Thursday, January 23, 2014

503: Buddhist Truths

The Buddha’s teaching is primarily practical rather than theoretical in its orientation. The aim is to show persons how to overcome suffering and attain Nirvana. The purpose is not to persuade them to accept certain doctrines as such.

This practical orientation is interesting, because we see the same attitude in Confucius. He too wasn’t interested in all kinds of metaphysical ideas and considerations.

This practical approach is illustrated by a story about Buddha. Once he refused to answer a series of philosophical questions, brought up by some skeptical disciple of his.

The Buddha described someone wounded by a poison arrow who would not allow a surgeon to treat him until he knew the name and class of the man who wounded him, his height and complexion, where he lived, and so on.

For the practical purpose of healing his wound, there was no reason to answer the questions. The point of the story is that the Buddha had not declared answers to these philosophical questions because there was no practical need to do so.

Answering these questions would have been ‘unbenificial’ and would not have led ‘to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvana.

The teaching of the Buddha does not consist of answers to any and all philosophical questions that might occur to us. Rather, it consists of answers that are needed for a practical purpose.

And this practical purpose is focused on suffering. This focus is formulated in the Four Noble Truth I mentioned in my previous lecture:

1. There is suffering.
2. There is the origination of suffering.
3. There is the cessation of suffering.
4. There is a path to the cessation of suffering.

- original text from the Discourses of the Buddha
First Noble Truth. Now this is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; 

union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
- end text

The first noble truth, or the reality of suffering, assigns to the disciple the practice of cultivating understanding. Such understanding takes place gradually through reflection, analytical meditation, and eventually direct experience. 

What needs to be understood is the nature of suffering, and the different types of suffering and happiness within the cycle of existence.

Whether Buddhism because of this is a philosophy with a rather pessimistic idea about life, we’ll discuss later. There is something else that is nagging on my mind.

As I said in earlier lectures, you can regard philosophy as a kind of behavior, an interaction of homo sapiens with the environment.

And there I see a pattern: the idea that life is suffering. Now refrain from wanting to define suffering, stick to this general concept about existence: it is NOT fun, unless…..

What amazes me is that this attitude towards life is not unique to Buddhism. We have seen it before: this  apparent pattern. In the Stoics (300 BC) , in Christianity.

It is like this: step one is you assume that there is some ultimate desirable/good state of being, call it well being or happiness. And for some reason homo sapiens is not that state by birth.

Step two is that you assume that homo sapiens is unfortunately not born with the wisdom to attain that so much desired state and needs some guide, where these guides are still members of the species homo sapiens.

Step three is that homo sapiens needs to submit himself to all kinds of rules, practices and teachings, which, if obeyed properly, promise him the attainment of this ultimately desired state of being.

Islam is even mere serious in this respect. There the only right way of being for the individual is in worshipping Allah. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Quran 51:56          (jinn = angel)

So performing all the prayer rituals and acting according “arkan al-Islam”  (the Pillars of Islam - Testimony, Prayer, Alms giving, Fasting and Pilgrimage) are the only way to achieve this special state.

I just wonder: WHAT is homo sapiens doing here?

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Philosophy of the BuddhaChristopher W. Gowans (2003)
 Buddhist Ethics, Damien Keown (2005) 
From Africa to Zen, R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins
Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Robert E. Buswell, Jr., ed. (2004)

