"This, monks, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unloved is suffering, separation from the loved is suffering, not getting what one wants is suffering, in brief the five aggregates of grasping are suffering." Well I guess to out it in one word "life" or "living" is suffering since any specific instance of life will be included under one of the descriptive factors in the list.
Funny to find myself in this situation. Here I am, the one usually being told that I am not reading what's there, but am reading into the words, now in the position of pointing out to you that the Buddha doesn't say "life is suffering" -- you are reading into a series of words, and interpreting them the way you prefer. I prefer to take him fairly literally -- that it is in these aspects of life that we find suffering. I would suggest that he lists them because this is what he means -- we should take him at his word. If he had meant "life is suffering" he sure could have said it.
"to exercise restraining or directing influence over" (Merriam Webster dictionary)
Yes, I am aware of what the word means, I want you to define what it means in the context of your view.
But that says it as well as I could. We were speaking about actions that are within our control -- so this would be actions that we can exercise restraint over and have a directing influence over.
(3) But the actions we take are those we can observe, that are within our control if we are but educated to understand the issues (thereby ending ignorance), and the consequences of those actions are those we can see for ourselves quite clearly -- within this very lifetime.
...if we are but educated to understand the issues (thereby ending ignorance), and the consequences of those actions...
I'll take it you are talking about wholesome vs unwholesome actions here.
Actually I'm talking about the end of wholesome and unwholesome (ala MN 78).
As long as there is ignorance there will be wholesome and unwholesome actions (karma)
Yes, this is true. And is that what the Buddha has us aiming for? a continuation of wholesome and unwholesome actions? Or is he teaching us the way to end these?
Until you are enlightened you cannot end karma, BUT by engaging in wholesome activities (Noble Eightfold Path) you will set up future causes and conditions conducive to practice and subsequent enlightenment.
This conversation has gone full circle from me saying that the ending portion of DO is about how actions result in consequences, and only understanding what's going on ends ignorance, to you saying the same thing in reverse -- the end of ignorance brings the end of those problematic actions. We seem, pretty much, in agreement on that reading of DO.
When you point out in today's post that wholesome activities are conditions that lead to enlightenment, I agree with you on that point also -- but the difference this brings up is that it seems to me the emphasis here is so much on wholesome activities that the important aspects of the Buddha's teachings on how to *end* wholesome activities gets shuffled into the background.
As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread, ethics aren't the whole of Buddhism. They are wholesome things, true. But *anyone* can do wholesome -- any system of ethics can, anyway. But an ethical system -- even with meditation and mindfulness thrown in -- isn't Buddhism, is it?
Wholesome is just a starting place -- it's not what Buddhism is *about* -- its a great beginning place, sets up an environment in which learning can take place, and provides the tools for that learning. But the essence of what needs to be learned and understood is in those four seals (or three marks of existence if you want to look at it from the Theravadan view). Why is the emphasis more on wholesome behavior than it is on the deeper teachings, I wonder? Is it because we're mostly trying to aim the conversation at people with perceive as "beginners"? The ones who most need the rudiments of morality drilled into them? and to be encouraged to set up an environment in which they can have a stable practice? That would be a really good reason for focus on adopting wholesome behavior over unwholesome.
Or might it have more to do with the idea that it takes *many* lifetimes to reach enlightenment, so pretty much *everyone* is a beginner for the whole of their lives? This life and the next and the next and the next -- beginners through the ages? And since we assume that everyone is a beginner for a long, long time, we talk mostly about the early basics, and don't focus much on the parts we *really* need to understand to get off that track?
Ah, now this is what's interesting. You are positing a continuation of some aspect of the present existence into the future.
Nope, the metaphor generally used is lighting a candle from the flame of another candle, continuation? Yes, Of something? Yes. Of what?
It doesn't matter "what". The metaphor of the flame is positing a what. It doesn't matter if you call it "something" or "nothing" or "the unknowable" or "a process" or "energy" or "heat" or "flame" or "it's a mystery" or just describe it with a metaphor. Being unable to name it doesn't make it any more real or excuse it being unverifiable. Something is being posited and it goes from the temporary conditions of this life, past death, into the aggregates of some future existence. You could even say "it's the karma that goes from this life to the next". Whatever you want to call it, it transcends death, and you're back to having something identified with my present existence that goes to some future existence.
You can't tell me how that future existence gets to be the one that gets the karma generated in this existence -- it's just dumb, random luck, isn't it? Or is there some other connection besides random dumb luck that assigns the karma generated by *this* collection of aggregates to *that* collection of aggregates? (In case you've forgotten, that was a point I made a long time ago when you were saying that without karma, the conditions we have in this life are perhaps just luck or some other thing you couldn't waste time suggesting.) Either there is something that ties this heap's existence to that heap's existence, or it's just random, in which case karma is no different than the materialist's description of why I have celiac disease.
Cognitive dissonance requires the unnamed mystery. It is not consistent to say there is no "me" but "my karma" should be a concern because otherwise in the future "I" will suffer -- and the only way to solve the problem is to provide a mysterious "not me" to do the job. Putting a mystery there patches the problem but doesn't actually solve it. But cognitive dissonance probably won't let you see this. Unfortunately, it also prevents seeing the way adopting the mystery undermines the deepest of the Buddha's teachings about how adopting views of things for which we have no good evidence harms our progress on the path.
Tell you what: when my paper comes out (mid-May, I think) I will be doing a series of posts on DO on the Secular Buddhist Association
. I just pulled up my copy of the posts and the word "karma" doesn't appear in them even once. Keep an eye out (you know you want to -- hah!) I'm sure you'll find it entertaining.
I am sure I will find it boring and irrelevant and most probably won't read it, I base this prediction on the synoptic insight into your theory over the past 6-7 pages of discussion.
I arrived at the same prediction based on a somewhat different set of observations.