Why end suffering?

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Why end suffering?

Postby lotwell » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:58 pm

Based on the assumption that the end of all suffering is the ultimate goal of the bodhisattva's path, why end suffering?

Suffering is not a bad thing. In fact, it is really quite beautiful. Without suffering, we would not have the ability to expereience and cultivate compassion.

Furthermore, it seems that suffering will not go away. Keeping in mind that enlightened being are just as human as we are, do they not experience headahces?

Of course we must distinguish between pain and suffering. Pain arising from our nervous system and suffering being a product of our mental reactions.

So it would seem that finding a cure to cancer, as an example, is pointless when compared to educating the world on how to manage their suffering because as soon as cancer is cured, another form of extreme suffering will arise in another form.

Did I just answer my own question? I'm not sure. Any comments would be appreciated!

Love all your forumers,

Lotwell
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby MrDistracted » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:15 pm

lotwell wrote:Suffering is not a bad thing. In fact, it is really quite beautiful.


It's images like this that make me disagree with you on that.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby lotwell » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:39 pm

Good point Mr. Distracted, thank you for responding.

Of course, suffering can be extremely brutal and heart renching. But should we completely do away with it, even if we could? Just asthere is this photo there is also a photo of someone experiencing complete and boundless ecstasy.

The emotional reaction experienced from this emotionally loaded picture shows us how suffering does indeed act as a catalyst for true compassion. What is beautiful is not the individual suffering as depicted above but the larger process.

In Buddhism we are striving for equanimity via the middle way. Perhaps the same is true of suffering. To be hungry and suffer and then to be satisfied is part of life and through this we can do our practice. However, in the picture there are many more factors and causes at work, such as greed, corrupted systems, etc.

Thank you,
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby MrDistracted » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:10 pm

Why on earth would you want to suffer if you didn't have to? Or, more's the point, wish it upon any else if it was unneccesary?

Are you saying that without suffering you couldn't experience happiness, sort of thing? Like if it wasn't for enduring winter you couldn't enjoy the onset of spring?
I don't think that the kind of peace that the Bodhisattva has as a goal for everyone, ie enlightenment,needs a reference or contrast like that. Duality is over, finito, curtains.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby justsit » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:28 pm

+1 ^

And perhaps, Lotwell, if the picture above was of you or your child, you might feel differently.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Quiet Heart » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:57 am

:smile:
I know what you mean when you say "ending suffering", but look deeper and see:

1. The "purpose" of suffering. People...sentient beings...are born into the matierial world. They grow up accepting that world as "normal". They never see or think of what their everyday actions (as my vegetarian friends would say...eating meat) cause in their everyday world. It is the awareness of suffering...because these human beings are also sentient beings...that humans can choose to start the path to ultimate liberation. Without that they might remain in the illusion of "happiness" of the so-called normal everyday world.
2. Many scientific and medical discoveries began with the awareness of sufferring. Again suffering was the ultimate cause of the effort and work rerquired to find methods of preventing or curing such diseases as Yellow Fever, Cholera, Polio...etc.

So you see, "sufferring" and "joy" are really just like a coin...with two sides...and you can't end one side of the coin without the other.

But, more fundametaly, what you really mean (I think) is not "ending suffering" but ending the pain of suffering for human beings...sentient human beings.
Ending the pain of suffering comes in Buddhisim from realising the impermanentce of all things matierial and the realization of that fact as a part of the combined joy/pain of existance as a human being...a sentient being...who (as the Greeks understood it) walks with his/her feet in the mud and muck, but holds his/her head in the air and looks upward.
When you understand that point and come to the realization of that point...of your nature as a sentient human being...your fear of "suffering" ends. doesn't it?
:smile:
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Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Sonam Wangchug » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:12 am

I find the initial questions to be absurd, however granted you are just sincerely asking.

Suffering is not beautiful, I think you can only say that from a space of fair comfort, and obviously you've had some suffering in your life but not likely very extreme cases as does happen to others.

Certainty The buddha is not 'just as human' as the rest of us, he may have appeared in a human body and that body itself had limitations, but buddha is beyond suffering, and he is beyond being a normal human as human being is a realm of samsara, he was not bound by samsara, so it is not fit to say he is a normal human, as he was outside of the human realm, it being a realm of samsara but of course he had a human form for the duration of his life.

I doubt this would be your view if you were born in the hell realms, I think only some humans with some degree of luxury can day dream about how suffering is beautiful, to me it lacks being realistic, and I don't think it would hold up to intense suffering. Mind you in general are lives are 'ok' but there will come times where sickness old age and death will happen to us. We may be reborn in the lower realms were there suffering is much more intense, or in the realms where the suffering has no end, so no suffering is not some beautiful and wonderful thing.

