Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:50 am

A few weeks ago, though I am normally straight-edge, I ate a marijuana brownie. It made me have a life crisis and brought to an overflow doubts that were always there simmering in me. The addiction expert, Gabor Mate, says that most do drugs to cope with the world, to self-medicate, to numb themselves, but most tribal cultures use it to heighten awareness. I was mountain biking with my friend in the woods, and I was freaking out, losing my mind, panicking, paranoid as the effects truly kicked in, but I realized eventually that no one else at the trail who passed by gave a shit. They were totally separate from me and I from them, they exchanged niceties but they didn't mean anything behind it. They were so self absorbed they could not notice my unbearable distress. Honestly if it was not for my friend I would not have been in a state to make it out of the woods. When he drove me home it really hit me. The brownie made me hyper aware of every heartbeat, every breath, every sensation. I came under a delusion that if I could will it hard enough, I could stop my heart and end my life. Then I realized that deep down inside me I never really wanted to live.

There is something profoundly wrong with our civilization and way of living, I think the best, concise summary can be found in the The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein. According to him we are living under a false notion that we are separate from nature, other human beings, that we need to conquer and ascent nature via science and technology for a better life. In a seminar he says that most of us are living in constant, profound pain because of our false way of defining ourselves and leads us into a false relationship with our environment and other people.

Back to the car... I realized also in my state, that most the time people wear brave masks. If you feel mentally down or even suicidal like I was at that moment, you tend to put on false airs and act like everything is alright to deceive everyone around you that everyone is fine. I decided to hang up the mask and tell my friend outright in that car that I wanted to die, I wanted my heart to stop, and that I have never have wanted to live for a long time. In a state of lucidness alternating with delirium, I let everything pour out. Modern friends, especially of my generation are just people you share a superficial bond of mutual entertainment with and normally any meaningful topic is a transgression, a taboo. I told him, my brother, that friend and another friend via phone about actual inner thoughts without the usual false filters meant to portray that everything is ok or fear of judgement. If everyone else did the same the next day, our political, economic and military system would collapse, but it won't because the curtains are too heavy to move for most. For one, they haven't and won't even start the process of discovering there is such a curtain they always maintain to shield themselves and encapsulate the pain of living falsely in the world. People need to lie themselves and others to function and to situate themselves in our inhuman quagmire.

I told them how I never really felt a connection to anyone my whole life, never felt like I wanted to befriend or know anyone. Never met a girl I "wanted" as a girlfriend, either. People don't really connect to others in modern capitalistic societies, they tend to fake it, they interact over trivialities, they discuss openly the happenings of TV shows or sports teams, but they hide their inner pain, concern and wishes. Even that day, while I was in my room in my prescient delirium, my mom totally oblivious of my mental distress, started yelling because of the mud in the house, since I was so out of it I just stumbled into my room with muddy shoes. And I pointed out to them that was part of the reason I didn't want to live, even my own family doesn't really care about me in the way another type of family in a more healthy tribe would. My mom cares more about her concept of neatness and watching television 24/7 than understanding me. She just wants me to earn enough money and have a certain social status, because she is always nervous and has "survival anxiety" about money.

If you look at how society is set up, life has become a game of money. All everyone has to care about is their relationship to the corporation that pays them, this makes them feel they don't need other people, and also that they don't need to be a part of, or respect nature. They can be separate as long as they suck up to get the proper credentials for a social position that affords them enough money to procure the necessities for life. But this is a false, inhuman, unnatural way, it is a social invention of modern capitalist relations. When you don't have meaningful connection to your environment, to those around you, when you feel you have no purpose it wounds you profoundly. Eisenstein, points out that boredom is not something that existed before Western civilization's Industrial Civilization in the 18th Century. Pervasive boredom demonstrates that we are profoundly uneasy with being alone with our thoughts, that we are uncomfortable with ourselves, so when we are not occupied we are in distress. But in other societies people were just fine with doing "nothing" for hours, because they were at peace with themselves their concept of self, their community and their place in the world. I have ridden my bicycle for 20 miles on certain days and never seen a single kid out playing. This is what the capitalist money game has done to our sense of the world. Alot of the reason for this is because parents and kids themselves perceive the world as so uncaring and dangerous that going outside is uncomfortable. There will be no future for our society and way of life, perhaps thankfully, because there should not be a future for this false path.

