Author Topic: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?  (Read 5326 times)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2018, 02:35:39 am »
All these additional worries are self-inflicted. This is what the Arrow Sutta is addressing. The last sentence in your quote, "He feels one pain: physical, but not mental." really means, if we wish to be precise and pedantic, "He feels, or receives, the very important message from a part of his body to his mind (or brain) that something is wrong with that part of the body and needs attending to, but he does not create additional fabrications of worry in his mind, relating to other issues which are pure speculation."

I think the point here is that the first arrow ( bodily pain ) is inevitable, but the second arrow ( mental anguish ) is not.  The mechanics are less important.

If one is hit by an arrow, without protection, then pain is probably inevitable, but also something that is generally essential for our survival. Imagine the trouble that children would experience without the deterence of pain. They could stick their hands in fires and cut off their fingers just for fun.

Whilst the experience of some degree of bodily pain will be inevitable during every person's life, it can often be avoided by making wise decisions and being mindful in order to avoid accidents.

Sure, bodily pain has a protective function in evolutionary terms.  But bodily pain also results from disease and aging, and those things will come to us all sooner or later.  It's just the way it is.
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Online stillpointdancer

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #46 on: January 27, 2018, 04:04:01 am »

Sure, bodily pain has a protective function in evolutionary terms.  But bodily pain also results from disease and aging, and those things will come to us all sooner or later.  It's just the way it is.
That's it exactly. Pain is part of being alive and being human. Without it, it wouldn't be the same experience. On the other hand I have had enough myself to understand why people would want to be without physical pain sometimes.
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2018, 04:06:31 am »
All these additional worries are self-inflicted. This is what the Arrow Sutta is addressing. The last sentence in your quote, "He feels one pain: physical, but not mental." really means, if we wish to be precise and pedantic, "He feels, or receives, the very important message from a part of his body to his mind (or brain) that something is wrong with that part of the body and needs attending to, but he does not create additional fabrications of worry in his mind, relating to other issues which are pure speculation."

I think the point here is that the first arrow ( bodily pain ) is inevitable, but the second arrow ( mental anguish ) is not.  The mechanics are less important.

If one is hit by an arrow, without protection, then pain is probably inevitable, but also something that is generally essential for our survival. Imagine the trouble that children would experience without the deterence of pain. They could stick their hands in fires and cut off their fingers just for fun.

Whilst the experience of some degree of bodily pain will be inevitable during every person's life, it can often be avoided by making wise decisions and being mindful in order to avoid accidents.

Sure, bodily pain has a protective function in evolutionary terms.  But bodily pain also results from disease and aging, and those things will come to us all sooner or later.  It's just the way it is.

That certainly used to be the case, during the times of the Buddha. However, we now have modern medicines, a variety of effective pain-killers, and potentially very good palliative care for those who have no hope of recovery.

Of course, people who are ill and/or aged usually experience some degree of discomfort, but it's nothing like what it used to be in a world without anesthetics, effective pain-killers, and well-organised, caring hospital staff.

Consider yourself lucky you aren't living during the times of the Buddha. We now have the best of both worlds; the wisdom of ancient sages plus the benefits of modern science and medicine, and in some advanced societies a social security network that takes good care of the poor.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #48 on: January 28, 2018, 03:35:17 am »
Of course, people who are ill and/or aged usually experience some degree of discomfort, but it's nothing like what it used to be in a world without anesthetics, effective pain-killers, and well-organised, caring hospital staff.

Bodily pain is better managed these days ( at least in some countries ), but there is still illness, disease, aging and death, and these are inescapable.

The important point here is that the more one can accept these facts of life, the less mental anguish and dukkha there will be.  That's what the Arrow Sutta is saying.

Linking this back to the OP, the Second Noble Truth basically says that dukkha results from reacting to experience with craving ( wanting ) and aversion ( not wanting ), rather than with equanimity.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 03:45:20 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #49 on: January 28, 2018, 03:37:06 am »

Sure, bodily pain has a protective function in evolutionary terms.  But bodily pain also results from disease and aging, and those things will come to us all sooner or later.  It's just the way it is.
That's it exactly. Pain is part of being alive and being human. Without it, it wouldn't be the same experience. On the other hand I have had enough myself to understand why people would want to be without physical pain sometimes.

I have found that chronic pain is the worst, it can be really debilitating.  Those who are lucky enough not to have yet experienced significant bodily pain might not fully understand of course.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 03:46:30 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #50 on: January 28, 2018, 04:31:42 am »
Of course, people who are ill and/or aged usually experience some degree of discomfort, but it's nothing like what it used to be in a world without anesthetics, effective pain-killers, and well-organised, caring hospital staff.

