Human Life - Suffering?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

alex717
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 10:04 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Why must that be seen as a negative?

One thing I dislike about Buddhism (though this is not universal) is asceticism. Interestingly or not, the ascetic ideal exists in Christianity as well. (Yes, it also exists in every other major religion, even Judaism to some degree, but seldom to the degree of virtue that it's held in Buddhism and in Christianity).

The problem with asceticism is that it eschews anything having to do with our flesh. And because of this, it's grossly inauthentic -- it denies the inescapable reality that (at least) for our lives, we are 100% indivisible from our bodies -- and our bodies in Western religions are a creation of God.

So the only theological justification for seeing our needs negatively would be to interpret our bodies as nothing but a cruel test by God.

And I have to reject that argument. I think the physical world, including our bodies, are best interpreted as a creation and even a gift from God. And to reject our needs and our wants would be to live in denial.


I'm not rejecting our needs or wants, I said to be as self-sustainable as possible, hence staying away from overbearing wants, such as addiction (wants are hardly always good). The reason for this is many become depressed without 'things', when if they were just more spiritually in depth they could live a fulfilling life without needing material/superficial 'things'. And yes, life is a gift, but the base of it, I believe it is negative, in that we are in NEED, from birth, and NEED to me is negative. If you believe in God, then the greatest gift would be in eternal flux with him (or whatever suits your faith's fancy), not here on earth surrounded by evil.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 10:30 pm
@alex717,
alex717;39526 wrote:
life is a gift, but the base of it, I believe it is negative, in that we are in NEED, from birth, and NEED to me is negative.
I can see want as a negative (though I personally don't)... But I cannot see need as a negative any more than I can see birds and trees as a negative.

Quote:
If you believe in God, then the greatest gift would be in eternal flux with him (or whatever suits your faith's fancy), not here on earth surrounded by evil.
I don't think everyone who believes in God would accept that. I mean can't you entertain that being here on earth is a gift that allows you to help others?

To want to be in eternal flux with God seems escapist to me -- it seems to express a desire to be static, and with no needs there can be no responsibility.
 
alex717
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 11:59 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
I can see want as a negative (though I personally don't)... But I cannot see need as a negative any more than I can see birds and trees as a negative.

I don't think everyone who believes in God would accept that. I mean can't you entertain that being here on earth is a gift that allows you to help others?

To want to be in eternal flux with God seems escapist to me -- it seems to express a desire to be static, and with no needs there can be no responsibility.


Well, the eternal flux was just a rendition of heaven, I wouldn't personally want any responsibility in heaven, but to each his own. I think life on earth is more to just show God that your a worthy soul. And the only way to do that is to simulate you in a place that their is both good and evil (assuming there is no evil with God). So, while your on earth, to be a worthy as a mortal, you must show God your obedience (you follow his plan). This would consist of withstanding temptation and over indulgence, acknowledging yourself as his follower (acknowledging your not as great or greater, nor can you ever be), and then finally, actually fulfilling your obligations to your fellow humans (see children in Africa.. lol jk). Now, surely we can meet somewhere.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 09:30 am
@alex717,
alex717 wrote:
Now, surely we can meet somewhere.
Probably not in that I don't believe in God, and I certainly don't believe in heaven and afterlives. Religion is a cultural practice, and in my mind it's most productive to think of God and the afterlife as allegorical and not literal.

And speaking as someone who HAS gone and helped children in Africa on three separate medical trips, I see the good in this as an end in itself, and I believe that because I value the lives of those people.

I don't do it to impress God -- the problem with pleasing God as a motivation is that it requires an individualistic interpretation of what God wants. And it's not just Mother Theresa who has had a say in this matter -- it's also been people who bomb abortion clinics, suicide bombers, crusaders who have led pogroms against jews, etc.

We don't KNOW what God wants. But we know what humans want and need. And attending to human needs must be a good unto itself.

As Albert Camus said in The Plague, "Who would dare assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment of human suffering?"
 
alex717
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 12:39 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Probably not in that I don't believe in God, and I certainly don't believe in heaven and afterlives. Religion is a cultural practice, and in my mind it's most productive to think of God and the afterlife as allegorical and not literal.

And speaking as someone who HAS gone and helped children in Africa on three separate medical trips, I see the good in this as an end in itself, and I believe that because I value the lives of those people.

I don't do it to impress God -- the problem with pleasing God as a motivation is that it requires an individualistic interpretation of what God wants. And it's not just Mother Theresa who has had a say in this matter -- it's also been people who bomb abortion clinics, suicide bombers, crusaders who have led pogroms against jews, etc.

We don't KNOW what God wants. But we know what humans want and need. And attending to human needs must be a good unto itself.

As Albert Camus said in The Plague, "Who would dare assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment of human suffering?"


Well, you figure out what God wants in the same way you do whats right. You assume God is absolutely moral and acts with the most precise reason, hence so you live your life under a moral structure construct to fit those certain attributes. And, I'm glad to hear you went over and helped, however not everyone has the money or time to do that, congrats :whistling:....
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 01:26 pm
@alex717,
alex717;39585 wrote:
You assume God is absolutely moral and acts with the most precise reason, hence so you live your life under a moral structure construct to fit those certain attributes.
But you can't figure this out 100% independently -- you need to have an eye to ALL humanity; otherwise how can you trust yourself? I mean even if all humanity were to agree that God was absolutely moral and absolutely logical (the latter being redundant if he created existence), that still doesn't mean all humanity would agree on what God wants.

Quote:
And, I'm glad to hear you went over and helped, however not everyone has the money or time to do that, congrats :whistling:....
It's my career -- but there are other ways to help other people without money. An enormous start is to validate their needs -- that is the basis of empathy, and empathy is what allows us to have a shared experience here on earth.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 05:44 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:

The problem with asceticism is that it eschews anything having to do with our flesh. And because of this, it's grossly inauthentic -- it denies the inescapable reality that (at least) for our lives, we are 100% indivisible from our bodies -- and our bodies in Western religions are a creation of God.


I disagree with your take on Buddhist asceticism. Remember, the Buddha rejected the extreme asceticism of his youth in favor of a moderate path. The Buddhist asceticism isn't a denial of anything having to do with our flesh, but is instead a practice of abstaining from unnecessary indulgence. Unlike many ascetics, eating a healthy meal is not frowned upon - overconsumption and what one choses to consume are the focus.

Aedes wrote:
And I have to reject that argument. I think the physical world, including our bodies, are best interpreted as a creation and even a gift from God. And to reject our needs and our wants would be to live in denial.


What you say here seems to be in line with Buddhist asceticism. Buddhists typically maintain that incarnation as a human is better than incarnation as anything else, including incarnation as a God, because humans are most capable of enlightenment. Thus, the human form is something to be treasured. This is why extreme asceticism is not typically promoted by Buddhism because those practices are harmful to the flesh; better to stay healthy and keep up your practice than starve yourself.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 08:37 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;39622 wrote:
I disagree with your take on Buddhist asceticism. Remember, the Buddha rejected the extreme asceticism of his youth in favor of a moderate path.
Some traditions within Buddhism are predominantly ascetic, though. Take a trip to Kyoto and you'll see several hundred temples in which this is overt, especially in the Zen temples. And Theravada Buddhism (the most "ancestral" of modern Buddhist traditions) is also heavily ascetic.

Quote:
The Buddhist asceticism isn't a denial of anything having to do with our flesh, but is instead a practice of abstaining from unnecessary indulgence.
But that is also true of the monastic tradition in Christianity. The theology seems to have more to do with temptation than with flesh.

Quote:
This is why extreme asceticism is not typically promoted by Buddhism because those practices are harmful to the flesh; better to stay healthy and keep up your practice than starve yourself.
I wasn't referring to extreme asceticism -- just asceticism in general.

We don't call it asceticism in Judaism, but strictly speaking the way one has to live to follow all the rules of kashrut and all the rules of the sabbath are a type of asceticism. But similarly, maintaining health is valued over things like fasting.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 08:45 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Some traditions within Buddhism are predominantly ascetic, though. Take a trip to Kyoto and you'll see several hundred temples in which this is overt, especially in the Zen temples. And Theravada Buddhism (the most "ancestral" of modern Buddhist traditions) is also heavily ascetic.


Sure, they can be ascetic, but being ascetic doesn't mean that one "eschews anything having to do with our flesh".

Aedes wrote:
But that is also true of the monastic tradition in Christianity. The theology seems to have more to do with temptation than with flesh.


Right, and in both cases, the flesh isn't ignored, it's managed in such a way that desires of the flesh do not dominate one's thought. The asceticism is more about meeting the basic needs of the flesh without over indulging.

I'm having a hard time seeing Christian and Buddhist, even Jewish and Islamic asceticism as inauthentic. They do not deny the flesh entirely, they manage the flesh.

With respect to the Buddhist tradition, the human form is highly prized. It is a great gift. One not to be taken lightly. I agree whole heartedly with your criticism of asceticism in the extreme forms of asceticism, but I do not see how they hold up against the Buddhist tradition of asceticism and the typical Christian tradition of asceticism in monastic life.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 09:00 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I still think that if it's not inauthentic, it's at the least contrived to manufacture a very artificial lifestyle to avoid the bare reality of how we live and relate to each other.

The ethical philosophy of moderation, as Aristotle might champion, does not condone asceticism (and I don't mean extreme asceticism).

It condones judgement.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 09:07 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
I still think that if it's not inauthentic, it's at the least contrived to manufacture a very artificial lifestyle to avoid the bare reality of how we live and relate to each other.


A large question, but, how so?

Sure, the asceticism is contrived - it's a difficult way of life with a particular purpose; but artificial... I'm having trouble with that notion. Asceticism is certainly different from the way in which most people live, but is that really a negative? The ascetic can still live with others and relate to others.

Aedes wrote:
The ethical philosophy of moderation, as Aristotle might champion, does not condone asceticism (and I don't mean extreme asceticism).

It condones judgement.


Isn't that precisely what the Buddhist/Christian asceticism amounts to, though, judgment? I get the feeling I'm missing something.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 09:59 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;39634 wrote:
Isn't that precisely what the Buddhist/Christian asceticism amounts to, though, judgment?
No more so than military discipline amounts to judgement.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 10:13 pm
@Aedes,
Military discipline does amount to judgment, but isn't there still a difference? Military discipline is contrived to produce a killing machine whereas Buddhist/Christian asceticism is contrived to produce a compassionate and thoughtful individual.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 10:20 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;39637 wrote:
Military discipline is contrived to produce a killing machine whereas Buddhist/Christian asceticism is contrived to produce a compassionate and thoughtful individual.
I don't think that either the administrators nor the soldiers in an army conceive of themselves as "a killing machine" -- I think they conceive of themselves as willing to sacrifice themselves to achieve a moral good. Yes, they are corruptible and can be poorly led and in practice may be killing machines, but that's hardly the point.

And in religious asceticism, perhaps coincidentally, the notion of sacrifice for a moral good is ALSO central.

As for judgement, since participation in the institution is contingent upon following certain rules (be the institution monastic, military, or a non-monastic religious community), judgement is limited.
 
the wise one phil
 
Reply Thu 7 May, 2009 08:42 pm
@alex717,
humanity do not deserve to suffer the pains and suffering in life is ubbearable many are prefering death than life because life is pain to be alive is to live to endure the pains of life i hate suffering, i hate sickness, i hate poverty, i hate pain, and i hate death it is only a fool that have to go through the school of hard knock to learn humanity is not a fool God see humanity as a fool and he treat humanity like a fool i think God is a distator he is merciless he have no human feeling .
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 02:30 pm
@alex717,
alex717 wrote:
According to many eastern religions, life is suffering. I want, with all of your help as well, to examine an idea I had that I just kind of slipped into through an impulse, so I decided to share, therefore it might not be worth your while. Fair warning.

Now, our life begins, we are essentially given life. That is a positive, however for life to sustain itself, it needs many things. Shelter, food, water, interaction, etc. So the human born, is essentially, in the negative, in the sense that we discard all assumptions of interaction from parents and etc... So in doing this we find that the human is in the negative because it cannot sustain life without the positives that are, through human nature or not, brought into their life.

Now in expanding this, humans also to be healthy need other humans, another positive gain. They need some sense of purpose to do things, even if it is simply sustainability. And as we all know, nowadays especially, we require much much more. So in adding all these positives in our lives all the time, we replace negatives that naturally exist with us in life, perhaps our creator or nature, sure, may have intended parents or other humans to take care of a new born, but by ourselves, we are essentially in the negative at birth.

Therefore, once these people may leave our lives or if we just age, we of course become individuals with more complex psychological needs. If we are always supplementing ourselves positives to suppress the negative, we can come to the conclusion that life itself is suffering, from that which we must create our own comfort. Through whatever that may be. I would suggest that primarily having purposeful things in your life that cannot be taken from you by nature, to avoid or combat the suffering. Perhaps, as the Buddhists believe, you should experience within yourself, your ego's death, and without the ego's oppression, you then can become content.

Thoughts?


Misfortune is just as much a part of life as fortune. We have control over our own behavior and this can help to diminish unnecessary suffering, but some misfortunes are beyond our control. Misfortunes of nature, such as health ailments, are sometimes beyond our behavioral control. Other misfortunes, like those induced by other persons, should be rebelled against, but our ability to do so can also be limited. The best virtues to posses in order to withstand misfortune of all kinds are wisdom and fortitude. The combination of these virtues yield an optimism with substance, unlike faith in the supernatural.

I would also say that we should posses the virtue of temperance in order to reduce suffering caused by the ego. Self-interest is fine as long as it does not conflict with the good. Excess self-interest and ego leads to greed, which has great potential to induce badness and thus suffering.

*Is this subject for metaphysics or ethics? I know that there is a relationship between the two fields in metaethics, but this subject isn't metaethical.*
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 04:33 pm
@alex717,
I just wanted to post something to get a thanks from No0ne. Sorry to interupt.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Mon 18 May, 2009 01:23 pm
@alex717,
There is suffering becuase suffering is necessary

We could not enjoy sitting in front of a warm fire if there were no cold,we could never know love without its opposite hate, how could we appreciate the light of day, if there were no night?, how could we comprehend being pain free in we never experience pain?,

Or the sexual orgasm , if we had no other human pleasure to relate it to.

Suffering is the school to wisdom. Suffering allows humans to evolve and become higher more evolved entities

Indeed I think evolution is a process of overcoming suffering
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 08:08 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
There is suffering becuase suffering is necessary

We could not enjoy sitting in front of a warm fire if there were no cold,we could never know love without its opposite hate, how could we appreciate the light of day, if there were no night?, how could we comprehend being pain free in we never experience pain?,

Or the sexual orgasm , if we had no other human pleasure to relate it to.

Suffering is the school to wisdom. Suffering allows humans to evolve and become higher more evolved entities

Indeed I think evolution is a process of overcoming suffering


I agree that through suffering you can learn more appreciation for the things that please you. Suffering can be transformed into something positive. However, I disagree with the belief that happiness entails suffering. You don't need hate to appreciate love. A human child can appreciate love without ever experiencing hatred. Even saying that we couldn't appreciate the light of day without the darkness of night doesn't seem to be grounded in truth. This is all very rhetorical, but I'm not sure that it's grounded in facts.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 09:37 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
I agree that through suffering you can learn more appreciation for the things that please you. Suffering can be transformed into something positive. However, I disagree with the belief that happiness entails suffering. You don't need hate to appreciate love. A human child can appreciate love without ever experiencing hatred. Even saying that we couldn't appreciate the light of day without the darkness of night doesn't seem to be grounded in truth. This is all very rhetorical, but I'm not sure that it's grounded in facts.


Nice response we meet each other half way, appreciate the others point of view and embrace them into ourselves, if we resonate with them
 
 

 
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 08/03/2020 at 12:51:30