According to Studs Terkel in his maverick book Working ... most people spend their lives working jobs that are too small to encompass their souls. My whole life I have worked shitty jobs that pay too little even for an independent livelihood. I have spent some time trying to understand the social machinery, to find myself, to hide wounded in a corner from the world and none trying to play the career ladder game. I go out and I see vain people, so called friends, lamenting how they envy the rare rich person who drives by in a status symbol like a Ferrari and it wounds me. They have inhuman economic values and they envy those who make selfish pacts with corporations against the rest of society and nature itself, to their comparative reward. That is all our social system amounts to, the psychopaths who horde and deny other beings most are the most rewarded, and those who give away what little they have in the first place, are just forgotten when they have nothing left to give. Most don't ever want to see this, they hide in drugs, the entertainment complex in escapism to ignore the wounds this social order causes them.

I feel like a creature from another planet that does not belonged here and I don't think I want to ever belong to such a world as previous generations mostly, but also us, have built for ourselves. This refusal has become my identity and sense of self, thus life for me is a constant existential crisis after another, and not really something immanently livable.

My question is:
1) Is dharma alone enough to make life worth living even if you aren't content with anything about your life(what you do for money, your family, your living situation, the society you live in, your friends, your place in the world, etc.)?

Perhaps a better way way of putting it, is that dharma alone could do it for some people, but I don't think it would for me. In my delirium state I felt kind of like a Piraha or other Amazonian tribesmen ripped away and transfixed into our social nightmare. We take so much for granted and use too many chicaneries and false hooks to ground ourselves to a way of life we should destroy and try to uproot for a new way. We are supposed to be interconnected and inter-dependent with other people, with our environmental context, but money perverts that. Even the Dalai Lama laments that Buddhism has no answer for our social system and its problems, so he advocates to combine Marxism with Buddhism.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby maybay » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:56 am

Thrasymachus wrote:1) Is dharma alone enough to make life worth living even if you aren't content with anything about your life(what you do for money, your family, your living situation, the society you live in, your friends, your place in the world, etc.)?

I'd say its worth a shot.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby kirtu » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:04 am

Thrasymachus wrote: It made me have a life crisis and brought to an overflow doubts that were always there simmering in me.


I am sorry that you have experienced something that seems profoundly negative but it seems like you have fallen in the mud and then gotten angry that you got a little dirty. While you may have some further insight into the games our societies teach us to play it seems that you are focusing on these games and forms quite a bit and esp. as they relate to you, so from a self-centered perspective.

Society is a source of suffering because it is dominated by ignorance from which all the defilements (greed, lust, aversion, hatred, jealousy, etc) flow. All people are suffering from intoxication to these defilements. It also seems that you have touched on a desire fro oblivion - something that the Buddha did indeed talk about at least in the Pali suttas as a highly negative state of mind.


1) Is dharma alone enough to make life worth living even if you aren't content with anything about your life(what you do for money, your family, your living situation, the society you live in, your friends, your place in the world, etc.)?


Apparently not for most people otherwise more people would leave the householder life for a least a life of a householder where they have abandoned all attachment to the world.

However you have to decide for yourself what you want to do or need to do in this life. On top of that there are very practical considerations of the necessity to gather resources for the life you want to lead.

Perhaps a better way way of putting it, is that dharma alone could do it for some people, but I don't think it would for me. In my delirium state I felt kind of like a Piraha or other Amazonian tribesmen ripped away and transfixed into our social nightmare.


Okay, but it seems like your experience has really shaken you up negatively. Why not take some time to consider what you should do next.

We are supposed to be interconnected and inter-dependent with other people, with our environmental context, but money perverts that.


Nope, money does not prevent that and cannot prevent our interconnections and interdependence. The effect of money can have a negative effect on our ability to help others, etc. but it cannot affect the interdependence.

Even the Dalai Lama laments that Buddhism has no answer for our social system and its problems, so he advocates to combine Marxism with Buddhism.


I'm not sure how true this actually is. Of course Marxism per se is mostly a criticism of 19th century capitalism.

Your unfortunate experience does not change the fact that your mind is a kind of sleeping Buddha. People need your help daily but in fact we have little ability to help beings. With serious effort you can become a Buddha able to help beings in a few short lifetimes.

