Tuesday, January 28, 2014

504: Buddhism and suffering

What we clearly should keep in mind, are the questions “What are we talking about?” and “About who are we talking?” The first question we could answer with “Suffering” and the second with “homo sapiens”.

Nice abstractions, but as I said in the previous lecture: ideas emerge in a historical context. Thus what suffering means is colored by its historical context.

“Homo sapiens” is even more astonishing. When you look at this species you see a great variety. It seems that all stages of historical development of the species are still present.

You find men, who still live like as the hunter-gatherers 7000 years ago. There are people organized in tribes, which seem to kill others because they belong to other tribes.

You have (illiterate) people whose way of thinking shows striking resemblance with the way of thinking in Europe of the Middle Ages, believing in ghosts, sorcery and the like.

And you have people, who  live in well organized prosperity with education, healthcare, perfect housing, technology etc. In this melting pot of all kinds of stages of the “condition humaine” we are discussing the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: “There is suffering”

This was according to the Buddha the starting point of human existence. Buddhism is still an accepted philosophy  and based on ideas, formulated more than 2000 years.

Here we are confronted with the question: Do these ideas still apply to our situation? Or, in other words, did a human being about 2400 years ago formulate universal truths about human existence?

Here we enter the realm of interpretation or the debate about, what the Buddha really meant. The answer is clear: there are numerous schools in Buddhism spread across a number of countries like  Japan, China, Tibet, Thailand and some more.

There is no difference here with Islam or Christianity or - I may be wrong - yet one. Through history Christians and Muslims have shown to be pretty willing to murder those who have a different opinion.

Buddhism has been prosecuted now and then, but I have no knowledge of systematic murder by buddhists of other buddhists or disbelievers and infidels. Correct me, if I am mistaken here.

What did the Buddha mean with his First Noble Truth:

- 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

We have to understand this in the light of the other three Noble Truths, especially the third one “There is cessation of suffering”. So, buddhism is not a gloomy pessimistic theory about life.

‘The truth of suffering is like a disease, the truth of origin is like
the cause of the disease, the truth of cessation is like the cure of the disease, and the truth of the path is like the medicine’. 

The Buddha’s central teaching has the form of a medical diagnosis and plan of treatment. But this presupposes of course, that you first must see yourself as a patient with a disease.

We might be inclined to think that many (if not most) human lives are not so bad, that the positive aspects of life outweigh the negative ones.

Similarly, the Buddha thought, most of us can point to some positive features of life: he is not saying we are miserable all the time. 

However, there is something not fully satisfactory about the lives most of us live. We seek enduring happiness by trying to attach ourselves to things that are in constant change.

This sometimes brings temporary and partial fulfillment, but long-term result is frustration and anxiety. Because of the impermanence of the world, we do not achieve the real happiness we implicitly seek.

The Buddha thought we could all sense the truth of this with a moderate amount of honest reflection on the realities of human life, but he also believed that full understanding of the first Truth was difficult to achieve and would require significant progress towards enlightenment.

This is how you can interpret the ideas of the Buddha. It is not my way of looking at our world. That is what I can conclude so far.