Bodily pain is better managed these days ( at least in some countries ), but there is still illness, disease, aging and death, and these are inescapable.

I think what you means is that aging and death is inescapable. Illness, disease and the consequent 'physical' pain can be significantly reduced, and sometimes avoided, through a combination of a healthy diet and life-style, the use of pain-killers when painful problems arise, for whatever reasons, and the effective medical procedure which were not available during the times of the Buddha

At least, that's my experience so far. I'm currently 75 years old, nearing 76. I hope to live at least to a hundred, but not by being kept alive for long periods whilst incapacitated. When there's no hope for recovery, I wish to pass away in the most peaceful manner, with whatever amount of palliative care that is required for a peaceful death.

If I were to disagree with the doctor's prognosis or recommended treatment, I might try to cure myself with prolonged fasting, or natural herbal remedies, because I like to be in charge of myself, and tend to favour natural remedies.

Quote
The important point here is that the more one can accept these facts of life, the less mental anguish and dukkha there will be.  That's what the Arrow Sutta is saying.

Of course. That's pretty obvious. Accepting the inevitable has to be beneficial. The Christian Serenity Prayer is very relevant in this context.

"God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change...
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference."

Offline BlackLooter

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2018, 04:35:11 am »
 :r4wheel:

So Buddha exists forever..

But all these things are transient..:

Sickness, disease, the aging process and death..

Even the functions of the body are transient

Thoughts, mindfulness of certain and uncertain things..

No object can last forever except that which lives on in memory

Based on non attachment to these things.. one might overcome life and death..

And maybe suffering itself..

This is all according to the Buddha's teachings..

I think a good question is this: Can one attain Buddhahood during this life? During these times?
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #52 on: January 28, 2018, 04:53:32 am »
:r4wheel:
I think a good question is this: Can one attain Buddhahood during this life? During these times?

Only a person who claims to have achieved Buddhahood in this life could answer such a question. I certainly don't claim to have achieved such a state.  :wink1:

Offline BlackLooter

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #53 on: January 28, 2018, 05:01:20 am »
Hmmm, I think everyone is a Buddha some of the time.. but attaining 100% Buddhahood would probably be a miracle in these end of days..
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #54 on: January 28, 2018, 07:46:03 am »
Of course, people who are ill and/or aged usually experience some degree of discomfort, but it's nothing like what it used to be in a world without anesthetics, effective pain-killers, and well-organised, caring hospital staff.

Bodily pain is better managed these days ( at least in some countries ), but there is still illness, disease, aging and death, and these are inescapable.

I think what you means is that aging and death is inescapable. Illness, disease and the consequent 'physical' pain can be significantly reduced, and sometimes avoided, through a combination of a healthy diet and life-style, the use of pain-killers when painful problems arise, for whatever reasons, and the effective medical procedure which were not available during the times of the Buddha

At least, that's my experience so far. I'm currently 75 years old, nearing 76. I hope to live at least to a hundred, but not by being kept alive for long periods whilst incapacitated. When there's no hope for recovery, I wish to pass away in the most peaceful manner, with whatever amount of palliative care that is required for a peaceful death.

If I were to disagree with the doctor's prognosis or recommended treatment, I might try to cure myself with prolonged fasting, or natural herbal remedies, because I like to be in charge of myself, and tend to favour natural remedies.

Quote
The important point here is that the more one can accept these facts of life, the less mental anguish and dukkha there will be.  That's what the Arrow Sutta is saying.

Of course. That's pretty obvious. Accepting the inevitable has to be beneficial. The Christian Serenity Prayer is very relevant in this context.

"God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change...
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference."


No, I do mean that illness, disease, aging and death are inevitable.  A good lifestyle can reduce the risks of illness and disease, but there are no guarantees, and I have several friends get seriously ill despite doing all the right things.

"Accepting the inevitable has to be beneficial" might be obvious intellectually, but really seeing it is something else entirely. 

 
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #55 on: January 28, 2018, 06:25:41 pm »
No, I do mean that illness, disease, aging and death are inevitable.  A good lifestyle can reduce the risks of illness and disease, but there are no guarantees, and I have several friends get seriously ill despite doing all the right things.

"Accepting the inevitable has to be beneficial" might be obvious intellectually, but really seeing it is something else entirely.

I think perhaps the confusion here, at least on my part, is the concept that it's possible to die of old age. Apparently no doctor would write on any death certificate that the cause of death was old age, even if the cause is not clear as a result of many overlapping complexities.

As the body ages, the immune system functions less effectively, the cells reproduce with error, so eventually the body becomes vulnerable to a specific disease or a multitude of overlapping ailments that cause death.
So, in the sense that death is always accompanied by some sort, or many sorts, of disease, causing organ failure, I would agree that illness, disease, aging and death are inevitable, eventually.

