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[personal profile] napoleonofnerds
Quick, one of you convince me that the Four Noble Truths are either ignoble or false.

Date: 2010-06-07 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
Sorry, I fail. I can't because the first three are true and noble and the fourth is a matter of faith that can be neither proven or disproven.

Date: 2010-06-07 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acern.livejournal.com
I think there's a fundamental flaw in them, in that even if suffering is created by living, so too is joy, and in assuming that you need to eliminate one you disregard the existence of the other.

Date: 2010-06-07 01:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
This is incorrect. "Suffering" (bad translation from Sanskrit/Pali) is a part of living, but Buddhism nowhere says that there is no joy and that joy is wrong. Therefore, the last part of your statement is untrue, as well.

Date: 2010-06-07 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acern.livejournal.com
Ah, let me append, then, my assumption regarding joy, which is that joy also comes from attachment. Thus, I think that one would eliminate joy when discarding all attachment.

Date: 2010-06-07 01:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
I still disagree, but I think this really comes down to word definition, as I struggled with this for years in my studying Buddhism. I think it didn't really click until very recently.

The positive definition of attachment is "embracing" or "valuing" or "appreciating." These things are good, and in most branches of Buddhism, this is very good, to appreciate and love something for who or what it truly is, completely selflessly.

But the definition of attachment that Buddhism uses is "upādāna," which is a neurotic, fear-based, and ultimately selfish clinging to something. The heart of attachment is wanting and needing something for your own satisfaction, under the illusory assumption that a. it will "complete you," b. it will always be there to make you happy/fulfilled, and c. it is there specifically to make you happy.

The opposite of a live of vicious attachment, I would be willing to say, is the state called, in Mahayana Buddhism, bodhicitta, which is a state of pure altruism. Non-attachment -- non-clinging -- is one of the ways one harvests pure, unmotivated compassion. In so doing, compassion for others brings you joy (but the joy comes in not seeking the joy for yourself but for others).

In fact, the very first stage of the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva is called "The Joyous Stage," and is defined by pure altruism and compassion rising from non-clinging. Just as in traditional Christian doctrine the absence of good is evil -- evil not being a thing in and of itself -- the absence of clinging is joy.



Date: 2010-06-07 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acern.livejournal.com
I guess the part that I really struggle with in understanding Buddhism is the concept of Nirvana... because to me it sounds empty and unfulfilling, like you've struggled to eliminate the life-y parts of life and are now living in a state of blissful tuned-out oblivion. (I really don't mean this as an attack on the religion, just as a statement that my culture (...greedy, self-centered American culture) doesn't mesh with this concept enough to let me see the point of it.)

Date: 2010-06-07 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
Oh, I totally understand. I struggle with it, too. The idea that I may one day not exist as I know it scares the shit out of me. And yet, it makes the most sense to me, just the same. It seems more in tune with science than, say, the general resurrection at the eschaton.

Date: 2010-06-07 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alasthai.livejournal.com
Given that I am not about to claim that I am vastly smarter than every Buddhist who has ever lived, such that I would be able to easily refute a belief system which they have spent millenia thinking about, I do not think that I can do that.

However, if you so wished, you could call #4 'ignoble' for being not provably true, and call #1-3 the same for being negatively motivated (like the Ten Commandments) rather than positively motivated, focusing on the bad rather than the good. That depends entirely upon your value-system for 'nobility', though: it is wholly subjective.

Date: 2010-06-07 02:40 am (UTC)
ext_3288: daisuke and riku back to back (Default)
From: [identity profile] karcy.livejournal.com
I think the structure is workable, but ultimately false and pointless. I don't really see 'eliminating suffering' as a moral good; ultimately, you do need to do practical things like forming governments and maintaining social order, in which case Buddhist governments have proven to be just as 'evil' as non-Buddhist ones. If complete detachment is the ultimate good that is to be pursued, I'll pass.

Date: 2010-06-07 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
The positive definition of attachment is "embracing" or "valuing" or "appreciating." These things are good, and in most branches of Buddhism, this is very good, to appreciate and love something for who or what it truly is, completely selflessly. What you are defining here is the negative misunderstanding of Buddhist non-attachment -- that Buddhism teaches that embracing, loving, and valuing are wrong. This is incorrect.

But the definition of attachment that Buddhism uses is "upādāna," which is a neurotic, fear-based, and ultimately selfish clinging to something. The heart of attachment is wanting and needing something for your own satisfaction, under the illusory assumption that a. it will "complete you," b. it will always be there to make you happy/fulfilled, and c. it is there specifically to make you happy.

