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TOPIC: What is the point of life-and-death?

What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 15:32 #6072

Do you feel that this question can be resolved through practice? If so, do you think it is resolved in a similar way for every person? How is it resolved?

I ask because recently I have been troubled by nihilism, that is, the sense that there is no point to living, so why bother? This comes from the sense that any meaning I derive from living dies with me, that is, only if meaning is ultimately assigned by the human mind. I guess I look for a more universal meaning that encompasses everyone and everything and that is not so homocentric. But "proof" of that feels scant, if non-existent.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 15:34 #6073

This is what I wrote about it a few months ago when a friend asked a similar question:

http://alittledeathblog.com/2011/12/18/pointlessness/
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What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 15:46 #6074

Jake2, this is a very interesting question.

I find that the fluidity of meaning usually leads to despair only if it freezes around the idea of meaninglessness. Said another way, "meaningless" is yet another meaning one ascribes to experience; NOT the logical conclusion of the reality of fluid meaning.

Meaninglessness isn't ultimately true. It is yet another story superimposed on THIS.

Said yet another way, the fact that meaning is not absolute does not necessarily mean that meaninglessness is absolute. There's a duality implicit in this logic; that is, until it is cracked through wisdom.

This is a terrific example of how rational deduction is not a sufficient vehicle for awakening.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 15:59 #6075

Nice answer, too, Jackson.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 17:13 #6076

Thanks to both of you. That is helpful.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 20 Mar 2012 20:01 #6077

"I ask because recently I have been troubled by nihilism, that is, the sense that there is no point to living, so why bother? This comes from the sense that any meaning I derive from living dies with me, that is, only if meaning is ultimately assigned by the human mind. I guess I look for a more universal meaning that encompasses everyone and everything and that is not so homocentric. But "proof" of that feels scant, if non-existent." -- Jake2

You do not need some higher authority or some eternal power to give your life meaning. Your life has meaning, it's just that you may actually get to assign it. I find this extremely liberating, frankly, because there are so many, many, many great things to adopt as my life's work: my wife, my kids, my co-workers, and every living human being. In the end, it's how I deal with all of those others that matters.

Spending your life taking life "meaning orders" from some higher power, some universal authority (whatever that is), or from a teacher or from some religion or another (man made, of course) strikes me as a huge waste of great meaning. But that's just me, I suppose.

I get the fact that this is all new and very, very different, but sheesh, it doesn't kill you, man.

I love life and I Iove being in it, right here, right now. I'll find meaning in every fraction of a second and I'm happy to find that meaning on my own.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 02:17 #6078

This is a great question-- maybe THE Great Question, a gateway to emptiness.

IF-- and it's a big 'if'-- you don't solidify the emptiness into 'the answer' and an excuse to dispense with your precious human life and practice. As Jackson pointed out so well, above. I think you really start practicing as an adult human being when you become interested enough in the questions to not grab desperately at the quickest answer that pops into your head. It's an amazingly short distance from 'What IS the meaning of life-and-death-- if it's not what I thought, what I was told? I really don't know anymore; I really wonder.' to 'Things really aren't as cut-and-dried as I thought; things are really more interesting-- and AMAZING!-- than I thought.'

Emptiness is not 'nothing', not despair [which is 'something,' anyway]. Emptiness is the openness from which ANYTHING can appear.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 02:32 #6079

Kate,

_/|\_

(I'm loving the text gassho lately... perhaps I'll call it a gasshocon)

Seriously, though. Great post.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 02:50 #6080


Kate,
_/|\_
(I'm loving the text gassho lately... perhaps I'll call it a gasshocon)
Seriously, though. Great post.


-awouldbehipster

and great coinage: gasshocon backatcha!
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 09:48 #6081


Emptiness is not 'nothing', not despair [which is 'something,' anyway]. Emptiness is the openness from which ANYTHING can appear.


-kategowen

Really important to emphasize, Kate. Nicely said.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 10:53 #6082

Words that are misleading when translated from Pali/Sanscrit to English:

- concentration

- energy

- emptiness
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 10:55 #6083

English words seldom used in western dharma circles but that should be (thanks to Jackson and Kate for this one):

- adult

- patience
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 11:09 #6084


English words seldom used in western dharma circles but that should be (thanks to Jackson and Kate for this one):
- adult
- patience


-cmarti

I'd add (a bit tongue in cheek):

-responsibility
-love
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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 11:21 #6085

Yes, I had those encased inside "adult"

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What is the point of life-and-death? 21 Mar 2012 13:30 #6086

Trust me, not assumed by many people!
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 00:50 #6087

Sunyata, would you be satisfied by a non-conceptual answer? Or, is there a subtle need for conceptual understanding?

One of my favorite quotes: Isn't it strange that we prefer the quicksand of somethingness to the firm ground of emptiness.

To me, beliefs can prevent us from entering into the mystery of life. Beliefs are static and dead; life is, well, alive and flowing.

jack
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 02:37 #6088

What would be a non-conceptual answer to you? Is there something that has already been related that you consider non-conceptual?