So what do you do next?

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby LastLegend » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:28 am

If people suffer greatly as such conditions that would not allow them to practice Dharma such as people are struggled to find a meal to eat everyday, then there is no time and energy to put towards Dharma. But the good thing about karma is if you do good such as practice giving a couple cents or dollars over a long period of time, you will gain wealth. You will not be hungry to be exact. But wealth and material possessions are tools and if we are attached to these tools and let these take control of us then we will not be happy either. Yes, the conditions need to be met for one to practice Dharma properly.

Yes, we live in a stressful environment and this can affect us that is why we should always stay close to Dharma.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby catmoon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:08 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:

My question is:
1) Is dharma alone enough to make life worth living even if you aren't content with anything about your life(what you do for money, your family, your living situation, the society you live in, your friends, your place in the world, etc.)?



I think so. Although the Dharma is not a quick fix, steady practice can so change the mind that the world is perceived in an entirely new way. One can come to see the reasons things are the way they are, that there is no cause for condemnation or depression but our own views. One can set foot on a rising path, a path on which daily practice of kindness becomes paramount, a path that transforms the traveller into a fountain of merit that floods out into the world with inexorable force. The daily grind can become a mere setting in which the real life occurs. The difficult relationships ease, and one begins to be aware of others on the same path. New relationships begin, dharma relationships that run deep and strong. The world seems to change, but it is not so. The journey changes the traveller.

Not only can Dharma make your life worth living - it is the only thing that can be make it worth living. In any religion, you will find fulfilled people and saints, and they are all following Dharmic principles. Of course we are following their principles as well, and they may fairly view us as following their principles, but nonetheless holy people arise, in dependence on kindness, compassion, gentleness, generosity and contemplation. and these are things we can work on a bit at a time, a little every day.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby AlexanderS » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:17 pm

Very nice Catmoon
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:50 pm

I kind of expected these types of answers, I suspected I would not even fit in a Buddhist/dharma forum or even social space, probably one of the reasons why I never sought one out.

The best way to argue is for you to see this, because debate will not make you understand. Here is a video of an Amazonian Piraha tribesmen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHv3-U9VPAs

Can you point out to me any Buddhist lama, guru, Tulku, etc., captured on video that approaches anything close to the natural happiness, ease with himself, contentedness, confidence of his place in the social and natural world, that man exudes? You don't even have to know what he says you can just tell from his demeanor, beaming face and lack of apparent anxiety that he is a profoundly more evolved type of human being than any of us. I have seen many videos of the Dalai Lama care-freely laughing or smiling, or Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche condemning Western practioners for being too joyless, austere and not joking or being lively enough in their practice, but they are rank amateurs compared to that simple Piraha. This goes to what Charles Eisenstein tried to show in his work, that how we view ourselves and our place in the world is profoundly wrong, and it causes wounds to our psyche. Dharma can only serve as a constant palliative though in my view and not a true solution(especially so for me). The Piraha have no way in their language to delineate past, present or future so they are always more situated to the given movement rather than lamenting the past or hoping for a future. They have no way of express complex numbers, they only have the concepts of one, some, many, so they are always close to what in Buddhism the non-attachment of a monk to material goods and desires. They achieve what most dharma practitioners can only dream via language lacking most higher level symbolic thought and manner of relating to their environment and each other. This is why Gautama Buddha revealed Buddhist teachings, because he knew the way the people of his Indian Kingdom was living was wrong, and they needed a guide. But he left out the possibility of dealing with the social context, so it only could ever be a personal attainment that only a few were openly stated to be able to achieve. Our sense of self, the environment and ourselves is too limited and wrong it will always cause suffering, because we need to relate to others and our environment like that Piraha man does, which is why he is effortlessly happy in a way that dwarfs any Tulku "celebrity" you could use a counterpoint. Buddhism touches on this weakly, it attacks our illusion of an inherently existing self(for one), but it is too weak, because is too neutral on the direction of the social system. Thus it condemns Buddhists to seek a more personal path, but people operate in social space-time, not personal space-time.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Jesse » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:08 pm

Buddhism touches on this weakly, it attacks our illusion of an inherently existing self(for one), but it is too weak, because is too neutral on the direction of the social system.


