Author Topic: Many Questions  (Read 744 times)

Offline WesternDragon

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Many Questions
« on: August 07, 2016, 09:29:29 am »
Most of my life I have sought wisdom yet only within the last week have read anything about Buddhism.  In that time my respect and curiosity for the teachings I have seen have grown substantially.  However I do have many questions.  First off it's my understanding that nirvana is, in part, a place where suffering has quelled within oneself.  I believe I read that it brings balance within.  However I have not had an easy life and throughout it Ive come to try to embrace all emotions whether they cause joy or suffering having felt that balance came about as not realizing them as opposite but two parts of the same whole. 

I was hoping for someone to clarify whatever misunderstandings my beliefs may hold and help me understand how the lack of all suffering is balanced. 


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Offline DavidM843

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Re: Many Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 08:04:03 pm »
The Buddha never discussed what nirvana is, other than freedom from samsaric existence.  Even after his enlightenment, Shakyamuni felt the pains of injury and sickness.  Trying to figure out what nirvana is us a waste of time.  The practice isn't figuring out what nirvana is, it's working to achieve it.  It is achieved through the Eight Fold Path.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Many Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2016, 03:29:11 am »
Most of my life I have sought wisdom yet only within the last week have read anything about Buddhism.  In that time my respect and curiosity for the teachings I have seen have grown substantially.  However I do have many questions.  First off it's my understanding that nirvana is, in part, a place where suffering has quelled within oneself.  I believe I read that it brings balance within.  However I have not had an easy life and throughout it Ive come to try to embrace all emotions whether they cause joy or suffering having felt that balance came about as not realizing them as opposite but two parts of the same whole. 

I was hoping for someone to clarify whatever misunderstandings my beliefs may hold and help me understand how the lack of all suffering is balanced. 


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A good question. There is a big difference between understanding aspects of nirvana intellectually, as you describe the inner quelling of suffering, and experiencing the emotional impact of understanding that enlightenment experiences bring. Actual insights also bring a richness and complexity that cannot be analysed at the time, as they are so fleeting. You understand that you are in the experience, at which time it goes, as if incompatible with rational thought.

So what you are left with is trying to sort things out in the aftermath of the experience, in a rational way, but still living with an emotional dimension that only fades gradually. Trying to unpick the complexity is a monumental task. You look around at what others have said, and find some things, but no exact descriptions your experience. And that's the problem, I think. It's impossible to describe what you knew nirvana to be afterwards. You can give a flavor of the experience, but unless you are a true artist even that falls far short of what you want to say. So far short that it's better not to talk about it.

If you do, history tells us that not only will it be misleading to others, your description could easily be taken out of context and used in ways you didn't intend. Look at Nietzsche's description of religion as, 'The opiate of the masses', for example. You only have to look at Jesus's actual teachings, then look at how the christian church developed to see what I mean.

On the other hand, if we dismiss descriptions on nirvana out of hand, we miss out on the main reason to follow the path in the first place; to understand nirvana and use this understanding to see reality, properly, for the first time. Maybe we need talented people to give contemporary descriptions, embedded in the context of modern society? How many more people would follow the path, or renew efforts to follow the path?

Sorry to leave an answer to your question with more questions, but that's what happens if you dare to delve into Buddhism  :wink1:
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Dblues8

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Re: Many Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2016, 02:07:55 pm »
I was hoping for someone to clarify whatever misunderstandings my beliefs may hold and help me understand how the lack of all suffering is balanced. 

Buddhism without meditation is not Buddhism.  Do not worry much about the intellectual ideas everything needed will come naturally from the meditation.  I suggest taking a retreat if you are serious about this.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Many Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2016, 02:32:16 pm »
Quote
DBlues8:  "Buddhism without meditation is not Buddhism.  Do not worry much about the intellectual ideas everything needed will come naturally from the meditation."


Not sure exactly what you mean by this.  Study of The Suttas / Sutras leaves us with at least an intellectual understanding of Buddhas teachings and example.  Practicing what he taught and did leaves us with personal experience from which to draw our own conclusions.  This is what he related in his instructions to The Kalamas in The Kalama Sutta with which every Buddhist should at least have a general understanding.

source / reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wheel008.html

The practices of meditation and mindfulness are but a means of practice so that we can come to an understanding of how our minds function, and to understand through observation exactly how they work and what they are.  This is of particular importance when coming to grasp Buddha's teachings regarding emptiness, impermanence, and dependent origination.  These we penetrate only through practice as well.  We will never know what to look for in our practice without first understanding What Buddha Taught, which is found only in The Suttas and Sutras.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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