The Discussion

[13:17] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:18] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you, great lecture!
[13:18] Zanicia: Thank you
[13:18] herman Bergson: If you have a question or remarks...feel free..the floor is yours :-))
[13:19] Lizzy Pleides: The murdering of the christians and Muslims is not part of their philosophy, it was an interpretation of certain people
[13:19] herman Bergson: You are all meditating now, I suppose ? :-))
[13:19] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:19] Zanicia: hehe
[13:19] Gemma Allen: thinking about it all
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:19] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy
[13:20] herman Bergson: But beliefs exist only in the human mind and are the motivation to action
[13:20] herman Bergson: Besides that...the Quran states that you may kill infidels and throw homosexuals from the highest building
[13:21] Gemma Allen: well
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: indeed, thats awful
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: in christianity it was the union of church with political power
[13:21] Gemma Allen: like the bible maybe not literal
[13:21] itsme Frederix: Belief, religion - makes up a story including cause & theodice
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: mh - but from what itsme?
[13:21] herman Bergson: That is the big problem Gemma....
[13:22] itsme Frederix: Ciska we need stories!
[13:22] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: yes ... we need stories.. what do we need them for?
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: i think... we need them mostly for our emotions
[13:22] herman Bergson: on the one hand --they say -- there is the bible, quran or whatever book and on the other hand there are people interpreting it...
[13:22] itsme Frederix: tell me your story
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: so thats the psychological aspect
[13:23] Gemma Allen: exactly
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:23] Gemma Allen: and no court to decide
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: we rationalize emotions in form of stories
[13:23] Gemma Allen: the correct
[13:23] herman Bergson: exactly Gemma
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: and many people interpret it wrong and use it as mean of oppression
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: very common with islam
[13:24] Zanicia: 'Christianity' is such a foul corruption. The term came to represent those who followed the Christ, originally. But he never pointed to any set religeion...just to the Almighty Creator himself. It is the people who abused that first label who do diabolical acts to other human beings. That typifies all man-made religions to me. God MUST be separated from all these different ideolologies.
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: and to gain power
[13:24] herman Bergson: there you state the probem Bejiita....WHAT is the wrong interpretation and who decides on that?
[13:24] Laila Schuman: the stories are really poetry..and need to be understood as the poet understands...
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: yes Laila - thats how i see it too
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: they try to express something we have no language for otherwise
[13:24] Laila Schuman: ye
[13:24] Laila Schuman: yes
[13:24] Dag: I wonder if we can assume that the human mind is subject of evolution and go beyond the religions, all of them
[13:24] Tomi Eiren: i have a friend in an muslim country and he told me that growing up, homosexual activity is somewhat accepted as just growing up. he lives is saudi arabia O.o that confuses me lol
[13:25] Zanicia: any comment on what I just said?
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is indeed the big question Dag
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: interesting point
[13:25] Mikki Louise: Who then is to do the separation though, Zanicia?
[13:26] herman Bergson: Indeed Mikki
[13:26] Zanicia: Us of course....sorry that was a long comment before
[13:26] Mikki Louise: and who or what is God if not defined through human terms?
[13:27] herman Bergson: If the only tool available is the human mind....where then and how is this god known?
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ''
[13:27] herman Bergson: speperate from interpretations of texts
[13:27] herman Bergson: This is my questio about Buddhism too.....
[13:28] herman Bergson: how was it possible to reach this Enlightment?
[13:28] Gemma Allen: a long time undr the tree
[13:28] itsme Frederix: so the topic is "suffer", we've to suffer (or in other terms its asad story)
[13:28] herman Bergson: How was it possible to know that THAT was the most deisred state of being?
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: well there you have one core problem of humanity from my point of view herman
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: we want something everyone can check back and say - thats it
[13:28] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:28] Gemma Allen: never happens
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: but its only something you can experience
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: thats what at least i understand right now
[13:29] Gemma Allen: my answer is that we need a good invasion of aliens ... then mankind will come together
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: hahahah gemma
[13:29] herman Bergson: And that is the questionable thing Ciska.....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: hehe i guess so
[13:29] Gemma Allen: not so funny think about it
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: something like that
[13:29] herman Bergson: who tells me what experience is the right experience and how can that other know this?
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: well
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: they can leave their ray guns and invasion plans at home however
