Alleviation of suffering now

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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gloriasteinem
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Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:12 pm

Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

I was thinking these days including after watching Zizek that Buddhism talks about removing suffering but after a time, usually after rebirth, including in cruel forms of denoting specific extraordinary suffering to women that should dream to be reborn males. I see no wisdom in this, especially, as in Christianity at least it is understood that each gender has its own toils and they are rather looked equal, in Buddhism we see any kind of dharini, prayers and aspirations of turning women into men as a sort of necessity, and please don't tell me it is supposed about women in specific mostly muslim society were they are not free and very much suffering. These prayers are aimed at Buddhist women themselves mainly as texts obviously show. As I said before in these forums rarely women want to be men except in some radical lesbian and transgender cases. To me this a point about the absurdity of future life alleviation of suffering. Yet, of course such redemption is needed for those dying or terminally ill who obviously cannot seek happiness or non suffering in this very life. Or those who are imprisoned for life for example. Yet such cases are rather small among human population which suffer mainly from suffering that is possible to be removed or alleviated in this very lifetime. Maybe not at the level of Nirvana but still. And I want to point out that suffering mostly comes from within oneself, its in the mind and emotions, not so much physically as in the cases of the very old and dying, terminally ill, or suffering serious trauma. Even in these cases we can easily argue that it is the mind with its unhealthy and unrighteous thoughts that create the karma of illness. But Buddhism unlike psychoanalysis does not aim at removing mind suffering now, it does not explain it, it gives some directions on the healthy mind though. Still psychoanalysis has too dirty explanations of many things and try to turn all into sex drives, while not every suffering of the mind comes from prohibited or imperative desire and enjoyment (the imperative of enjoyment that at the same time becomes impossible is a problem of the postmodern era). In fact most of the suffering in humans to me comes from the experience life experience in adults that is not coherent, not meaningful, is hurtful emotionally, not self explainable for the person and he/she cannot overcome the pain of it but rather gathers like in vessel more and more painful life experience. These are all kind of disappointments, failures and mistakes and thus they do not come from the environment or even karma, but from the lack of peace of the creature with its own history.

People usually say that children are clean, with pure hearts, even Jesus said the heaven is theirs,but we don't say and can tell what is it about children? It is not true that all children are born pure hearted, some are born very mean, but to most children they don't have these disappointments from life, and their own decisions or abilities that are yet not challenged and thus they look with eyes without disappointment and are more open minded and trustful, loving themselves and others, etc. So if there is something one suffers now it is usually an actual accumulation of prior suffering, it is not about conditions now but also of what have been. And in such case how one having such experience could feel suddenly better by a mere promise of a future better life? Would it be not so much that this life would be better but that he would inevitably forget of his previous life and its disappointments. Because the new birth eradicates prior memories. Being reborn you forget everything from before. It is actually nature's mechanism of alleviating suffering. It is forgotten, those painful experiences and disappointments. Because do thee person suffer more of poverty itself or by the self blame of being unable to overcome it, or do you suffer more for not having a love one or by the blaming you're self for not having one.

Plus all of the promises for a better lifetime in some future life looks like aiming at stabilising some status quo that seems like should not be questioned or aimed of improving. Be it with the position of women, it sounds like an acceptance of their situation and redemption only in change of gender, or about nation, if you are born in a bad one you should simply pray to be born next time in a good one, everything else seems too revolutionary almost like the communist Zizek because it aims the change of the status quo that is of course the only way of removing suffering now. Yet Buddha himself questioned in revolutionary way the cast system of Indian society.

However my main point is that most of the suffering comes from bad experiences that also made possible of bad choices or I'd say bad contemplations, it is the incoherent, sad, depressive understanding of the own history or life, the feeling of disappointment and resentment that causes suffering and also bad dispositions. People become rude because of disappointments, mean, etc., alienated, not able of loving truely.
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muni
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by muni »