The key word here is 'eventually'. The word inevitable means unavoidable. On the path towards one's eventual demise, there are many illnesses and accidents which can be avoided, but of course not necessarily always avoided in all circumstances.

My objection is really to the all-encompassing, blanket nature of your statement, which seems to imply that there's nothing one can do to avoid illness and disease during the course of one's life. For example, I'm sure you would agree there are many vaccines that are effective against many specific diseases, such as  polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, tetanus, hepatitis, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, and so on.

I presume such diseases would have existed during the times of the Buddha, and infant mortality would have been very high, as well as the suffering of many adults from accidents and diseases that got progressively worse, as witnessed by the Buddha outside the palace.

I'm sorry that you had friends who got seriously ill despite doing all the right things. However, self-reporting is often very unreliable. How can we be sure they did all the right things? There is also the problem of genetic variability, so what is right for one person might not be right for another.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2018, 03:01:30 am »
I acknowledged it is possible to reduce the risk of illness and disease.  But I think you are missing the point that there is a genetic component in many diseases, so it's the luck of the draw in terms of family history and predisposition.   

Anyway, returning to the OP, what is your take on the Second Noble Truth?  What did you make of my earlier summary of the Second Truth, as follows:  "The Second Noble Truth basically says that dukkha results from reacting to experience with craving ( wanting ) and aversion ( not wanting ), rather than with equanimity."  Agree?  Disagree?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 04:21:45 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #57 on: January 29, 2018, 05:31:32 pm »
I acknowledged it is possible to reduce the risk of illness and disease.

Do you also acknowledge that it's sometimes possible to actually cure an illness and disease with modern medicines that weren't available during the times of the Buddha?

Quote
But I think you are missing the point that there is a genetic component in many diseases, so it's the luck of the draw in terms of family history and predisposition.


Why do you think that? Didn't you notice my remark at the end of the previous post?  "There is also the problem of genetic variability, so what is right for one person might not be right for another."

Quote
What did you make of my earlier summary of the Second Truth, as follows: "The Second Noble Truth basically says that dukkha results from reacting to experience with craving ( wanting ) and aversion ( not wanting ), rather than with equanimity." Agree? Disagree?

Agree/Disagree? Isn't that a duality? Shouldn't we try to avoid dualities, like hot or cold, good or bad, when trying to be precise?

I believe I understand the Arrow Sutta quite well. The initial experience of pain from the arrow, which serves a very practical and necessary purpose, is often exaggerated by feelings of aversion, and worry about the consequences of the pain. Different parts of the brain and its pathways, deal with the different aspects of that initial pain from the arrow. One part of the brain generates the basic feeling of pain due to the arrow piercing the flesh. Another part of the brain identifies the location of the source of the pain in or on the body, and yet other parts of the brain will fabricate the worry, anguish and aversion which has the effect of exaggerating the pain.

I have no doubt that Buddhist teachings, meditation and mindfulness practices, can significantly reduce the overall pain, by eliminating those aspects of the pain which are due to aversion, anguish and worry. What I'm not so sure about is the experience of that basic, fundamental, signal of pain, that informs our consciousness that an injury to our body has occurred.

I would deduce that a very advanced Buddhist practitioner, such as an Arahant, which I don't claim to be, would be able to completely remove all sensations of pain, and even undergo a major surgical operation without the need of anesthetics, but I'm just speculating.

There is also the issue of the precise meaning of Dukkha. Does it include all types of pain, including that basic, unadorned pain of an arrow piercing the flesh? If it does, then your summary of the Second Noble Truth needs amending along the lines:

"The Second Noble Truth basically says that often (but not always) dukkha results from reacting to experience with craving ( wanting ) and aversion ( not wanting ), rather than with equanimity."

Am I getting too pedantic?  :wink1:

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2018, 07:41:48 pm »
In the Arrow sutta provided by this link:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html


There is the Sutta, and Near the end, There are four Verses, Mantra, Stanza (?)  Each of them sharing relevance.

I see a couple of major things, but am entirely open to the possibility that what I think on this is misinterpreted.

First, That a person who feels mental suffering from physical pain suffers twice, which the Sutta says plainly.

Second, That a person who is attached to the idea of health and fails to recognize that it is going to fail regardless of effort eventually, is going to suffer twice, because this disposition will not be prepared to fully accept the first understanding, they can't be. So they will resort to the things listed in the Suttra which are "uninstructed" because they have not prepared and realized the futility of the situation, instead being caught in the specifics.   

Quote
The discerning person, learned,
doesn't sense a (mental) feeling of pleasure or pain:
 This is the difference in skillfulness between the sage & the person run-of-the-mill.