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: thats the thing
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: buddha answers that with the 4 reliances
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: want to meet kind aliens if anu
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: any
[13:30] Gemma Allen: remember we are nto talking about a religion here with buddhism
[13:30] Gemma Allen: a way of life
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Gemma.....and a way of thinking about life
[13:31] itsme Frederix: back to the topic
[13:31] Zanicia: so is 'proper' Christianity
[13:31] herman Bergson: and the starting point is There is suffering
[13:31] Dag: now is the experience maybe not the right term
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: indeed buddhism is more a lifestyle then a relgion
[13:31] Dag: I would rather speak of the content of our consciousness
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: something in between these 2 i guess
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: for me buddhism tries to seperate the mindstories from sweeping the floor
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Dag
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: yes dag - but conciousness can only be experienced
[13:32] Gemma Allen: many athiests and christians and others practice buddhism
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: you must do it yourself
[13:32] Zanicia: MUST?
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: so its an action - hence an experience
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: well if you want to of course ,)
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: if you do not - you will not experience it
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: its as simple as that
[13:33] itsme Frederix: Ciska tautology "experience consiousness" or not - good question I guess
[13:33] Dag: no I mean... the experience is the same as the content
[13:33] herman Bergson: which assumes that there IS something special to experience Ciska :-)
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] Dag: how I feel or what I think IS the consciousness
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:34] Zanicia: yes
[13:34] herman Bergson: Your personal consciousness Dag, yes
[13:34] Dag: yes of course
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: is what you think always concious dag?
[13:35] herman Bergson: tho every man has a conscious, he never will experience what you esperience
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: no, you can not feel what someone else feels, at least not directly
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: as little as you can read someone elses mind
[13:35] herman Bergson: And yet we have to live together as social beings
[13:35] itsme Frederix: do we?
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: you can have similar experiences and feelings
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: yes - and in my opinion that leads to religion
[13:36] herman Bergson: and adopting some set of ideas and philosophies of live is a way to do so
[13:36] herman Bergson: not necessarily to religion
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: well - but it can organize a good amout of people
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: in the past it did
[13:36] herman Bergson: Like Buddhism or the Stocics for instance have no theology
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: not good
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: but it did
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: so there is the motivation for me to built it
[13:37] itsme Frederix: @Herman, what about addressing chat to @herman - sometimes I guess there ar more threads in this conversation (excuse me, I'll be silent for a while)
[13:38] herman Bergson: I see Itsme...
[13:38] herman Bergson: I am not familiar with this method
[13:38] herman Bergson: I guess you have apoint here
[13:39] herman Bergson: SO the method is to say @itsme if I respond to your remark Itsme?
[13:39] itsme Frederix: @Herman YEP
[13:39] Gemma Allen: where
[13:39] Gemma Allen: here?
[13:39] Chantal: @ all Yes
[13:39] Gemma Allen: or is he talking facebook?
[13:40] herman Bergson: I did it in some way, by mentioning the name of someone now and then in my reaction ..:-)
[13:40] itsme Frederix: @all, wecan use names, like in vocal conversation - but more peculiar doing chat.
[13:40] herman Bergson: @ gemma...no here ^_^
[13:40] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:40] Gemma Allen: hopes i can adjust
[13:40] Gemma Allen: need a practice session
[13:41] herman Bergson: lol yes....after 500 lectures of "misbehavior" in chat :-))
[13:41] Gemma Allen: right
[13:41] Chantal:
[13:41] Mikki Louise: it would make it easier to follow the various threads that spark off... but hope we can avoid @all when speaking generally
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[13:41] Gemma Allen: well you dont use caps as much as you used to have to do it
[13:41] Zanicia: I see----said the blind man. You might say that was Enlightenment. (changing the subject back)
[13:41] itsme Frederix: @Herman, not that bad - I reminmeber this was one of the ancient rules
[13:42] Gemma Allen: here ?
[13:42] herman Bergson: never here in class....
[13:42] Gemma Allen: not while i was here
[13:42] Gemma Allen: no
[13:42] Gemma Allen: and that is ancient history
[13:42] Laila Schuman: nods
[13:42] itsme Frederix: @Zanica, good point. So do you have to be blind to see?
[13:42] herman Bergson: There...you see..even here in class life eventually ends up in suffering :-))
[13:43] Chantal: hehehe
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: lol, yes
[13:43] Gemma Allen: :-)
[13:43] Dag: lol...not so bad really
[13:43] herman Bergson: Maybe Buddhea was right ^_^
[13:43] Zanicia: Some people are blind all their lives. Mentally
[13:43] Laila Schuman: we are wayyyyyyyyy off subject folks
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:43] Gemma Allen: yes
