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TOPIC: The truth of dukkha

The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 14:18 #98590

D-- So what is 'extinguished' is the experience of samkhara-dukkha, not all experience globally? Makes sense.
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2015 14:18 by Kate Gowen. Reason: typo
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 15:12 #98591

Question:

Why do we refer back to 2,500 year old texts (which by the way were not written at the time the Buddha lived) to answer 21st century experiential questions? I'm curious, because it has always seemed to me that if we talk from our experience of these things we could drop the translation issues that plague Pali and Sanskrit. And we'd be speaking from our own experience, which is what matters in this arena, well, at least to me.
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 15:44 #98592

Maybe because the OP refers to the language and concepts of ancient texts? If we were having discussion in purely experiential terms, who among us would choose a Pali word that is never used in any other context? :lol:
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 15:46 #98593

To let you know how bad I am at this, I don't even know what "OP" stands for :S
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2015 15:46 by Chris Marti.
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 16:06 #98595

Dreamwalker's citation reminded me that Ken McLeod has a similar discussion in Wake Up to your Life on the third noble truth. The last paragraph of the section seems relevant, but the whole discussion of the four noble truths is good.

The last paragraph:
"Buddha Shakyamuni could say unequivocally that there is an end to suffering because he developed such a high level of attention, diamondlike attention, that he could rest in the mystery of being, the experience of not existing as a separate entity, with no fear and in complete clarity. At that level of attention, the experience of not existing as a separate entity is known for what it is and ceases to be a basis for fear and emotional reactivity. The key effort in the third noble truth is to come to this understanding ourselves. Suffering ends when we have sufficient ability in attention to be present in all experience -- even the experience of not being a separate entity."

So KMcL suggest that the third noble truth is realized within experience, and insight >into< experience, not through the absence of all experience. He comes from the Tibetan tradition, so that might be a factor.
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 16:07 #98596

Original Post

Discovering that there are online dictionaries of acronyms/internet abbreviations changed my life: LOL no longer means "little old lady;" and I don't have to plead with my hip nerd friends for translation. :P
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 16:17 #98597

I was worried "OP" meant "Old Person" and referred to me :ohmy:
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 17:33 #98598

Chris Marti wrote:
I'm curious, because it has always seemed to me that if we talk from our experience of these things we could drop the translation issues that plague Pali and Sanskrit. And we'd be speaking from our own experience, which is what matters in this arena, well, at least to me.
Well it seems to me that if you could get a room full of second pathers together they could straighten this right out....everything is so straight forward and simple....then someone lets in the third and fourthers and they start talking about about non-dual, what is done/undone, emptiness and other such topics and everyone is left scratching their heads wondering if there is such a thing as enlightenment in the first place. ;)
~D
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 17:36 #98599

Chris Marti wrote:
Question:

Why do we refer back to 2,500 year old texts (which by the way were not written at the time the Buddha lived) to answer 21st century experiential questions? I'm curious, because it has always seemed to me that if we talk from our experience of these things we could drop the translation issues that plague Pali and Sanskrit. And we'd be speaking from our own experience, which is what matters in this arena, well, at least to me.

AMEN Brother! Seriously, given that we're 'pragmatic', why is that even a question? :)

I love the nibbana=cessation postulate, indeed it simplifies everything. My working assumption is that I'm post SE (we'll see how things move along), so I feel I have just enough experience to weigh in.

Ken, I find your summary of the 8 fold path beautiful, and the conversation has been helpful. I feel a need to lay out my pragmatic summary.

8 fold path leads to nibbana, nibbana for the living is cessation. Cessation is a great sign of progress on the path but cessation is not a way to live.

However, along the 8 fold path towards cessation/SE, there are great things to be had, so great that they may trick us into believing that nibbana is the wide-awake and walking around experience. Given this pitfall, it's too bad that the good walking-around-stuff, which we should all hope for, is not called out at the top level.

I've experienced realizations that are a great relief. I've experienced heady bliss and equanimity on the cushion then off the cushion that was pretty awesome, such that it's tempting to say I'm pretty special, maybe in nibbana land but that's fading away.

This seems pretty simple to me.