Your ideas just seem way off track man .. really now ..
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:17 am

compassion is defined as the wish to prevent others from suffering. its not as though you suddenly begin wishing that people should suffer just because they are not suffering. no, you still continue to enjoy their lack of suffering and wish that they remain that way. and so compassion continues in the absence of suffering.

i have trouble seeing the philosophical idea that suffering is beautiful as something other than being silly--i just cant understand it any other way
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Dhondrub » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:01 pm

This conversations sheds a bit light on the truth and meaning of suffering http://www.purifymind.com/GoodMedicine.htm
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby lotwell » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:39 pm

Hi folks, thanks for your responses.

Just so you all know, I'm not some masochistic supporter of unnecessary suffering and promoter of famine on the other end of your computer screen. Instead, I have taken up this stance, purely on a hypothetical level, in order to explore the motives and deeper aspects of engaged buddhism and the bodhisattva's path. So in order to continue our dialog I'll respond to the points you all have raised.

Why on earth would you want to suffer if you didn't have to? Or, more's the point, wish it upon any else if it was unneccesary?


Suffering can be the greatest teacher. Of course we don't want to get ascetic or self inflict harm and distance ourselves from the middleway. One scenario that comes to mind is China's invasion of Tibet. No one would have wished such horrendous events to occur, but it did act as a catalyst for spreading Buddhism all around the world. Another one is the zen master's use of the keisaku or even violence as a means for his students sudden enlightenment.

Duality [the duality that exists pre-enlightenment] is over, finito, curtains.


So then suffering and cessation of suffering are one and indistinguishable? Neither good nor bad, neighter to be sought nor avoided.

And perhaps, Lotwell, if the picture above was of you or your child, you might feel differently.


Of course I experience the same reaction of pity and compassion for this picture like everyone else. But to respond, I would say this is true. It is also true of girlfriends, pets, family members etc. because of attachment. But I understand that the the path of the bodhisattva knows none of these attachments and loves and shares compassion equally with all sentient creatures whether they are starving in sudan or sleeping next to one.

I find the initial questions to be absurd, however granted you are just sincerely asking.

Suffering is not beautiful, I think you can only say that from a space of fair comfort, and obviously you've had some suffering in your life but not likely very extreme cases as does happen to others.

Certainty The buddha is not 'just as human' as the rest of us, he may have appeared in a human body and that body itself had limitations, but buddha is beyond suffering, and he is beyond being a normal human as human being is a realm of samsara, he was not bound by samsara, so it is not fit to say he is a normal human, as he was outside of the human realm, it being a realm of samsara but of course he had a human form for the duration of his life.

I doubt this would be your view if you were born in the hell realms, I think only some humans with some degree of luxury can day dream about how suffering is beautiful, to me it lacks being realistic, and I don't think it would hold up to intense suffering. Mind you in general are lives are 'ok' but there will come times where sickness old age and death will happen to us. We may be reborn in the lower realms were there suffering is much more intense, or in the realms where the suffering has no end, so no suffering is not some beautiful and wonderful thing.

Your ideas just seem way off track man .. really now ..


Yes, again, these aren't my personal beliefs. Just trying to see if anyone was able to answer the question why suffering is bad and cessation of suffering is good beyond the fact that suffering is suffering and suffering is bad. This came to mind recently when thinking back to a dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh I attended. He described an American soldier in Viet nam who, after witnessing his entire squad die, went back to the village and put out sandwiches containing chemicals and watched children eat them and die. Upon his return he suffered extreme PTSD. He asked Thay what he could do. Thay responded that everyday there are far more children dieing in the world than the one he killed. The man then started a charity for children.

It seems that suffering, both his own and that of others, acted as a catalyst for compassion and cessation of suffering. Again, I’m not claiming that suffering is “some beautiful and wonderful thing” but instead investigating why/how, through our discriminating thinking, did suffering become conceptualized as bad and to be moved away from and cessation of suffering as good and to be moved towards beyond the fact that that is how we are naturally neurologically wired. I question this simply in light of the other truths of emptiness and non-duality.

Anyways, thank you all for engaging in this thought experiment with me. Love you all!

Lotwell
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby MrDistracted » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:11 pm

We could go round in circles with this thread.

The bottom line is that for Buddhist practice to really work, you have to see and experience suffering to whatever degree it takes for you to be moved on a visceral level to free yourself and others from it. So really it's a waste of time trying to convince you by conducting a 'thought experiment' on a forum; you need to go out and see and feel enough of it for you to not need to ask your original question. You really won't have to look far if you just come out of your head and into your heart.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby lotwell » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:37 am

yes that's true. this thread is circulus in probando.

actually its just the opposite mr. distracted. i've already been practing living compassion in the face of suffering but wanted to understand it intellectually within the context of buddhist philosophy.

i found a good answer to this question on the third installment of bob thurman's podcasts. i recommend checking it out if this topic in engaged buddhism is of interest to you forumers out there.

anyways thank you and deep bows,

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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby MrDistracted » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:35 am

lotwell wrote:yes that's true. this thread is circulus in probando.

actually its just the opposite mr. distracted. i've already been practing living compassion in the face of suffering but wanted to understand it intellectually within the context of buddhist philosophy.



lotwell


Then I apologise for jumping to conclusions too soon.