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:21] Nectanebus: nice
[13:21] Chu Ann EastChu Ann East claps
[13:21] ἀρετή: hmm..
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: interesting thought indeed
[13:21] Ada Zaurak: ty, herman
[13:21] Nectanebus: I must mention quickly, however, that jinn is closer to "spirit" than "angel".
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks Herman!
[13:21] herman Bergson: My pleasure Ada :-)
[13:21] oola Neruda: is it only to achieve that state or reward... or is it a way to prevent the evil things that people do to each other (a beginning of law)
[13:22] oola Neruda: society as chaos
[13:22] ἀρετή: what happened to that guy in buddha's story? did he die of the poison arrow?
[13:22] herman Bergson: He did :-)
[13:22] Nectanebus: No brahmin around to help extract it, unfortunately..
[13:22] ἀρετή: he must have been a warrior
[13:23] herman Bergson: I don’t see the things you mention in your disjuctive statement as related oola
[13:24] Zanicia: Well I do
[13:24] oola Neruda: you were speaking of various religions aiming at achieving the reward
[13:24] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:24] oola Neruda: that being the purpose of following rules
[13:24] ἀρετή: psst.. does anyone have notes for the last two classes on buddhism? :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: The point is that it is claimed that we are all in some wrong state and that we have to do our best to achieve the right one
[13:24] Gemma Allen: they wiill be in the blog
[13:24] Chu Ann East: lol areyn
[13:24] Gemma Allen: just check the blog
[13:24] Zanicia: Chaos has brought man into thousands of different religions...all man made, all destructive
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes I have arete...the blog
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: yes and that we are evil and need to purify ourselves bu punishments ect
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: which cause suffering, not eases it
[13:25] herman Bergson:
[13:25] ἀρετή: Thank you :)
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita....and where does this come from????
[13:25] Zanicia: Punishments are merely going against other's rules and traditions
[13:26] Mikki Louise: the suffering is because different groups follow differing philosophies/religions
[13:26] herman Bergson: I really don't get it why homo sapiens explains his existence like this
[13:26] Zanicia: indeed
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: from these strange rules
[13:26] herman Bergson: No no....
[13:26] herman Bergson: the meant suffering is real...
[13:27] herman Bergson: real suffering as old age or disease
[13:27] oola Neruda: prevent suffering
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: i dont get either why we make up such things for ourselves instead of just live and be happy
[13:27] oola Neruda: and a reason to follow the rules... reward
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: happiness comes by itself then
[13:27] ἀρετή: maybe we can't be happy unless we've suffered first
[13:27] Zanicia: people have a need for constraint
[13:27] Mikki Louise: I understand, Herman... I'm referring to the chaos, war, etc mentioned by Zanicia
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: complicated question indeed
[13:28] herman Bergson: I agree....I don't deny the existence of suffering.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: never thought about it in that way really
[13:28] Mikki Louise: in the end, there will either be no religion, or more likely, only one survivor
[13:28] Zanicia: and I meant there have always those people who impose on others
[13:28] herman Bergson: and what oola says is also a strong mechanism...obeying rules leads to rewards...
[13:28] Gemma Allen: this is too pessimistic
[13:28] herman Bergson: That is what Pavlov already discovered
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: for me the simple answer is a built in human thing called control and fear
[13:29] ἀρετή: the one in control must be very happy...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: i guess that can be an explanation
[13:29] Gemma Allen: I think that is what the buddha was trying to change
[13:29] Nectanebus: I think there was a part in the lecture which mentioned the diefferences in approach with Buddhism, Confucianism, and such vis-a-vis more proselytizing types...
[13:29] herman Bergson: That is what I mean Gemma ...this negativism, this pessimism about the 'condition humaine’
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: inded
[13:29] Nectanebus: but w/e
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: yes gemma
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: cause most religious leaders today are the ones that get happy but the other people below him suffers
[13:30] Gemma Allen: hmmm
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: look how they oppress their people in Iran for ex
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: do you think the pope is happy bejita?
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: i doubt it
[13:30] Gemma Allen  looks at the new pope
[13:30] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: at least the new pope seem to have something good inside his head for once sake