I would suggest looking into engaged Buddhism, but the way I see Buddhism, one cannot practice and not make a positive impact on the world around him/herself.

This is why Gautama Buddha revealed Buddhist teachings, because he knew the way the people of his Indian Kingdom was living was wrong, and they needed a guide. But he left out the possibility of dealing with the social context, so it only could ever be a personal attainment that only a few were openly stated to be able to achieve.


What is society comprised of? Individuals, Society does not change at some abstract level, change in society reflects collective change in individuals.

I understand where you are coming from, but I think the notion that the world/society can not change for the better because of advancement, is untrue. The problem's our world faces are greed, anger, aversion, confusion, ignorance, but not progress. Though the direction of our progress probably reflects these underlying problems.

Anyways -- Yes, we can be as happy as those humble native people.. but can we do so by speculation, rather than practicing something? No. :smile:
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:10 pm

1. Stay off the hash brownies. Obviously you have some underlying depression and the brownies just exacerbate it.
2. Stop whining. You even whine about the Piraha tribesmans happiness. You should be happy about his happiness, not angry that you are not as happy as he is. In Tibetan Budhism sympathetic joy is stronger than personal joy since it is more encompassing and not ego centred.
3. Find yourself a good teacher, explain your issue and ask them for a practice that will help you deal with your lack of joy.
:namaste:
PS Yes, Dharma alone is more than enough.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby maybay » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:17 pm

stories.gif
stories.gif (108.01 KiB) Viewed 2483 times

Lots of stories...nom nom nom....
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby catmoon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:33 pm

I watch the video, and I see a happy guy. I have seen many before, and will see many more. The rest is imagination.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Thrasymachus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:55 am

Wild animals locked in cages for their whole lives like foxes and mink on fur farms develop certain nervous patterns of compensation. They often constantly pace if possible, they chew on the cage, they smash themselves against the mesh, self-mutilate, viciously fight each other, etc. Humans are no different in our society because our social settings are also totally unnatural and do not allow our natural inclinations. Just about everyone you meet will tend to have a similar pattern of compensation that helps them cope like being workaholic, drug addict, be overweight or have other issues surrounding food and weight regulation, be a smoker, alcoholic, shopping addict, tv addict, phone addict, etc. I don't really see anyone around me that can make say: "They have everything together," all I see is wounded humanity compensating/coping as best they can.

I see from your responses that most of you have the same type of fake brave mask. Many(most?) of you have same habit of ignoring the possibility of questioning and introspecting the handed by posterity social order and elite authority, these external social norms. Instead of say tv to ignore it like most outside this forum you use Buddhism. Funnily enough, the mere fact you even turned to dharma showed something was not right for you or you would have stayed in the orbit of your native religious and spiritual tradition for answers.

kirtu wrote:Society is a source of suffering because it is dominated by ignorance from which all the defilements (greed, lust, aversion, hatred, jealousy, etc) flow. ...
Nope, money does not prevent that and cannot prevent our interconnections and interdependence. ...

I don't think you could say past societies were dominated by greed the way ours is and I wouldn't use it as an excuse that Buddhism always dealt with or talked about greed and other vices to argue that the problem has maintained a flat curve through time from Gautama Buddha till now, because it has exploded. In the past, in most societies, the majority of people didn't need money for everything, they procured some of the means of livelihood like shelter, food, fuel, clothing, etc. directly, but today you do just one very small disconnected job, receive a salary and buy the rest. In a way we are more interconnected because of this, but in a bad way. In most of my jobs: produce clerk, house painter, warehouse worker, Fedex stacker: tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of people were involved in some way in the supply chain of the goods and services involved in my job. But I never saw and interacted with any of them, knew their names, or even bonded much with most my immediate co-workers. Because it does not matter in capitalism, and the spread of money, corporate organization and the further division of labor all conspired to make this happen. All that matters is if you are paid hourly or by piece, performance. Before the Civil War most Americans were craftsmen and worked right out of their homes in small cottage industries. Back then if you were a total ass, even a rich one, it would have had much bigger consequences, the other blacksmith, boot-maker, could be miles and miles away if you angered him it would work against you. Reputation still mattered back then. Today we have a corporate motto that became societal: "the customer is always right."

