Dear Aston

I refer to your post.

Just like to share my bit when you say the fundamental principle of Buddhist thought has always been in ending Attachment. Not necessarily so.

Actually Buddha did not mean all forms of Attachment. It doesn’t mean just give up Attachment and do what we like.

The Attachment which we need to give up are the selfish cravings for the ephemeral pleasures of the world, wherein lies the origins of suffering.

In fact, the teachings refer to Attachment to worldly affairs, as opposed to severance, in activities such as politics and economics so as to have a sense of appreciation of the things around us, for only then Buddhist wisdom may be actualised. That’s one aspect.

You also see Buddhist Scriptures encapsulate manifold wisdom not only to withstand life’s adversities but also to transform them into causes of happiness and joy. This is because the philosophy enshrines peace, compassion, selflessness and universal love as fundamental virtues.

Though the term “prayer” is used in Buddhism, in one sense however Buddhism may be regarded as being distinctly atheistic, purely because it holds the key (known as Enlightenment) to the mystery of the mysteries of the Universe(s) or Multiverse(s) which are in remarkable accord with discoveries of modern science, including the origins of life.

The whole purpose is to dispel ignorance so that human beings as creatures of the cosmos understand it at its most deepest and profound level. Yet it teaches us to respect the views of other beliefs, because it emphasises right thinking and right actions in a multicultural and multireligious society.

4 replies on “Buddhism and Life”

  1. The Buddhist spirit has always been shared learning together. Buddha was very accommodating of skeptics during his time. The skeptics were considered as inquirers or persons with a seeking mind in his teachings (all in all 84,000 volumes of sutras). The reason behind this is to understand skeptical doubts, so that every vista of knowledge can stand up to analysis, free of prejudices,and fallacies. Just about everything is considered in a Buddhist Analysis.

    As the British historian, the late Arnold Toynbee, says:

    "The Buddhist analysis of the dynamics of life….is more detailed and subtle than any Western analysis that I know of".

    The Buddhist Spirit of a seeking mind is still very much alive in any Buddhist discourse today.

    Broadly speaking, the Buddhist Analysis of Life starts with the subjective life of the human being and then works outwards through society and the physical environment to, ultimately the entire universe.

    In Buddhist parlance the human being is a make-up of real changeability; it is theoretically possible to analyse in even more minute detail the myriad changes we experience within ourselves from moment to moment. Buddhism teaches that one's mind fluctuates 840 million times a day. So one's life is a succession of momentary instances of doubt, delight, sadness, happiness, elation, disappointment, anger, and other conditions. Rather than to enumerate these 840 million changes, Buddhism postulates the Doctrine of the Ten Worlds which encapsulate all these ever change-abilities, which broadly comprise Hell, Hunger, Animal-ity, Anger, Tranquility, Rapture, Learning, Realisation, