Author Topic: What about things that don't suffer?  (Read 1420 times)

Offline EgHelsarSola

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What about things that don't suffer?
« on: March 23, 2015, 04:15:39 pm »
I've read a lot about Buddhism the last year and love it. But there is this thing I don't understand. The first noble truth teaches that there is suffering, or that conditioned existence is suffering. This is indeed true for  most of us, but seemingly not all. I know what you think; How can he even question the whole foundation of Dhamma? Well I'm not questioning it, but have a question about it.

Not all creature are as complex as we humans that is for sure. So can the 5 Khandas be true for things like bacteria and jellyfish? They are really simple beings so it seems they are not able to feel emotions and such. A jelly fish kinda just floats around, it has no brain so it can not store memories, thus always live in the now. It doesn't really do anything. So do the jellyfish, or other similar cases, suffer?  If not then what is the case for these creatures, are they in constant bliss? 

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 04:44:02 pm »
There's different opinions on this --- for example the following comes from the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Canada:

Almost all organisms, including bacteria, will attempt to escape from an aversive stimulus.  Because bacteria are not thought to be capable of feeling pain (e.g. they lack a nervous system), possessing an escape response to an aversive stimulus is not enough evidence to demonstrate that a species is capable of feeling pain.  To infer that a non-human vertebrate (mammals, birds and reptiles) is in pain, researchers rely on the vocalizations and physiological responses (e.g. the release of stress hormones) that an animal produces when faced with an aversive stimulus.  Because these responses are similar to our own when we are in pain, researchers argue that, by analogy, animals showing these responses are also in pain.  This technique cannot be used with invertebrates.  Invertebrate physiology is different from our own.  The invertebrates diverged from that of vertebrates hundreds of millions of years ago.

more here >>> http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/372/lega/witn/shelly-e.htm


On the other hand, scientists have long believed that crabs don't feel pain because they lack the biology to do so, but there's new studies that appear to call this into question:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/crabs-feel-pain-new-study_n_2496841.html


Offline Nils Horn

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2015, 01:12:12 am »
I know my former lives. The first life I know is a water flea. Then I became a fish, an animal and a man. I know about 2000 former lives. In most of them I was an insect. I can see, that I almost strived for happiness. At least for enlightenment. There was always the feeling of suffering, that I am not in my goal. If you know enlightenment, you see the attachment and the suffering of all unenlightened beings. But the suffering is very different. Some suffer more and some suffer less. The more you suffer, the more you want liberation.
May all people be happy. May the world be happy.

Offline Boris

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2015, 06:51:35 am »
While we have no proof that bacteria "suffers" we have no proof of the opposite. The fact that the bacteria will try to move away from the "unpleasant" experience suggest that it is trying to avoid it. Granted that it does not means if "suffers", all it means it is trying to avoid it.
In Buddhism as in any system (it can be religion, philosophy, science, etc) we have "postulates", the corner stones that are commonly accepted.
Until proven otherwise they stay. More we built on these stones, more the proof that our assumption was correct.
If we find an exception (and for the last 2500 years we did not), it has to be ether explained or the new theory has to be proposed to count for the found phenomena. One of the standard examples is classical (Newtonian physics). It worked perfectly well for some 300 years until several phenomena were found that gave the need for theory of relativity and quantum mechanics....

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 11:41:30 am »
A "postulate" is a statement that is assumed to be true without proof, whereas a "theorem" is a true statement that can be proven.

Offline Boris

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2015, 01:03:02 pm »
Agreed. Postulate or axiom are the statements that are accepted without a proof. In Buddhism First Noble Truth is the truth of suffering. We accept the fact that life has suffering without any proof. The statement seem to be self evident and I don't argue with it, but the First Noble Truth is accepted without proof therefore it is a postulate.
Nothing is wrong with that, but there is no guarantee that sometime in the future we will discover a being without suffering. As a matter of fact would not be Buddha one?
 :om:

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2015, 04:35:21 pm »
No, the first Noble Truth is the truth of dukkha, where you have not only settled for "suffering" as an appropriate translation of the term, but you have also applied your own definition of what it means to suffer. Although dukkha is commonly translated as "suffering", it would be more appropriate to translate the term as "unsatisfactoriness".

The fact that the bacteria will try to move away from the "unpleasant" experience would also suggest that it is trying to avoid something deemed unsatisfactory.

Offline Boris

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Re: What about things that don't suffer?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2015, 05:02:23 am »
Agreed. But the fact that bacteria is moving away from unsatisfactory experience because it is unsatisfactory we accept as an explanation only because we don't have any other one.
My teacher says: "it takes only one black sheep to proof that the statement 'All sheep are white" is wrong". She is right, isn't she?  :)
And I thought I did bring up the example of the being that does not suffer:  :buddha2:
I'm sorry, I am a relative newbie when it comes to Buddhism, so forgive me if my statements are heretical.  :)

 


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