@Catmoon: Not only did I cite that video, but I said you cannot even find, say any of the heads of any of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism depicted in any video to be as carefree, free of anxiety and as ease for as long a duration. If it was easy to do I assume another forumer would have pointed a countervailing video by now instead of misinterpreting my request or trying to minimize lack of modern anxiety he had.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Like Eisenstein said and I iterated before, just our way of socially relating to each other, our modern condition of existence hurts. It hurts just to exist, just to be, because you don't have so many necessary things like a communicative supportive family, a meaningful job, a firm place in a caring community, etc. And if this was not the case you likely wouldn't be here in this forum, you would have been content with your traditional spiritual tradition. I was raised by a Greek Orthodox family, but even as a kid I realized it was bs and not beneficial. Then I became an atheist, but it left me perhaps even more hopeless, till in 2008 I discovered a book by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. But if I didn't have crisis, I would not have cared to look elsewhere.

In closing I see our social rules, institutions, evolving for the worse over time. However dharma achievement was always purported to be a pyramid and most will not achieve much relief in their lifetime, because they have not meet the necessary causes and conditions. Maybe if there were lots of decades long ex-drug addicts, child rape victims, orphans, ex convicts realizing a high attainment in dharma I would feel different. But I just see there being much of a future anymore, like I said where I live in the USA kids don't even go outside, only 19% know all their neighbors, 28% know none! So social evil and disconnect is evolving fast, while dharma is likely staying still or even shrinking.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Jesse » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:58 am

Perfection is a dream. There are terrible things in this world, but there are also beautiful things. If you don't let go of all that negativity, fear and egoism, then yes the world will always seem like a terrible place, all the while beauty is hitting you over the head like a ton of bricks.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Thrasymachus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:23 am

Again you use Buddhism as an excuse to say the world is never gonna be perfect and to ignore the imperfection. Maybe it is also because many of you are older than me so you don't know how hopeless and lost it is for the new generations. I know that utopia is just something in men's heads, but this civilization is a particular disease that gets worse over time. Most the people my age(29) don't even have the self-discipline, time, or inclination to cook and prepare three meals -- and these are the people who are raising a new generation and passing their values and many faults on.

I don't doubt that if I practiced more earnestly it would have helped more, as your attitude affects your environment and outlook, but it cannot transform material or social conditions much. It is also hard to practice when you have no refugee or sanctuary either at work or at home. Ultimately when you have no meaningful connections with others, no seeming purpose in life, nothing to belong to, which is the situation of most, you will always have to repair or try to ignore the wound. I see dharma as only a palliative and not a cure.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Jesse » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:34 am

I'm not using Buddhism per-say, only my experience. Which is fairly limited, as I am only 28 myself..

it cannot transform material or social conditions much


Think about how something as simple as a genuine smile, could transform another person's day, and every thought and action thereafter, and (in a very small way) effects the people whom they also come into contact with as well, and on and on.

We can create alot more change than we generally give ourselves credit for. When we keep a positive frame of mind, many great things open up for us..
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Fa Dao » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:56 am

Thrasvmachus,
it seems to me that your observations of the world are not unlike those that the Buddha had 2600 years ago. His compassion for the suffering found in the human condition prompted him to leave his life behind and find the truth behind that suffering. I hear your pain. As to the happiness of your tribesman...well..you are seeing a brief clip of time in one mans life. We all have had brief clips like that from time to time. Perhaps you might want to seriously consider taking up not just the study of this Path but also its practice. The best and most compassionate thing you can do for the world is to get your own shit together, see through this illusion, then help others do the same. I sincerely hope you find the peace you are looking for.
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby maybay » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:01 am

Thrasymachus wrote:where I live in the USA kids don't even go outside, only 19% know all their neighbors, 28% know none! So social evil and disconnect is evolving fast, while dharma is likely staying still or even shrinking.

So get out there buddy, stop being such a hypocrit!
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:50 am

Thrasymachus wrote:I see dharma as only a palliative and not a cure.


Then you do not know what Dharma is. And you do not know the true source of all your misery--your own mind. And so you do not know that that misery is not inevitable, but is based on merely adventitious stains.

