Sunday, September 7, 2014

Why is there suffering? (dukkha)

Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly
Lana is a genius who suffers with no way out but craving and delusion (

Dukkha Girl on meditation: Where I think my mind should be and where it is.
There are many theories as to why there is suffering. One popular Christian notion is called the Vale of Soul Making Theodicy.

The God wants earthlings to suffer -- so It makes life bad but does so for the purpose of making us gritty, grateful, and good. It's testing our mettle.

It's strengthening our steel. It's hard to think of a God like that, so most Christians personalize Him. And we talk back and say, "Hey, Almighty, what the flying luck are you thinking? What are you doing to me down here?"
    I'll smite all these sinners! - Oh, dad!
  • In 1998, Jewish theologian Zachary Braiterman coined the term anti-theodicy in his book (God) After Auschwitz to describe Jews, both in a biblical and post-Holocaust context, whose response to the problem of evil is protest and refusal to investigate the relationship between God and suffering. An anti-theodicy acts in opposition to a theodicy and places full blame for all experience of evil onto God, but must rise from an individual's belief in and love of God. Anti-theodicy has been likened to Job's protests in the Book of Job. More
An elegant theory emerges from the science of evolutionary biology: The purpose of life is to perpetuate itself. So all it cares about is getting the gene pool into the future. So it is concerns with fitness -- BUT only until offspring are produced. What happens to beings after that, who cares?

Darwin was misrepresented to be all about "survival of the fittest," which does not mean surviving for life but only surviving into the genetic future. We might be killed by a saber toothed tiger, and that would be fine with evolution and the genes so long as we had already produced offspring. 

Christianity, Biology, or Buddhism? 
Born to Die in a Dark Paradise, Ultraviolence victim Lana Del Rey
Therefore, and this is the brilliant thing, it (the impersonal process of evolution and fitness) needs to keep us fit only until then. What comes BEFORE childbirth, our producing of offspring? Life, health, beauty, vitality, and virile happiness. 
What comes AFTER childbirth, after we've served our purpose so far as evolution is concerned? Old age, sickness, suffering, and death, impotent sadness.
We've served our purpose, expended ourselves: Thank you, come again. The bad news is we do come again, and again, and again.

Oh no, not suffering again! (Ajahn-Chah)
While a human life is extraordinarily world, life itself is extremely common. Only fully enlightened beings make an end of all suffering and rebirth. Most beings, fearing that rebirth (and suffering, happiness, and everything else beings identify with in our delusion) would ever end, CLING to continued becoming, to renewal of being, to rebirth. So the suffering continues.

What is the source of suffering (dukkha)? In Buddhist perspective it has multiple causes, but fundamentally its cause is ignorance, delusion, wrong view, nescience, not knowing, not understanding. The roots of all bad karma, all unskillful action that will eventually produce an unwelcome result, are greed (craving), aversion (hate, fear), and delusion (ignorance).
It sticks on the skin and goes into the flesh; from the flesh, it gets into the bones. It's like an insect on a tree that eats through the bark, into the wood, and then into the core -- until finally the tree dies. We've grown up like that. It gets buried deep inside. Our parents taught us grasping and attachment, giving meaning to things, believing firmly that we exist as a self-entity and that things belong to us. From our birth, that's what we are taught. We hear this over and over again, and it penetrates our hearts and stays there as a habitual feeling. We're taught to get things, to accumulate, and hold on to them... More

The Secondary Cause of Suffering
Girl with green greedy eyes cries (, Rape at BJU/thinkstock/shutterstock)
The CAUSE of suffering? But I thought Buddhists blamed "desire"?
[No, the reason the Buddha focused on "desire" or "craving" (literally, intense thirst) is because that is the one thing in the 12 causal links of dependently-originated suffering that we can easily do something about. Enlightenment will undo ignorance, but we can't get their directly.]
After the Buddha learned that suffering is a part of life, he realized he could not find a way to end suffering without finding out what causes it.

Buddhists study that the Buddha learned this just like a doctor learns about what's wrong with patients by listing their symptoms, finding out what makes them worse, and studying other cases before prescribing a cure.

By watching people the Buddha found out that the causes of suffering are craving or desire, and ignorance [in addition to their other consequence, aversion]. The power of these things to cause ALL suffering is what Buddhists call the Second Noble Truth.  Craving?  What are things we crave for? More

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