[13:30] Gemma Allen: he clearly sees the suffering of the human
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: he tries to change but he is clearly not happy ;)
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i like the new pope
[13:30] oola Neruda: me too
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: yes bejita - but the man is suffering too don't you think?
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: all this power and he cannot do much
[13:31] Nectanebus: The chief of a tribe is the sacrifice thereof in many societies, let's not forget May Queens and ithyphallic societies
[13:31] Gemma Allen: i thinnk he is
[13:31] herman Bergson: And here I begin to believe that not these religious ideas are correct intheir observation but Marx was :-)
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: guess maybee he is but on the other hand he is not oppressing and controling his people like in these islamic countries
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: saudi arabia iran ect
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: explain please herman
[13:31] Zanicia: If we live to please others instead of ourselves we get rewards. If we want to always please ourselves...where is the reward in the end? All is so transient. And the Pope is a good example...he is a good man but heading the most corrupt of influences in the world.
[13:31] Chu Ann East: i guess the pope had one day in live a chance to chosse his way.
[13:31] herman Bergson: Inequality....unequal distribution of resources....
[13:32] Chu Ann East: so i guess he is now not suffering^^
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: Turkey follow islam but they don’t oppress the people with it as i see
[13:32] Chu Ann East: it was his choice.
[13:32] herman Bergson: exploiting people for person profit...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: uses it more correctly
[13:32] Zanicia: yes
[13:32] Gemma Allen: not in his mind i think chu
[13:32] Chu Ann East: yes, in ours
[13:32] Zanicia: The Pope is also a puppet
[13:32] Chu Ann East: but we do not have a clue of his life#
[13:32] Gemma Allen: the cardinals chose him and in his mind that was god's will
[13:33] Gemma Allen: oh i dont think he is a puppet
[13:33] Chu Ann East: yes but to get there u know what u do
[13:33] Gemma Allen: at all
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: if you make people around you happy everyone will be happy
[13:33] Chu Ann East: true bejita
[13:33] Chu Ann East: and what is suffering?
[13:33] Gemma Allen: his background shows his humility in his whole life
[13:33] Chu Ann East: i guess 4 everyone different
[13:34] Zanicia: that is what makes him a good man. But the Pope heads the influence, nontheless. He is trying for change but hew will never do it
[13:34] Gemma Allen: never acted like a cardinal
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: but people instead do the opposite ad think by making everyone a lower class and suffering and take all from them they will be happy
[13:34] Chu Ann East: for a religious one not the same as 4 us
[13:34] Chu Ann East: we suffer when we do not get a burger
[13:34] Gemma Allen: lived in an apartment and cooked and cleaned for himself
[13:34] Chu Ann East: for example
[13:34] Gemma Allen: rode a bus
[13:34] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:34] Chu Ann East: ^^
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: i say we need to care more for each other and not just for ourselves
[13:35] Chu Ann East: absolutely
[13:35] Zanicia: Bravo
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: like it is in many parts of the world
[13:35] Chu Ann East: sharing is important in life
[13:35] Chu Ann East: and caring
[13:35] Chu Ann East: and not only for our families
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: where power hungry maniacs like the ayatolla and kim yong rules
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well...a nice discussion...
[13:35] Gemma Allen: true
[13:35] herman Bergson: and yes...what is suffering....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: they cause suffering for sure in this world
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll get to that in detail in the next lecture
[13:36] ἀρετή: not for us
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: no not here maybe but for all people in where they rule
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: millions of people
[13:36] ἀρετή: that's true
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: using religion for power
[13:36] herman Bergson: But in this least a reduction of suffering can be achieved by food, healthcare and education for every human being
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: thats a way of starting a change ,)
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: unfortunatley these leaders hold all such things back from the people
[13:37] ἀρετή: can suffering be reduced by changing the way people think?
[13:37] herman Bergson: This is not happening only because some groups have an interest in keeping people hungry and dumb...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:37] Chu Ann East: YES aey
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: exactly
[13:37] Zanicia: That has always been the case