Within your own mind--should you thoroughly investigate--is the inherent capacity to self-liberate from all delusion and pain; also inherent is the natural responsiveness of wisdom and compassion that can guide all others to true, permanent ease, joy, and freedom from delusion. If you want the world to be a better place, you must first be the change you wish to see in the world, as Gandhi said. And once you have found your own true nature, you can effectively point out to others their true nature.
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:18 am

So Thrasymachus, you've had your whine, the world is a shit pot, (you can be sure that older people realise this just as much as younger people, try being 45 years old and unemployed and see how that feels) and Dharma is not the solution.

You say that changing ones attitude cannot transform social and material conditions. You are 100% wrong. Without a change in attitude the basis for a change in social and material conditions cannot come into being. As long as people are satisfied with a materialistic greed oriented lifestyle they will have no motivation at all to change the existing system apart from making it more efficient in satisfying their materialism.

You see without an ideology of change there is no greater vision for one to sacrifice oneself for. If it's all just me-me-me then how can there be change? Nobody is going to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the greater "Me' are they (since there is no such thing)? Without an "Us" or a "We' then there is no basis for change, only ineffectual personal rebellion which can easily be crushed, or, in your case, depression at your incapacity and frustration to institute real change.

Bodhicitta and compassion are tools to institute change, not only for oneself but for the alleviation of suffering for all beings. Don't be disenheartened by "Buddhists" that use Buddhism just for themselves to feel good. That's not all there is to Buddhism.

Try to track down a video called "Buddhas Lost Children" or "Doing Time Doing Vipassana" or teachings by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (Engaged Buddhism) to see social aspects of Buddhist practice.

And if you hink it's bad in the US come and visit us here in Greece for a barrel of laughs! ;)
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Can dharma alone make life worth living?

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:05 pm

Thrasymachus, from what you've written it sounds like you've made the first crucial realization, that things as we see them and the way we experience life as it is is dissatisfactory. This is actually wonderful news because now, like you pointed out for all of us, you have a reason to investigate further. So the next step is to ask, what are the characteristics of this dissatisfaction? What are its causes and its effects? What are the characteristics of the dissatisfied (you)?

If I may be presumptuous, I think this next step is where you're hitting a wall. You say others seem totally separate and disinterested, self-absorbed, that society has irreparable ills, that you feel like a pariah superimposed among others. I felt something very similar for a long while, when I was depressed and suicidal for so long I didn't even notice that's what was happening.

It's tragic in a way to simultaneously feel our views are mere reflections of reality and to therefore externalize this suffering and then look for our solace precisely where we will never, ever find it. As you said yourself, the world "out there" will do nothing to ease your suffering. You'll find no argument from anyone here.

I think the problem isn't your life, your friends, others, or even society. The problem for me, and I think for you to some degree, is one of view. And that mistaken view is that we ARE self-existing suffering beings and therefore powerless to influence this medium of society/world we seem to be floating in. The question you ask from the start shows this view, looking to the dharma or anything "out there" to make life "in here" worth living.

Instead of the natural reaction to rattle your cage in frustration when faced with pain or fear, look at the nature of your cage, i.e. the framework itself that you base your assumptions on. By this I mean your ideas of yourself, the nature of what we assume this package of "me" is, what is affected by the suffering you feel, where that suffering goes, etc. After all, trying to escape dissatisfaction won't work, and until you look at your basic "obvious" assumptions about how your mind and the world work, you won't know WHY you feel things, or even what you're really seeing. You'll only have the results of separation: depression, hopelessness, powerlessness.

Perception and projection are two concepts that fascinate me greatly, and I recommend you read a thread on here about that very subject since it directly has to do with the world we make for ourselves. Here: viewtopic.php?f=77&t=7295

There's nothing particularly "beliefy" in basic Buddhism. That seems to be where some of your distaste for dharma is coming from here. Beliefs can be useful indicators of where to look but if you stop there, it's like sitting down at the signpost in the middle of the road. Pretty useless, isn't it? The dharma is like a map... It can show you were to look for things, what their characteristics may be like. It can even help you get somewhere. No one would confuse the map for the place, however.

Suffering is a basic truth of life, yet few choose to enter into it for a closer look... they distract themselves endlessly until they die. Rejoice that you've taken the first step. Will you stop at the door, or come in for a closer look? :)

Best of luck. I really hope you can get a handle on things.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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