Sicilian1's Blog

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sicilian1: Buddhism: An Assessment

     Buddhists might say that the only way to reach nirvana is to understand that there is no self. That sounds negative right? But Buddhism is a deep existential inquiry into you as a human being. One must relize that there is no self-salvation. That sounds selfish, right? But only upon realization of anatman can one live in accordance with everything in the world.

   The Buddha’s first noble truth is the existence of dukkha which is a deep dissatisfaction with the suffering inherent in life. Dukkha is experienced through physical pain, experiential pain and finally a deep existential pain leading to emptiness. To combat this we as humans try to fill the void with abstract ideas of goodness, virtues, Gods/gods and worst of all our ego.

    Our problem is that we never realize anitya. Absolutely nothing in this world is forever even from second-to-second. There are only momentary, fleeting spurts of both happiness and sadness. Our desire to make these impermanent constructs and abstracts eternal, our attempts to create situations and manipulate people among other selfish devices so that we get the favorable results we desire is what ultimately leads to the cycle of trsna. “I” desire so “I” attempt to satisfy that desire so “I” can be happy without realizing my happiness is anitya causing me further dukkha leading to the vicious cycle of trsna.

     In our quest for nirvana we must realize pratitya samutpada, meaning the whole world and everything in it is interconnected in an overlapping, unseperated, interdepent way. That we are atomistic or autonmous is an illusion. Pratitya Samutpada becomes a tool to realizing anatman. A practical way to start is by eliminating the “I” from all sentences. Once the subject “I” is removed the the action of the verb is also eliminated. In the larger scheme it becomes not about how “this” will affect “I” but how “this will affect everything. Anatman and pratitya samutpada must go hand and hand or else the events, circumstances and actions of others and things will always determine your existence (Attachment) when the idea is to realize your actions, circumstances and events determine the existence of others affect your life. But to live anatman you laugh or cry for others because you are connected to their joy and pain. You feel the emotion for the emotion alone not feel it through the prism of your own reality. This experience of anatman is the experience of sati; an elimination of the filters, concepts and attachments through which we view the world allowing us to have a direct experience with reality. This union leads to a purification because at this point there is no choice but to act morally, ethically and compassionately because all abstract codes and hopes of karmic deliverance have been eliminated from ones options of both choice and inquiry.

   This is theoretical nirvana but unlike the generic understanding of a blissful end, that you have reached the final destination, Buddhist teaching will tell us nirvana is only the beginning. It becomes a perpetual awareness of the moment. But nirvana poses a problem because it leads to sunyata; a feeling of emptiness. Because everything is anitya how can nirvana not be? But one must embrace their sunyata because it is further liberation. Once one accepts that even nirvana is anitya they will truly never desire any attachments because they are all sunyata. One now lives in a perpetual state of sati, where their anatman is pure allowing all their actions to be intuitively moral, ethical and compassionate without being driven by karma because pratitya samutpada is now at the core of their being and there are no such thing as attachments.

    The Buddha wasn’t giving any definitive answers about the human condition. He was raising questions so that mankind could improve their own condition. Since everything is pratitya samutpada and there may be no self, meaning ego and selfishness should not factor in our decisions, the overall condition of mankindand the world as a whole should improve as a matter of evolution. Once the world realizes that then everyone is enlightened and if there is a nirvana then the world can live it.

       Having said all that the Buddha would have probably replied; who ever said there was no self.

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June 11, 2009 - Posted by | blog, culture, Life, people, personal, philosohy, random, religion, thoughts

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