gloriasteinem wrote:I was thinking these days including after watching Zizek that Buddhism talks about removing suffering but after a time, usually after rebirth, including in cruel forms of denoting specific extraordinary suffering to women that should dream to be reborn males. I see no wisdom in this, especially, as in Christianity at least it is understood that each gender has its own toils and they are rather looked equal, in Buddhism we see any kind of dharini, prayers and aspirations of turning women into men as a sort of necessity, and please don't tell me it is supposed about women in specific mostly muslim society were they are not free and very much suffering. These prayers are aimed at Buddhist women themselves mainly as texts obviously show. As I said before in these forums rarely women want to be men except in some radical lesbian and transgender cases. To me this a point about the absurdity of future life alleviation of suffering. Yet, of course such redemption is needed for those dying or terminally ill who obviously cannot seek happiness or non suffering in this very life. Or those who are imprisoned for life for example. Yet such cases are rather small among human population which suffer mainly from suffering that is possible to be removed or alleviated in this very lifetime. Maybe not at the level of Nirvana but still. And I want to point out that suffering mostly comes from within oneself, its in the mind and emotions, not so much physically as in the cases of the very old and dying, terminally ill, or suffering serious trauma. Even in these cases we can easily argue that it is the mind with its unhealthy and unrighteous thoughts that create the karma of illness. But Buddhism unlike psychoanalysis does not aim at removing mind suffering now, it does not explain it, it gives some directions on the healthy mind though. Still psychoanalysis has too dirty explanations of many things and try to turn all into sex drives, while not every suffering of the mind comes from prohibited or imperative desire and enjoyment (the imperative of enjoyment that at the same time becomes impossible is a problem of the postmodern era). In fact most of the suffering in humans to me comes from the experience life experience in adults that is not coherent, not meaningful, is hurtful emotionally, not self explainable for the person and he/she cannot overcome the pain of it but rather gathers like in vessel more and more painful life experience. These are all kind of disappointments, failures and mistakes and thus they do not come from the environment or even karma, but from the lack of peace of the creature with its own history.

People usually say that children are clean, with pure hearts, even Jesus said the heaven is theirs,but we don't say and can tell what is it about children? It is not true that all children are born pure hearted, some are born very mean, but to most children they don't have these disappointments from life, and their own decisions or abilities that are yet not challenged and thus they look with eyes without disappointment and are more open minded and trustful, loving themselves and others, etc. So if there is something one suffers now it is usually an actual accumulation of prior suffering, it is not about conditions now but also of what have been. And in such case how one having such experience could feel suddenly better by a mere promise of a future better life? Would it be not so much that this life would be better but that he would inevitably forget of his previous life and its disappointments. Because the new birth eradicates prior memories. Being reborn you forget everything from before. It is actually nature's mechanism of alleviating suffering. It is forgotten, those painful experiences and disappointments. Because do thee person suffer more of poverty itself or by the self blame of being unable to overcome it, or do you suffer more for not having a love one or by the blaming you're self for not having one.

Plus all of the promises for a better lifetime in some future life looks like aiming at stabilising some status quo that seems like should not be questioned or aimed of improving. Be it with the position of women, it sounds like an acceptance of their situation and redemption only in change of gender, or about nation, if you are born in a bad one you should simply pray to be born next time in a good one, everything else seems too revolutionary almost like the communist Zizek because it aims the change of the status quo that is of course the only way of removing suffering now. Yet Buddha himself questioned in revolutionary way the cast system of Indian society.

However my main point is that most of the suffering comes from bad experiences that also made possible of bad choices or I'd say bad contemplations, it is the incoherent, sad, depressive understanding of the own history or life, the feeling of disappointment and resentment that causes suffering and also bad dispositions. People become rude because of disappointments, mean, etc., alienated, not able of loving truely.
:namaste: Gloria,

In fact the only use of Buddhism should be to alleviate suffering and therefore it should be pretty practice directed. Without, it doesn't reduce suffering. Practices are to reveal how there is no view, no division at all. Only then impartial care/love and skilful help can be. Only when we recognize own suffering and know how to decrease/fade it, we can be 'a helpful hand' to alleviate suffering. We can read the Four Noble Truths, but just that is not helping.
Nature has no gender, no culture, no nationality, no high, no low, just no any division at all. These are no other than apprehended habits/costumes which we believe to be true or which are phenomena we accept to be true/real.

Like when we see phenomena/tool Dharma as truth itself, we are staring to the pointing finger, filling our whole life by investigation in the finger. This does not alleviate suffering.

The word children can be metaphorical as well, or we can say "open unwritten mind", as in Zen "an empty cup" to be suitable vessel to receive liberating guidance.

