Author Topic: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life  (Read 335 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« on: November 11, 2018, 04:48:06 pm »
The Buddha taught that everything is impermanent, that everything must change. The desire for permanence is one of the greatest causes of suffering in life:
https://www.thoughtco.com/impermanence-in-buddhism-449702

Probably the hardest thing to accept is the impermanence of life, which causes us to either cling to greed and desire, wanting to live as hedonistically as possible while we still can, or cling to a flowery afterlife that might not even exist.

To one who accepts impermanence, death is the backside to a sheet of paper. There would be no life without death, just as there is no happiness without sorrow.

Imagine if, tomorrow night, you were to fall asleep and never wake up again. How would you live, right now, as a final testament of who you really are?

The Buddha left the question of an afterlife, whether for or against, unanswered. This is so we may live in gratitude for the here and now, rather than speculate endlessly:
http://buddhazen101.tumblr.com/post/25078328254/parable-of-the-poisoned-arrow

Anyone who uses the Buddha to deny an afterlife is wrong. Anyone who uses the Buddha to discourage fruitless speculation on an afterlife is completely right.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 06:40:55 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2018, 09:05:54 pm »
I would agree that everything, possibly without exception, might be impermanent. However, there are hugely variable degrees of impermanence. Sub-atomic particles like the proton are estimated to have a life span of a billion, billion years or more. That sounds rather permanent, from the perspective of a human life-span.

The oldest diamonds are around 3 billion years old, and some species of trees have a life span of 5,000 years or more.

I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering. For example, desiring that your new home be constructed soundly so it will last your lifetime, resist extreme weather events, and be able to be passed on to your children, will not necessarily cause suffering.

Likewise, desiring to live a long and healthy life, within the limits of the human genome, say within 130 years, will not necessarily cause suffering if you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and make full use of palliative care options towards the end of your life, and/or accept the euthanasia options.

I have a desire for durable products in order to reduce my suffering, or more precisely, reduce my dissatisfaction and annoyance. I buy shirts made of durable, synthetic material that last many decades. The latest car I bought has an unlimited-mileage warranty of 7 years. I bought it in order to reduce any worry about unanticipated repair expenses for the next 7 years.

Of course, unanticipated accidents can happen, which is why I pay for insurance, so I have less need to suffer (worry). However, I understand that people do suffer from the effects of unanticipated events, regardless of any sensible precautions taken. If one is involved in a road accident, and one's child or spouse is killed, it's quite normal to suffer the loss, but I don't think that that suffering is necessarily based on a desire for permanency (although it might be), but rather a desire for a limited continuity of the pleasant emotional reactions with the deceased, which have been cut short.


Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 04:29:44 am »
I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Yes, and the desire for things not to change, or wear out, or whatever ( including people! ).
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 06:44:38 am »
I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Yes, and the desire for things not to change, or wear out, or whatever ( including people! ).

Like climate change.  :wink1:

I'm surprised that so many people seem unable to appreciate the fact that climate is always changing, regardless of humanity's CO2 emissions.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 06:54:30 am »

I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Strange, but I don't recall any teaching that refers to desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence leading to suffering.

Care to share your source?

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2018, 10:08:10 am »
It’s obvious there’s a strong human desire to achieve some kind of “individual” immortality. What a Joke! If we didn’t die, if things didn’t change, we’d really have a problem.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2018, 04:49:31 pm »
I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Yes, and the desire for things not to change, or wear out, or whatever ( including people! ).

Forgive me Dairy Lama, if I misunderstand but if your religion really is "ice cream" then impermanence has to be  accepted as a natural part of it. If both reality and your religion are characterised by impermanence what happens when they both melt away?

Emptiness? Aaaah! I think see!

Sounds ok. Does conversion to your religion require a constant re-evaluating of its basic tenet? Is it like Buddhism, of many flavours, or do you only advocate one. It seems as if it could become confusing if one had to keep changing from one to another. Can one opt out of some? I don't think I'd like coffee or coconut.

Please enlighten.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2018, 05:18:41 pm »

I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Strange, but I don't recall any teaching that refers to desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence leading to suffering.

Care to share your source?

My source is within the principles of the Kalama Sutta, as applied to the issue of permanence.  :wink1:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2018, 06:07:14 pm »

I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Strange, but I don't recall any teaching that refers to desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence leading to suffering.

Care to share your source?

My source is within the principles of the Kalama Sutta, as applied to the issue of permanence.  :wink1:

Hmmmm.  I think you're going to have to be a little more specific and a lot less cryptic.

OK?

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Buddha & The Impermanence of Life
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2018, 02:37:04 am »
I would say it's a desire for an unrealistic degree of permanence that is the cause of much suffering.

Yes, and the desire for things not to change, or wear out, or whatever ( including people! ).

Forgive me Dairy Lama, if I misunderstand but if your religion really is "ice cream" then impermanence has to be  accepted as a natural part of it. If both reality and your religion are characterised by impermanence what happens when they both melt away?

Emptiness? Aaaah! I think see!

Sounds ok. Does conversion to your religion require a constant re-evaluating of its basic tenet? Is it like Buddhism, of many flavours, or do you only advocate one. It seems as if it could become confusing if one had to keep changing from one to another. Can one opt out of some? I don't think I'd like coffee or coconut.

Please enlighten.

There are teachings on the Tantric Trinity of Neapolitan, but these are rather advanced.  The Pristine Purity of Vanilla is perhaps easier to swallow.   :teehee:

But seriously, ice-cream isn't a bad analogy, given it's fleeting presence once out of the freezer, the sense of transient pleasure, the aspect of guilty pleasure.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

 


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