Matt
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 18:03 #98600

Here is my pragmatic take on dukkha.
There are several subconscious selfing processes running all the time that create the identification of "Me".
  1. The five senses are "Mine"
  2. Thoughts and the mental echo of senses are "Mine"
  3. Boundaries in space are "Mine"
  4. Other multiple subtle naturally occurring stuff is "Mine"
Each time a selfing process is shut down at a path moment there is an elimination of "stress" that was inherently built into the process.
Its as if the fight or flight system stops monitoring unnecessarily this stuff as if it were needing to be protected at every moment.
I lean towards a psychological approach to awakening and this is definitely not a Buddhist take on things.
~D
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 18:42 #98601

Trying to keep things on track here:

If we can agree on our terms to this point, we can move on by clarifying what it might mean to walk around without suffering. Following is a list of questions. If you answer "no" to all of them, I will consider that you are claiming to be free from dukkha on a persistent basis.

1. Do you ever experience anger?
2. Do you ever experience irritation?
3. Do you ever experience boredom?
4. Do you ever experience craving?
5. Do you ever experience fear?
6. Do you ever experience despair?
7. Do you ever experience annoyance?
8. Do you ever experience angst?
9. Do you ever experience jealousy?
10. Do you ever experience envy?
11. Do you ever experience loneliness?
12. Do you ever experience hatred?

13. Do you ever express irritation?
14. Do you ever express anger?
15. Do you ever express defensiveness?
16. Do you ever express lust?

(This list could be much, much longer, but you get the idea; in order to claim freedom from dukkha on a persistent basis, you must assert that you never experience or express difficult emotions.)

If you yourself do not claim to be without suffering, but you have a champion you think might qualify, go through the list again and ask yourself how the person in question might answer. Pay careful attention to questions 13 through 16.

Let's discuss the results together as a way of making concrete the question of whether it is possible for a human being to walk around without dukkha. Note that momentary happiness and peace are commonplace and do not qualify. Let's clarify "persistent." If someone can answer "no" to all of the questions above and assert that this has been ongoing for 90 days without a lapse, let's consider them to have passed the first screen.

Kenneth Folk
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2015 18:43 by Chris Marti.
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 18:49 #98602

I cannot answer "no" to those questions. How about you?
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The truth of dukkha 28 Apr 2015 19:17 #98603

I cannot answer 'no' to these questions. Wouldn't expect to, as 'I am only an egg'. :) However, as I mentioned, it's tempting to sometimes. There are times when there are zero challenges facing me, where I'm coasting along on some new realizations or level of practice, where I've got zero beef with the world, zero feeling that anything has to change.

It reminds me of this very pragmatic aspect of being human. An example: I'm tasked with removing weeds from the back yard. There are a lot of weeds. I work hard, remove 98% of them. It seems to me, compared to the place I started, that there are no weeds, there might as well be no weed because it's so much better than it was before. But then my wife comes home from her 2 week trip, she looks at the back yard and sees a bunch of weeds here or there. OR, I relax after the pulling, take a break, after a while I start seeing the weeds.

This is what my practice seems to reveal about my experience of suffering.
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2015 22:01 by matthew sexton.
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The truth of dukkha 29 Apr 2015 00:52 #98604

Interesting and puzzling thread. To Kenneth's original statement ("As long as you draw breath, there is dukkha. It's not because you are doing it wrong.") my response is: Sure, and? The last part ("To misunderstand this is to misunderstand Buddhism.") doesn't concern me much. An outcome of my practice is that I don't care much about practice, and less about Buddhism or what the old guys in India meant. The pragmatic part of pragmatic dharma meant I never had to care much about that; the framing of contemplative *practice* as a technology for awakening absolves me from having to figure out Truth, Nibbana, or anything else that might be capitalized. Looking at Kenneth's list of negative emotions, I experience all of them (except perhaps for hatred because that's a strong one and I'm a mellow person). I always have and practice has not changed that. In fact, one of the significant benefits of meditation was in becoming *more* aware of the vast ever changing spectrum of emotional experience. That includes anger, irritation, anxiety, annoyance, boredom, but also joy, gratitude, humor, happiness. I love the Bill Hamilton quote, "suffering less, noticing it more".

While Thervada Buddhism is not more sacred to me than any other isms, I recognize and appreciate that the framework I've practiced within, thanks primarily to Kenneth and Daniel Ingram, was heavily based on the Mahasi tradition along with other influences and many unique contributions from the Kenneth and Daniel. I'm especially grateful for the progress of insight as a structure that takes you through the entire spectrum of experience including challenging parts. At this point though, I hardly think about it. I'm not interested in eliminating emotion, defining enlightenment, figuring out what the Buddha meant, thinking of my self as an awakened guy on some big journey. What have I become? :woohoo:

I'm still interested in experience, though. Joy, excitement, embarrassment, remembering, gratitude, smiling, amusement, loneliness, sadness, coolness, pressure, listening, gratitude, happiness, heaviness...
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The truth of dukkha 29 Apr 2015 09:12 #98608

I'm still interested in experience, though. Joy, excitement, embarrassment, remembering, gratitude, smiling, amusement, loneliness, sadness, coolness, pressure, listening, gratitude, happiness, heaviness...