The opposite of a live of vicious attachment, I would be willing to say, is the state called, in Mahayana Buddhism, bodhicitta, which is a state of pure altruism. Non-attachment -- non-clinging -- is one of the ways one harvests pure, unmotivated compassion. In so doing, compassion for others brings you joy (but the joy comes in not seeking the joy for yourself but for others).

In fact, the very first stage of the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva is called "The Joyous Stage," and is defined by pure altruism and compassion rising from non-clinging. Just as in traditional Christian doctrine the absence of good is evil -- evil not being a thing in and of itself -- the absence of clinging is joy.

Date: 2010-06-08 04:02 am (UTC)
ext_3288: daisuke and riku back to back (Default)
From: [identity profile] karcy.livejournal.com
"Just as in traditional Christian doctrine the absence of good is evil -- evil not being a thing in and of itself -- the absence of clinging is joy."

Right, and I'm saying that that's the thing I'll pass. I don't see the point in acquiring this 'joy'. I'd rather live a tormented life living my life, rather than live a placid life where I have inner peace but not much else. This isn't a knock on you, it's just that I'm explaining why Buddhism never worked for me.

Every religion offers a problem, and then attempts to solve it. From my personal value perspective, there's not much value in what Buddhism considers the ultimate good. It doesn't identify with what I recognize as evil, and it doesn't identify with what I recognize as good.

Beyond that, I think that Buddhism is fairly impractical, and while it is appealing in theory and certainly very good for individuals who practise it, it's just meh as a moral system for a large community, as rife with magical thinking and concepts of divine punishments as Christianity and Islam are, and enabling to evildoers at worst.

Date: 2010-06-07 06:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] garpu.livejournal.com
*shrugs*

Date: 2010-06-07 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tepintzin.livejournal.com
I'm down with the Four Noble Truths so I can't help you there.

Date: 2010-06-07 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stonecold4jesus.livejournal.com
I don't feel nearly qualified enough to give a thorough response to this, but I think the closest thing I could come to such an attempt with the time I spent thinking about is to challenge the view of suffering presented in the four noble truths. The gospels present suffering as something that is laudable and something to be accepted willingly in order to be joined more fully to Christ, who suffered...but then again, I think these instances of suffering could be relegated to matters of consequence and possibly not necessity. That's partly why I don't feel qualified here, because I'm not exactly sure what is meant by suffering in the Buddhist texts.

For Christ to suffer, I think, means for him to be so engrossed by love that he can do nothing but pour himself out to death for the sake of his beloved, the Church. To suffer in the negative sense that I think is dealt with in Buddhism, I think, is to withhold oneself from such a complete love, and fall short of accepting life in the fullness. Perhaps, then, the first noble truth can be made ignoble in that it implies that suffering is bad and should not be embraced. This, however, might only make sense for me with suffering understood in the first sense. To be clearer, I think it could be seen as ignoble because it does not acknowledge, in Christian terms, the usefulness of the transitory world of suffering in the process of salvation (though I don't think it makes it false). This could be wrong, but it's what I've got.

I think the second truth of craving being the cause of suffering might be proved false by countering with the idea that suffering is actually caused by ignorance of the truth that brings life. If this is traced, again in Christian terms, to the original sin of Adam and Eve, then you might say simply that Eve's craving and the suffering that followed was itself caused by her ignorance of the consequences and of the true nature of God. To crave something, then, itself is a result of not fully understanding why it would be wrong to crave at all. In this sense, the second noble truth might not be considered completely false, but partly.

If the above is taken as true for the second noble truth, then the same could be held when applied to the third: the cessation of suffering is actually accomplished by coming to a full understanding of the truth, without which craving is caused. Thus, the third noble truth might similarly only be proven half false.

The fourth noble truth might be proven false by considering that the eight fold path is first of all perhaps impossible to follow perfectly in this life and also that the cessation of suffering can only be brought about by knowing God perfectly, which is also impossible (or nearly so) in this life. Bearing on all of these is still the idea that there might be an additional, above-mentioned view of suffering to consider.

There's my go at it. It's by no means polished and again, I am obviously not very qualified, but I do like a good challenge ;) Your thoughts, of course, are welcome, especially where I misinterpret or misapply any of the ideas involved


Date: 2010-06-08 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kerridwyn.livejournal.com
The only thing I can tell you is that I once met a Buddhist who told me the single greatest thing about being Buddhist was that he did not have to convert anyone. He then proceeded to use the following 45 minutes to talk non-stop about how my life would be greatly improved by being Buddhist.

So, while the Four Noble Truths may not be worth ignoring, there are probably some Buddhists who are.
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