Shantideva, as a daily reminder:
http://www.khandro.net/bud_shantideva.htm
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
gloriasteinem
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Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

muni wrote:
:namaste: Gloria,

In fact the only use of Buddhism should be to alleviate suffering and therefore it should be pretty practice directed. Without, it doesn't reduce suffering. Practices are to reveal how there is no view, no division at all. Only then impartial care/love and skilful help can be. Only when we recognize own suffering and know how to decrease/fade it, we can be 'a helpful hand' to alleviate suffering. We can read the Four Noble Truths, but just that is not helping.
Nature has no gender, no culture, no nationality, no high, no low, just no any division at all. These are no other than apprehended habits/costumes which we believe to be true or which are phenomena we accept to be true/real.

Like when we see phenomena/tool Dharma as truth itself, we are staring to the pointing finger, filling our whole life by investigation in the finger. This does not alleviate suffering.

The word children can be metaphorical as well, or we can say "open unwritten mind", as in Zen "an empty cup" to be suitable vessel to receive liberating guidance.

Shantideva, as a daily reminder:
http://www.khandro.net/bud_shantideva.htm
I don't think so. You say, only who knows how to alleviate own suffering knows how to alleviate others suffering. This is not true. It would be hard to prove it since almost no one gets into selfless acts of alleviating others suffering at all outside of own family and friends. And even a few do this for their friends. My (ex)boyfriend would not have any clue how to reduce own suffering yet all they way he was and still is alleviating others people suffering with offering money, food, repairs, relationship helps, etc., all the things that he neither have not could even understand that he needs in a way that their lack cause him to suffer. I would lie if I say he is not suffering, indeed he is a lot. And yes, he does not know the source of his own suffering maybe because he thinks only how to remove others. But your point is not right, not at all.

Second, how does exactly the practice alleviates suffering? Please give me straight examples as whether in practice Buddhists offer money, food, shelter, etc. As a daily practice. They don't. Most people don't anyway. In fact Buddhism rarely advises so. In Christianity, in Gospels there is much more advices to practice charity BUT ONLY when directed towards the church. Still, only a few are the lines in Buddhism where helping others with medication or food is adviced by Buddha himself. And I haven't heard about Buddhist charities honestly, Buddhists work on their mindfulness, they think like you, that they will somehow remove suffering.... one day, after first they had removed their own with Nirvana and secured their own happiness in Pure Land, only then perhaps they might think to alleviate others suffering. Since it is unreachable goal in one lifetime, helping others almost never happens with few exceptions. In fact working on the own happiness first and than possibly thinking maybe of helping others to some extend is not a Buddhist but very mundane thing everyone does. Plus, because most probably you haven't indulged into helping others you wouldn't know sometimes they would exploit this to the extend of causing you suffering, that in fact is very common.

Also nature does have gender, hierarchies, clans, cultures, and countries that differ significantly, despite what you think, and its good to an extend that we have them. Although some cultures could be very unpleasant, non developed like the aborigines, etc. These 'apprehended habits' consists of our life experience and is not illusional phenomena, because you come to know thing and truth via your valuable experience otherwise you wouldn't be born at all.
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muni
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by muni »

:namaste: Gloria,

One can only help when one knows how to alleviate own suffering means we can only help when we are awaken and know the methods how to erase the source or root of suffering and guide others to help them out. A dreamer cannot awaken another.

But what you say that Buddhists do nothing at all to help others, I actually don’t know. What we do is our own daily practice and I feel no need to point my finger to anyone when he or she is not able due to whatever it can be to show for example generosity or just by kindness give a hand to a suffering one. This kind of help is not in the domain of merely those who consider themselves to be Buddhists, it is just inter-care among all beings. We can see that as well by animals. Some are very compassionate, others are rude. But I don’t know whether they have a religion. :smile:

It is not because one considers him-herself to be Buddhists or Christian or Jain, they become a goodhearted helpful one, this is so for each religion. Basically they all have their methods to show compassion, to show love, to care, but this depends on the one who consider him-herself to be a follower of that religion. You can misuse a religion, you can help or do nothing, whatever, it depends completely on ourselves, on our practices, not at all on the religion. So I blame no any of them.

But those who are awaken will always as primordial goodness, help to awaken others, to erase the root of suffering. That can look like doing nothing, but it is in fact the greatest Compassion and greatest help which can be given.

Those blessed ones who help completely altruistically are an example for us, but it is up to each of us to consider to follow in their footsteps as far as our possibilities allows that. And sometimes we are not able to help at all. We cannot help all beings, this is impossible. If we can bring a smile, a small light into the day of a suffering one, even we are ourselves in poor condition, we can see how this benefits even ourselves.

Clinging to emptiness is dangerous and not Buddhism, since we must feed the dogs, we must give the child its’ medicine. We give that smile to the lonely one, give a helping hand.