If the truth be told, my blood pressure has been aggravated by hearing elsewhere a bit of new agey fluff about the 'purpose', and the 'gift' of suffering. As if there is a kind of cosmic training scheme going on and suffering is one of the lessons generously given to us. I find this kind of attitude patronising and self indulgent, as it's usually promoted by people who seem to be very comfortable and seem to thrive on other people's issues and dramas. Perhaps that coloured my response to you. I'm sorry for that.

So yes, a slap on the wrist for me and an apology to you.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:12 pm

MrDistracted wrote:You really won't have to look far if you just come out of your head and into your heart.
:twothumbsup:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
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: Why end suffering?

Postby lotwell » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:10 am

MrDistracted wrote:Then I apologise for jumping to conclusions too soon.


If the truth be told, my blood pressure has been aggravated by hearing elsewhere a bit of new agey fluff about the 'purpose', and the 'gift' of suffering. As if there is a kind of cosmic training scheme going on and suffering is one of the lessons generously given to us. I find this kind of attitude patronising and self indulgent, as it's usually promoted by people who seem to be very comfortable and seem to thrive on other people's issues and dramas. Perhaps that coloured my response to you. I'm sorry for that.

So yes, a slap on the wrist for me and an apology to you.


Please, there is absolutely no reason to apologize. i appreciate your attention on this topic and yes, I am with you on this one. It is important to prevent the dharma from becoming watered down and disintegrated by the new age. I can see both sides on this issue though. Viewing our own suffering as material to work with can be quite a transformative part of the practice. However, there is the extreme you mention about becoming delusional about one's and other's suffering. Thich Nhat Hanh, probably the leader of engaged Buddhism, has said that he would not want to live in a world without suffering. And that the Pure Land, which is accessable here and now, contains suffering as well as true happiness. It is this sort of teaching that this question thread addresses.

Thanks

Lotwell
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby MrDistracted » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:57 am

I suspect we've got a bit of semantic funk going down here aswell, as far as how we define 'suffering'...

I've been taking it to mean being any state other than complete enlightenment. Given that complete enlightenment is our true nature; suffering is pointless. It is the product of the dualistic mind which is itself ignorance and is uneccessary.

But on the path to that state, of course, since we experience suffering we can employ this experience in various ways upon the path. The path which leads to the cessation of suffering.
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Nosta » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:02 pm

Why end suffering?

Life is fun, today i am okay with my girl, tomorrow i may be cheated and get sad but thats part of life and later i will find someone even more great...thats the kind of theory behind "why end suffering"?

Well, sometimes some of us may have such great life or a strong spirit to fight suffering, but we are not all equal! SUFFERING IS A #$@$&!!! The picture with the little african boy starving to death shows that very well.


May all suffering cease!
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:53 am

If you are suffering, you want to end suffering. If you don't suffer, there is nothing to end.
Do you suffer then?
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Why end suffering?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:02 pm

lotwell wrote:Based on the assumption that the end of all suffering is the ultimate goal of the bodhisattva's path, why end suffering?
Because it's the ultimate goal of the bodhisattva's path? ie You answered your own question?
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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: Why end suffering?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:23 pm

The only need for compassion is that there is suffering. If suffering ends, compassion becomes obsolete.
Compassion is the feeling that makes you want that someone or everyone is free from suffering and filled with happiness. If everyone was free from suffering and enjoyed happiness, there would be no reason to feel compassion. The fact that there are reasons for us to feel compassion is saddening. It means there is suffering still.
Great and deep compassion doesn't aim the relief of suffering only through mundane means. These may be a stepping stone, as it's easy to understand that it's hard to reach enlightenment if we're starving to death. Nevertheless, it's through the greatest gift of Dharma that compassion shines brightest, because this is what will allow definitive and perennial benefit to be achieved by those suffering.

Suffering is not necessarily a good teacher. Otherwise beings living hellish experiences would become Buddhas really fast and such is not the case. Suffering can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Pain is much easier to overcome than suffering. Sometimes pain is even used to diminish extreme suffering (self mutilation being a case many times). In these cases, people use pain to remove their attention from constant suffering.

Things are complicated in samsara. In Christian societies a miserabilist trend developed that lead people to see suffering as a virtue of sorts. That we can endure suffering for the sake of others may be a virtue. It's called sacrificing ourselves. If we could attain the same goals without suffering, even better. Suffering by itself is something we should all get rid of. When there's suffering, something is wrong. Always. With us or with others.
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