[13:37] herman Bergson: or even don’t care
[13:38] Chu Ann East: thinking leads our lifes
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: so they cant see the reality that their big leader is really the devil homself
[13:38] Chu Ann East: saw yesterday a very interesting documentation abot it
[13:38] Chu Ann East: butin german^^
[13:38] Nectanebus: Thinking does not always result in acting
[13:38] herman Bergson: And that is going to change ZANICIA
[13:38] herman Bergson: not inour lifetime....
[13:38] herman Bergson: but it is impossible that humans stay illiterate in the future
[[13:39] Bejiita Imako: that need to change indeed
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: people need to get knowledge
[13:39] herman Bergson: All these theories based on suffering are methods to make people feel in peace with their miserable conditions
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: what happens in the world, and how it really is
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:40] Gemma Allen: that is true too
[13:40] herman Bergson: You  know what I believe...?
[13:40] Chu Ann East: ppl need to have more faith in themselves
[13:40] Nectanebus: Interesting how it's first world countries that have rising illiteracy rates....there are a few factors to think of there I suppose. Sociodynamic as much as economical and media based.
[13:40] Chu Ann East: no herman^^
[13:40] herman Bergson: Our blog is read by ten thousands of people all over the world...
[13:40] Zanicia: spill!
[13:40] herman Bergson: every thought is a seed....!
[13:41] herman Bergson: It may take generations to bloom....
[13:41] herman Bergson: but it happened here...
[13:41] Chu Ann East: yes herman
[13:41] Chu Ann East: so so true
[13:41] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:41] Gemma Allen: several generations
[13:41] herman Bergson: took more than 300 years...since Newton for instance
[13:41] herman Bergson: around 1850 there was REAL suffering in Europe...!
[13:42] Chu Ann East: yes in the very old days
[13:42] herman Bergson: This cant return anymore....
[13:42] Chu Ann East: there were a lot of suffering
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:42] Chu Ann East: glad that i do not remember anymore^^
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Chu
[13:42] oola Neruda: sorry but with corporations (ayn rand) being people... and global warming coming on... i am not so hopeful...
[13:43] Chu Ann East: so oola do something against in your neighborhood
[13:43] Chu Ann East: e.g.
[13:43] Gemma Allen: OMG!!!
[13:43] Gemma Allen: omg
[13:43] Gemma Allen: rand
[13:43] Nectanebus: we must be the change we wish to see in the world
[13:43] oola Neruda: trust me... i have been
[13:43] Chu Ann East: thats what i think
[13:43] Zanicia: Forget 1850 it continues! What have humans done all these thousands of years to never be able to right this world?
[13:43] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:43] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:43] Gemma Allen: thought she would not be mentioned in this session
[13:43] Nectanebus: thought and action must follow as foot by foot.
[13:43] Nectanebus: else nothing happens
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:44] Chu Ann East: yes, meditation is good to form our thoughts
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ahh believe we are a virus on this globe?
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: virus i hope not
[13:44] Zanicia: yup
[13:44] oola Neruda: there is a national movement... citizens climate change lobby... and they are coordinated... but not as visible as they would like to be... but they have done many good things... like talking to representatives and senators in dc
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: and our emotions chu
[13:44] Chu Ann East: a lot ppl are a virus
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: sorry chu
[13:44] Chu Ann East: but i will be the medicine
[13:45] Chu Ann East: well i try to
[13:45] Zanicia: hehehe
[13:45] oola Neruda: public education
[13:45] Bejiita Imako:
[13:45] Chu Ann East: true oola
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:45] oola Neruda: the peole who are against it have a LOT of money...millions... and they are hard to be heard against
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes I'd love to be the McAfee myself :-)
[13:45] Chu Ann East: but its not impossible
[13:45] Chu Ann East: they r less.
[13:45] oola Neruda: the koch brothers are a good example
[13:46] Chu Ann East: most plk are wek
[13:46] Chu Ann East: and follow only
[13:46] Chu Ann East: week
[13:46] Chu Ann East: weak
[13:46] Chu Ann East: ;-)
[13:46] Zanicia: weak, dear
[13:46] Chu Ann East: i know
[13:46] Zanicia: :)
[13:46] ἀρετή: people are still suffering today...
[13:46] Chu Ann East: yes thats true
[13:46] oola Neruda: so i see suffering as something that will grow... not get better
[13:46] Chu Ann East: and so everyone can do a bit
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes Arete....but not all and the  number IS decreasing....but too slow
[13:47] Chu Ann East: i "suffer"
[13:47] Nectanebus: I think the idea of ending suffering is like the idea of ending war: it's only possible on a personal level, not a societical one.