Even Buddhism is a variety of teaching/guiding methods to awaken in order to be able to help others awaken, warm heart can never be underestimated and is automatically included. I do not judge anyone since for me lacking kindness is no fun, not far the one who never receives it, as for the one who never gives it. If we cannot help, worry will neither help, we can at least try to not harm.
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
gloriasteinem
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

No, I don't agree with that. You say that one has to be awaken to help others, I say this is ontological mistake in Buddhism that most Buddhists like to make out of pure egotism. Almost every human and even animal is aware what causes suffering and how it is removed asap. I am talking about hunger, loneliness, cold, , and they can seek for themselves or provide alleviation. The same is with sickness, animals know when they are sick, sneezing of cold and that when are given warmth they get cured. These are the cores of suffering, and too having money or giving money can improve almost everything from health to relationship status. You don't need to be awaken to know that because every body knows that. Of course there are sophisticated types of suffering as digestion illnesses and you might need a doctor who is educated or even better partially enlightened guru to improve your energetic channels but even then it may not be very helpful if you still don't have money, good shelter, etc. Because most conditions except AIDS perhaps are caused of bad life conditions, bad food, etc. The enlightened help helps only in rare very sophisticated situations as when people get so unclearly why sick that only perhaps God knows what's wrong.In any other case anyone can help but perhaps almost no one would like to. Of course there are specialists in help like when you need some kind of repair but this is help based on knowledge and experience not exactly enlightment. And these are paid, you don't ask Buddha to repair your electricity circuit failure yet without electricity you would very much suffer.

You say a dreamer cannot waken you from a dream. If you think every dream is suffering I think you are wrong. This is why Buddhist pray to have better rebirth, ie better dream next life. Plus a kind of dream can lead you to healthy awakening so obviously its not all the same what kind of "dreamy" life you have. Plus bodhisattvas actually can postpone their full enlightening in order to make people "awaken" and enlightened, in such way obviously its clear you don't need to be Buddha to help others, you might simply need to wish and try to help others.

About religion being regardless to ones good or bad heart. I wouldn't say so. Animals who get close to monks or practicing meditation Buddhist may develop a good heart just like animals being pets to selfish people become selfish. It is not so obscure whether animals have religion, they don't in a way they cannot read scriptures yet they can feel and understand both religious practice, emanation, and deeds. And they can develop habits too or let's say a character based on that. It is communication and habit within society and social groups that determines practice and behaviour in both humans and animals and it is very much related to educated behaviour too that is related to one type of religion or the lack of religious devotion too.

About making one smile. It is a common shared belief among western Buddhists including in my country that somehow being simply a practicing Buddhist or kind could bring smile by itself. Even they get offended if this doesn't exactly happen so and blame the poor if it wouldn't work this way. I say you cannot make a hungry animal smile or look happy no matter how kind you try to be with it. Of course its better to be kind than kick it out perhaps as people can do but yet its a delusion you are making a change. You simply don't harm it this way. But remind you, Buddha in one of his previous lives as a bodhisattva offered himself as a food for a hungry tigress, so no, simply smiling doesn't help.
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gloriasteinem
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

Also smiling at your neighbour early in the morning before you go to work, having to know you are economically equal and he is mostly fine could make his day better, he needs nothing more from you than kindness but smiling at an unemployed poor on the street who is begging for money may look like you're laughing at him, its definitely not the same gesture especially if you don't offer help. And in the end let's not forget the enlightened Buddha who despite being enlightened needed offerings of food. Do you think Buddha or any Buddha/bodhisattva needs your enlightened help, maybe not. Ok,maybe if it is enlightened it would be better but still the prerequisite of "first being enlightened and later help" is wrong, in fact the very path to enlightment is made with helping and serving others not only in enlightened way
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by 明安 Myoan »

This just underscores the need to develop wisdom as well as compassion, otherwise it's often misguided and even unhelpful, just as you say, Gloria.
I too find it strange to say we have to become enlightened before we can begin to help others, but I'm hopeful this isn't what people who delve deeply into practice truly think.

If we take to heart the line from the Metta Sutta "Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings" then we naturally find countless little and big ways to help all creatures, people, and beings in our actual lives as they are right now.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the Nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
Malcolm
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by Malcolm »

Suffering is a result, it cannot be removed. However, it can be prevented.
muni
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by muni »

I too find it strange to say we have to become enlightened before we can begin to help others
It is, this is strange. We can help in so many ways, open our heart, so to speak. It is the path of the bodhisattva. Teaching guide through conventional to absolute bodhichitta.