And slappin' the bass ;)
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The truth of dukkha 29 Apr 2015 17:02 #98612

I was reminded of this movie quote:
Always like this
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 01:52 #98614

Eric wrote:
I was reminded of this movie quote:
Always like this

Wonderful! Thank you, Eric.
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 01:53 #98615

To the suffering:

You are not doing it wrong.

I love you.
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 08:25 #98620

Eric wrote:
I was reminded of this movie quote:
Always like this

I am reminded of this movie quote "The dude abides." from"The Great Lebowski.
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 09:05 #98622

Re: the "Leon: the Professional" quotation, for me, life has gotten progressively easier since I began practicing, despite continuing uncertainty and personal challenges. I am simply less moved by life's vagaries. Thus, it appears to me that life certainly is not "always this hard."
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 13:11 #98623

Jake Yeager wrote:
Re: the "Leon: the Professional" quotation, for me, life has gotten progressively easier since I began practicing, despite continuing uncertainty and personal challenges. I am simply less moved by life's vagaries. Thus, it appears to me that life certainly is not "always this hard."

"Three possibilities. Could get better. Could get worse. Could stay the same."

-Bill Hamilton

Bill always grinned when he said this, delighted at his own cleverness. Like so many of his one-liners, this turns out to be deadly accurate, and much deeper than it appears at first glance.
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 13:23 #98624

There are situations where the experience of suffering wouldn't be very vague - injury, illness, advanced age, death of loved ones, natural disaster, economic collapse, political oppression, war, famine, poverty.

I always thought the Buddha was saying that the Dukkha from these was 2nd arrow, meaning perhaps when we identify as a self having these experiences. When 1st arrow doesn't happen to a self, there may be pain but no added Dukkha.

And I hoped he was saying that the whole play of form might appear so dreamlike and empty that there could be equanimity, maybe even bemused or blissful equanimity, no matter what shape things took.

What I've found so far is that intense practice states can definitely transform the experience of life's vagaries, like anxiety can be suddenly and temporarily be transformed into bliss.

But less so in extreme situations like, say, a near & dear one seems to suddenly become schizophrenic, a drug addict and homeless and their life plunges into long-term intense suffering.

And the most difficult have been intense physical disruption that seems to impair my ability to even be aware at all, like neurological problems, migraines and blood sugar plunges from metabolic problems with regulating blood glucose levels. I can only imagine early onset Alzheimer, brain tumor, or I've heard that the cognitive slam from chemo therapy can be pretty bad.

Daniel Ingram (a way more talented and accomplished practitioner) described being severely humbled by kidney stones.

And I've been reading some Tibetan teachers who say that if you want to know how you'll fare in the Bardo, just check out the extent to which you get taken in by appearances in your dreams, not to mention the tendency for dullness and lack of clarity in dreams.

On entering old age I find that my hopes that practice will save me from some of the worst of this going up and my confidence that it will going down.
Last Edit: 30 Apr 2015 13:31 by Kacchapa.
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 14:03 #98626

I interpret Bill Hamilton's quotation as the possible short-term fluctuations for someone engaged in practice. I would argue that there is a longer-term upward trend in happiness within which these short-term fluctuations occur. I liken it to a stock that is going up over the longer-term, but which experiences short-term "hiccups."

Timevs.Happiness.png
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 14:42 #98627

For me the feelings are no less intense and in fact they are sometimes even more intense because they are closer, more noticeable and I'm less averse to them. What is very, very different is my reaction and relationship to feelings. That difference can seem to be an increasing reduction in the level of feelings but I think that's a chimera, another construct. Feelings are empty, just like all other objects, but they, like all other objects, have not disappeared. They are perceived as empty, however, as innocuous white clouds floating through a clear blue sky, which I believe is a very apt Vajrayana view of this.

YMMV
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The truth of dukkha 30 Apr 2015 15:36 #98628

I see the cultivation of optimism as akin to metta. "Nurture positive" as Shinzen says.

It could be considered totally delusional sometimes but I believe eventually results in preferable outcomes
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