[13:47] Chu Ann East: but its not suffering 4 me
[13:47] ἀρετή: it's already too late in Syria
[13:47] Chu Ann East: i know that it helps a bit
[13:48] herman Bergson: No no Nectanebus....the idea of ending suffering makes no sense....that never canbe a goal
[13:48] Chu Ann East: yes herman,
[13:48] herman Bergson: But that is what is made us to believe....
[13:48] Chu Ann East: humans learn from suffer
[13:48] Chu Ann East: mostly
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: true chu
[13:49] herman Bergson: by all kinds of rituals and exercises you can reach some enlighted state beyond suffering, it seems
[13:49] Nectanebus: with the right guru, at least
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes Chu...that is a basic principle in evolution....avoid pain and seek pleasure
[13:50] Chu Ann East: but pain is important. out brain learns better with"pain".
[13:50] Chu Ann East: or better, wehn it is hard to learn
[13:50] ἀρετή: but is the lesson the right one to learn?
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: brain sience says it learns best with pleasure enthusiasm...
[13:50] Chu Ann East: whiclesson?
[13:50] Chu Ann East: which
[13:51] oola Neruda: i gave the wrong name.. it is citizens climate lobby
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: i learn best when i think the learning is fun and interesting
[13:51] Chu Ann East: ok
[13:51] oola Neruda: as in ... not paid by some corporation...citizen
[13:51] herman Bergson: yes Ciska with dopamine and endorfines running all over the place ^_^
[13:51] Chu Ann East: but the important things in life stay better in our brains
[13:51] Chu Ann East: when it was hard
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: thats what a neurologist would say too bejiita - i guess there are different kinds of learning - social learning needs negative impulses too as it seems
[13:52] Zanicia: Zan pops another pill while the others aren't looking
[13:52] Chu Ann East: perhaps it stays longer in mind
[13:52] herman Bergson grins
[13:52] Chu Ann East: when it is had to get
[13:52] Chu Ann East: hard
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: eys like at these lectures for ex or when i try learn mastering som fun computer program like blender ect i learn really quick even it is complicated
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cause i think its interesting and fun
[13:53] Chu Ann East: ah ha
[13:53] Chu Ann East: so u learn only things u do not need really^^^
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: it would not stick good if i thought it was boring
[13:53] Chu Ann East: the important things in life are hard^^
[13:53] Zanicia: Blender? Oh lord I am still struggling with Photoshop! Does this mean I suffer?
[13:53] Chu Ann East: believe me
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: i have to have motivation
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:53] Chu Ann East: ^^^#
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: photoshop is advanced as well
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well..I think it is time to end our discussion.....
[13:54] Nectanebus: Sorry, got to go, early night for us tonight
[13:54] ἀρετή: why suffer a bad photo.. just photoshop it :)
[13:54] Corronach: thanks herman.
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: use software like that to make maps to put on things i make in blender or similar software
[13:54] Nectanebus: see you all next week
[13:54] herman Bergson: when Photoshop begins to mean suffering :-)
[13:54] Corronach: goodnight all
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:54] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:54] Chu Ann East: lol herman
[13:54] Nectanebus: night
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: well this was great
[13:55] Gemma Allen: hope to be here thursday
[13:55] Zanicia: Thank you
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu then
[13:55] herman Bergson: NExt lecture we'll see how Buddha dealt with the concept of suffering
[13:55] Bejiita Imako:
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: enjoy everyone
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: very interesting and great discussion, thinker! i am looking forward to continue to suffer! next week :-)
[13:55] Chu Ann East: yes, wa a great discussion
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: /aoo
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: η α м α ѕ т є 
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:55] ἀρετή: Thanks for all the lessons
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:55] herman Bergson: Thank you all for this lively discussion
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: I have to go too, Good night all!
[13:55] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:55] ἀρετή: and suffer sl greyness for some knowledge :)
[13:55] Bejiita Imako:
[13:55] Chu Ann East: see u on thursday
[13:55] Lizzy PleidesLizzy Pleides waves bye
[13:55] Chu Ann EastChu Ann East waves
[13:55] herman Bergson: Bye Lizzy :-)
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye´s
[13:56] Chu Ann East: and spread love till thursday^^
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)

[13:56] herman Bergson: Yes Chu !!!!

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