For a learned person
who has fathomed the Dhamma,
clearly seeing this world & the next,
           desirable things don't charm the mind,
           undesirable ones bring no resistance.

 His acceptance
& rejection   are scattered,
            gone to their end,
            do not exist.

Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
 has gone,
beyond becoming,
 to the Further Shore.

My personal trouble is with  desirable things don't charm the mind, health is desirable, sure, but failing to accept that it is going to fail, (because one way or another it is going to), that seems like being charmed by it. Arguing that this type of failure or that type of failure is the relevant point and being terribly specific avoids that health is fragile, and every effort, every skill, the entire legacy of medicine and healing art developed by all of the effort all of humankind out of the desire to keep health intact has not solved death, illness and aging.

The teaching seems to provide a disposition about this in undesirable ones bring no resistance. I haven't achieved this, I know this because the last time I almost died I was really unhappy about it and it wasn't really that long ago (illness). Now, I learned from that, and when I was badly injured and stuck I was a great deal more peaceful about it, but I learned that I am defiantly going to die and I already know I get illness and am aging. I could get specific, argue that this thing or that thing will not be the way of it, but that's resisting. 

Trying to accept these issues in advance and create the proper dispositions to them seems like the only course of action when one reads this, especially in light of the For a learned person part. It seems to me to indicate that learning before the arrow is the only way to go. 

Physically resisting illness is responsible, you wouldn't leave the arrow there, mentally resisting illness, aging and death as relevant phenomenon which will be important to us all seems like craving to me, and, while not explicit in the sutta, it does seem implicit to me.  What is the point of the mental resistance if it does not come from craving a different circumstance, why be specific about this illness or that one if not craving to see a way of escape,  there will always be another and eventually my body will fail, I will physically resist but mentally I am practicing to let go of this concern.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving? Is that all?
« Reply #59 on: January 30, 2018, 04:06:13 am »
I'm not sure I understand all the points you are making, Anemephistus.
Your post sounds a bit rambling. You haven't been drinking have you?  :wink1:

Anyway, one of the problems in the Sutta that I see is highlighted by the following verse towards the end of your 'acesstoinsight' link.

"The discerning person, learned, doesn't sense a (mental) feeling of pleasure or pain: This is the difference in skillfulness between the sage & the person run-of-the-mill."

Since we both agree that the sensation of bodily pain serves a vital purpose for survival, I find the statement a bit strange that a discerning and learned person would not sense any feeling of pleasure or pain at all.
Perhaps this is due to a flawed translation of the Sutta, or a failure, in the memorised teachings handed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years, to understand that all pain, whatever it's source, can only be experienced in the mind.

I don't see how anyone could sensibly argue against that in modern times. A person who is anesthetized does not feel any pain, of whatever type, because he is temporarily unconscious. To feel pain one has to be awake and conscious.

The word (mental), in parenthesis in the quote, would appear to suggest there is a distinction being made between a pain with a physical source and a pain with a mental source, and that the discerning and learned person does not feel any of the emotional pain that the run-of-the-mill person unnecessarily and foolishly creates, and which adds to the initial, physical pain stimulus and might make the pain in the mind, unbearable.

If this is what is really meant in the Sutta, it's still not clear how that pain with a physical source is felt by the discerning and learned person. I'm assuming that the discerning and learned person still feels the pain, but it is much reduced when stripped of the unnecessary emotional pain, and is therefore much more bearable, but still strong enough to be useful as a warning signal.

Quote
My personal trouble is with desirable things don't charm the mind, health is desirable, sure, but failing to accept that it is going to fail, (because one way or another it is going to), that seems like being charmed by it. Arguing that this type of failure or that type of failure is the relevant point and being terribly specific avoids that health is fragile, and every effort, every skill, the entire legacy of medicine and healing art developed by all of the effort all of humankind out of the desire to keep health intact has not solved death, illness and aging.

We have not completely solved it, true. But we have definitely created the potential for great improvement, especially if one combines the wisdom of Buddhism with the modern dietary and lifestyle knowledge, and with modern medication and painkillers when used as a last resort when natural remedies don't work.

Of course, in the end, there's no escaping death and the accompanying illness that eventually causes it. However, prior to that inevitable ending, we have the potential to organize our affairs to ensure maximum health and longevity, if we wish to give that priority.

My impression is that most people don't have that as a priority. Their priority is satisfying their desires, ego and vanity, eating too much tasty but junk food just for the pleasure, and becoming overweight and sick as a result.

My impression also is that much of the modern medical industry in developed countries, serves the purpose of administering medication to sick people to allow them to continue with their unhealthy diet and lifestyle which is the real cause of their illness. It's much easier to take a blood-pressure pill every day than change one's diet and lifestyle in order to reduce one's blood pressure.

 


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