[13:43] Frost: 0o
[13:43] herman Bergson smiles
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: but it is fun with a little chaos
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:44] Dag: anyways, the problem that all religions bring in is conditioning of the mind
[13:44] herman Bergson: The point is that Buddha sets a specific perspective on life....
[13:44] herman Bergson: where the starting point is suffering and the endpoint nirvana
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aa
[13:45] Laila Schuman: and our desires/expectations are the culprits
[13:45] itsme Frederix: @H thats not bad, that good and optimistic, isn't it?
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes Dag, but that is inevitable
[13:45] Dag: inevitable, but so many don’t see that
[13:45] herman Bergson: like we have political parties ..political perpectives....
[13:46] Dag: yes all that mess
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: hehe inded
[13:46] herman Bergson: But the point for me is that this conditioning at present is such acomplete chaos....
[13:46] Zanicia: Can you see that ending in Nirvana?
[13:46] herman Bergson: while in the Capitalist world the conditioning only seems to be focused on material greed
[13:47] Dag: true
[13:47] Gemma Allen: wow jangle
[13:47] herman Bergson: Even the Chinese do it :-)
[13:48] Jangle McElroy: Greetings. Apologies for my late arrival.
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: indeed, the party in Sweden ruling now for ex only care about the rich and the ones already having a job although they describe them selves as the "work party"
[13:48] herman Bergson: But the point of Buddha and other theories, which evolved into religions, believe that eventually there is just one final perspective
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: they don’t help people getting work at all instead they punish them making them even poorer
[13:48] Zanicia: same in Italy
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Well Herman, a final perspetive is truth of life! So thats no argument against!
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: that's suffering again Bejiita
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes...if you think in terms of tribes...there is a a new tribe emerging in the Capitalst world...
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: very real suffering for sure
[13:49] herman Bergson: the tribe of the (super) rich and wealthy...
[13:49] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:49] Zanicia: yes
[13:50] Laila Schuman: Ayn Rand... a point of view
[13:50] Gemma Allen: is almost like the feudal times coming back in a way
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: we need a Robin hood here in sweden now i think
[13:50] Gemma Allen: everywhere
[13:50] itsme Frederix: I guess  Buddha would say "let them be, and go your own way"
[13:50] Bejiita Imako:
[13:50] herman Bergson: That is why I am not a Buddhist Itsme :-)
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: thats the point - buddha would guestion the intention in following such ;)
[13:51] Gemma Allen: beertjie
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: smiles....
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: I forgot....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako:
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: again///
[13:51] Dag: at the very moment that I believe in the final perspective I create conflict in myself
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe ok
[13:51] herman Bergson: In what way Dag?
[13:52] Dag: because of the desire to reach it
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: well indeed its hard coming to one single point (nirvana) if there is chaos
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: cause chaos just mixes around
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: liiem in a blender
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: like
[13:52] herman Bergson: Maybe such final state is like trying to cath the horizon
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: maybee
[13:53] herman Bergson: catch
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: but we can at least try
[13:53] Dag: but the only thing that matters is the actual state, isnt it
[13:53] itsme Frederix: @all, nice meting you bye.
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ok bye then Itsme
[13:53] Bejiita Imako:
[13:53] herman Bergson: Take care Itsme :-)
[13:53] Jangle McElroy: Good bye.
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu
[13:54] Dag: bye itsme
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: bye itsme
[13:54] Gemma Allen: see you soon
[13:54] Gemma Allen: we hope
[13:54] herman Bergson whispers: Well..I guess we have stirred our minds with enough thoughts today :0
[13:54] Gemma Allen: yes
[13:54] herman Bergson: Enough for a whole weekend
[13:54] Zanicia: hehe
[13:54] Bejiita Imako:
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman thanx all
[13:55] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:55] Gemma Allen: yes
[13:55] herman Bergson: So ...thank you al  again for your nice participation...
[13:55] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:55] Gemma Allen: hope to be here Tuesday
[13:55] Frost: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:55] Zanicia: Thank you Herman
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: yes, very nice again
[13:55] Jangle McElroy: Thanks
[13:55] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:55] Dag: tyvm herman
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: :)¨
[13:55] Zanicia: Bye Bye for now
[13:55] Tomi Eiren: Thank you ^^
[13:56] Jangle McElroy: Bye Gemma too :)
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: good weekend everyone
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: same to you
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: thanx
[13:56] Chantal: TP is not working

[13:56] Jangle McElroy: It's quite a walk home

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