I am satisfied by the Truth. I suspect that transcends concepts.

I would like to formulate a conceptual understanding based on my accumulated experience as well as the experience of others.

I think you are right: beliefs can inhibit our engagement with the here and now. I don't think they have to though, as long as they are brought to conscious awareness.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 12:57 #6089

I have a question for you, Sunyata -- what is "Truth?" Where does it come from, and how is it divined?
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 13:24 #6090

Hmm, I don't think it comes from anywhere nor is it divined it anyway. It entails a direct apprehension of reality. Truth is realized through experience not comprehension.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 13:43 #6091

Well, in my case the idea that there is in any way "a" truth ultimately turned out to be a hindrance. I was clinging to the notion that there was some thing or place that would break the accelerating free fall that was frightening and uncomfortable.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 14:39 #6092

You know, this question "What is the point of life and death?" - has anyone ever at any time in their life imagined how exactly this might be answered? *Setting aside* any perspectives relating to awakening, think back to high school, college, whenever you might first have had this question. If an voice came in a dream and told you the answer, what on earth would it ideally have been? What did/do you want to hear?

Is there really an answer like: "The point is for you to go to grad school, marry that red-headed girl, move to Denver, wear blue jeans, and prefer country music, have four children, and then die of cancer at the age of 72." That would be practical at least. Would that kind of answer satisfy? (And again, just talking from regular human perspective, not dharma-teaching perspective.)

When I have had that question more or less, it seems like a way
of saying "I feel like crap and maybe if I changed something in my life I
would feel better, but I don't know what decisions to make and I wish
someone would tell me what to do."

Thoughts?
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 15:15 #6093

Ona, I have definitely wanted someone to tell me what to do before because I was confused. I still feel this sometimes too. I feel as though I am here for a purpose and look for a sign as to what that may be. I also feel that the more I sit, the more I attune myself to what my purpose is. I don't know if I will ever have such a breakthrough realization or not. In the meantime, I guess the best I can do is use my own judgement and what I know about myself in proceeding forward.

Also, my understanding of the point of life-and-death I think is a little more general and less prescribed. I feel as though I am here to learn particular lessons--one of which I think is to learn to be more emotionally grounded--and it is up to me to engage that lesson. I also feel that my "soul" has a long history during which I cultivated particular skills and a temperament that make me more inclined to pursue particular vocations or interests. Not that I can't pursue interests I have never had before, but I have already developed certain skills that appear as talents and inclinations in this lifetime that make the going easier and more natural in those fields. There is a greater probability that I will pass through a certain series of events in this lifetime, however there are also possible offshoots I could traverse that are a result of decisions I may make at key moments in my life. So, in my current view, this life is a mix of destiny and free will, however I have come across some work recently (re: Gary Weber via Ramana Maharshi and Sam Harris) that contends free will is an illusion and life is completely predestined. I do not have fully formed opinion on this yet.

My "final answer" to my question would be that the point is to reunite with the Source. The lessons we learn in these physical lives bring us closer to that.

At least that's the little philosophy to which I subscribe. I do find that it supports me in giving me a purpose to practice.

Chris, Yikes! I have not had that free fall feeling. I see what you are saying though. ANY conception of the Truth misses the mark, is fodder for attachment, and ultimately is a hindrance to progress.
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 17:03 #6094


Exactly. That is what I was trying to say.

jack
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 17:21 #6095

Jack, why do your posts always come out like you are quoting yourself, in the little box? What secrets of formatting do you have that we do not? ;)
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What is the point of life-and-death? 24 Mar 2012 22:11 #6096

Jake 2-- In concert with Ona, let me suggest some 'interesting' questions.

What if 'purpose' is a kind of conceptual 'transitional object' [like a child's special blankie]-- what if it is a shifting, subjective feeling of being on the right track or engaged in worthwhile activity; and has no 'objective correlative?'

What if it is something that is apparent in retrospect, and if going forward all you have is your best guess, your preference, your knowledge of what you will actually DO [as opposed to 'the right answer' according to texts or an expert], and the informed and sympathetic advice of qualified friends with at least some further experience than yourself-- and who actually KNOW you, over some time--?

What if philosophy and expectations and bowcoups of information are what's in your way? And what is required is-- if not being 'comfortable with uncertainty' as Pema puts it, having at least a little spark of daring, of 'what the hell?' Being DONE with samsara, with its successes and pleasures as well as its failures and pains?

What if Chris is right and what happens feels like 'free fall' to you, as it has to so many of the rest of us? [And that's the GOOD news: success at last!]

In the end, there's just one question-- are you game to go with no guarantees about where you'll fetch up, beyond it's being NOT what you expected, and NOT seeming like a brilliantly executed swan dive?

Shoot, for that matter, what if the questioning is pretty much the same as it was when you were little and it was a way to keep the adult in the room so you didn't have to fall asleep alone in the dark?

-- a ponder; I hope not TOO 'interesting.'
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