The course of our suffering is the believe in/clinging to ego/independent self. Awaken/Buddha is realization by which this ego isn't. Awaken Nature knows how mind works, how to guide to recognize what is not ego.

Okay, I see alleviation is relieve, not uproot it. Oops!
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
muni
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by muni »

Second, how does exactly the practice alleviates suffering?
HH Dalai Lama once met people who took care of blind fellows. He humbly said: “ They are bodhisattvas, I just talk about.”
Longchenpa went on to explain that the aspirational bodhichitta is actually based on the Four Immeasurables: (1) Immeasurable Love, (2) Immeasurable Compassion, (3) Immeasurable Joy, and (4) Immeasurable Equanimity.

Because sentient beings are as limitless as space, our practice of these four virtues must also be immeasurable. We can begin developing these in our heart by chanting aspirational prayers such as, “May all beings be happy, may the causes of their suffering be removed, may they always be joyful, and may they all remain in a state of equanimity.”

The aspirational bodhichitta is mainly applied at the levels of mind and speech. Through practice, it becomes the cause of the actualized bodhichitta. Once we accomplish this, we can perform actions with the confidence arising from our intention to benefit others.
http://www.padmasambhava.org/morning/te ... asure.html

"Rahula, practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.
Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.
Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success.
Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.
I call these the four immeasurables. Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others."
http://viewonbuddhism.org/immeasurables ... icing.html
The "course" of our suffering
The cause of our suffering.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Way-Bodhisatt ... 1590303881 With foreword by HH Dalai Lama.
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
gloriasteinem
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

:} You will actually see me now eating my own words or at least some incorrect part of it. Ok, I still think suffering needs help possibly currently, not postponed, but I have to correct myself :

We sometimes need the help of Buddha, God, saints, and whoever we pray above in most improbable situations and we receive help sometimes by not even knowing.Perhaps we may have idea how to improve things but still help comes from above because we also need it.
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gloriasteinem
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Re: Alleviation of suffering now

Post by gloriasteinem »

When religion and philosophy of religion does not elaborate on suffering... Who does it? Psychiatry. Cultural Suffering book is an example of it. The author there says that media involvement and political concerns of poverty, war and political disturbances are nothing else... but a "moral sentiment". Its a colonial gesture, a misunderstanding that all should be sedated after all, from the starving, those afraid of the war and repressed, to journalists themselves, and in the end the anxious society that preoccupies with things that are "culturally apparent", its not exactly suffering of those in Africa or other deprived regions, its a cultural phenomena, nothing bad at all, only the moral sentiment is bad because it causes worries and anxiety. Its only suffering though when his wife is sick of Alzheimer and needs care, his and her suffering that we need to hear about in his lectures, regardless of our cultural and geographical context. For somehow his suffering should be meaningful to us, maybe because he is a civilized psychiatrist who has the ability to lecture of his own suffering in Harvard unlike those in Africa perhaps. Its interesting how psychiatry in the West and USSR (not China) wants to strip the suffering from the physical or the political, its the mind, you know, that needs sedatives.

Arthur Kleinman has a thing or so to say about it.

Its interesting how psychoanalysis and psychiatry too after Freud is trying to demoralize patients to"remove" suffering and is obviously against practices in China that on contrary tries to moralize to remove suffering. This type of immortalization Kleinman and his followers call "searching for inner causes and an insight into psychological phenomena". They feel looking to solve things into family and community first, as they do in China, when suffering occurs, a mistake that should be abandoned. Thus obviously trying to colonialise the rest of the world with western cultural "thought" and so called insight while criticising moral sentiments.

They also like to claim there is no physical reason for illnesses that turn into inner suffering of the soul, its not cold, hunger, poverty, society, or your bed orientation towards the light that makes you uncomfortable to the level you feel innerly worried, its not that your hungry, it is some childhood trauma perhaps, or DNS predisposition to depression, that's very insightful indeed. If you look in the book you will see that it starts with a picture of super starving child and a story about its story that ends up in ideas about this is cultaral phenomenon that is by no means worse than not having your favourite coffee in the morning, in a culturally relevant and postmodern way.

This author Arthur Kleinman is obviously very prominent and has not suffered any criticism at all. And he criticises creativity and efforts in others in ending the physical suffering, the causes itself of inner suffering while unfortunately he is lacking skillful means
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