if I say these words in this sequence it would mean this, he said these words in the same sequence, hence he must mean the same", and most of the time it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Perhaps, even if he is a lousy teacher who's teaching the wrong stuff, there can be a more beneficial attitude to take towards the situation. Basically what you're saying is (or to illustrate my point, what I would mean if I said the same things) I'm not comfortable, it's not wholesome, it's not well balanced, hence it's wrong and I should go elsewhere. It's wrong because I don't like it/I'm not comfortable with it/it does not fit my expectation about what Buddhism should be about. But that's conceit! "I know better so if it doesn't fit my expectations it is wrong". Of course I'm not encouraging blind faith, but rather than take something as wrong because it doesn't fit your expectations, maybe another attitude you could take is "It doesn't sound right, but does he have a point? Let's think about it a little before deciding, let's try and see if it works". And of course if it doesn't you can then conclude maybe it's wrong or not for you at the time.

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jcsuperstar
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:21 am

vipassana, as i understand it, is insight into the true nature of things, and according to the Buddha all conditioned things are not-self, impermanent and dukkha(suffering, stressful, unsatisfactory whatever you want to translate it as), so if one is meditating in order for insight to arise then one is in a way actively searching for suffering. it could be compared to a biologist in the field who is searching for a specific animal in order to study it. without her study no wisdom of the nature of this creature can be known, and without the search no study can be done so she has to search, one good way is to just set up a base and wait to trap the creature, take a good look at it and learn what she can.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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dhamma_spoon
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:06 pm


PeterB
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:41 pm

Are you saying that they are confused because of Dukkha ? Or because there are so many translations of Dukkha ? Or that their Dukkha is the result of confusion ?

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dhamma_spoon
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:59 pm


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Goedert
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby Goedert » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:02 am


rowyourboat
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:14 pm

I think there is a big difference in looking for the TRUTH of suffering (understanding, insight based) as opposed to the EMOTION of suffering (mood, feeling). One leads to letting go, the other, perhaps worsening of the problem, perhaps understanding its roots.

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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dhamma_spoon
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby dhamma_spoon » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:16 pm


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ground
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby ground » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:01 am

I would suggest the following view:
Perfect renunciation is one cause of liberation. Disenchantment is one cause of perfect renunciation. Disenchantment entails not clinging to what is called "life" in any way and that means not expecting anything from what is called "life". If there remains anything about "life" which does not stand for "dukkha" then this may be the crucial obstacle. Because what is "life"? It is the total of thought experiences in the context of the past, thought experiences in the context of the present and thought experiences in context of the future and all these are thought about in the context of "I" and "mine". Active rejection of the idea that all of "life" is dukkha necessarily is concomittant with attachment to "life". Being attached to "life" is being attached to experiences is being attached to phenomena is being attached to the thought of being the experiencer i.e. being attached to "I" and "mine".
The decisive point for the extension of the meaning of "dukkha" in one's mind seems to be the intention. A mind really intent on liberation will not accept a compromise. However a mind really intent on liberation actually is an effect of practice because initially the self-centered striving for what is commonly called "happiness" prevails.

Kind regards

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dhamma_spoon
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Re: Wise Understanding of Dukkha

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:21 am

Dear Dhamma friend TMing (and other readers) -

I found myself nodding often as I was reading through your Dhamma-wise comment. Yes, I totally agree with your suggestion. :thanks:

TMing: "Perfect renunciation is one cause of liberation. Disenchantment is one cause of perfect renunciation. Disenchantment entails not clinging to what is called "life" in any way and that means not expecting anything from what is called "life". If there remains anything about "life" which does not stand for "dukkha" then this may be the crucial obstacle. Because what is "life"? It is the total of thought experiences in the context of the past, thought experiences in the context of the present and thought experiences in context of the future and all these are thought about in the context of "I" and "mine". Active rejection of the idea that all of "life" is dukkha necessarily is concomittant with attachment to "life". Being attached to "life" is being attached to experiences is being attached to phenomena is being attached to the thought of being the experiencer i.e. being attached to "I" and "mine".
The decisive point for the extension of the meaning of "dukkha" in one's mind seems to be the intention. A mind really intent on liberation will not accept a compromise. However a mind really intent on liberation actually is an effect of practice because initially the self-centered striving for what is commonly called "happiness" prevails.

Dhamma_spoon : The last sentence is a crucial balance to the extreme view that only sees "no self", "no doer", "nobody practices".

But who am I to say? I am just a spoon, hanging in there. :stirthepot:


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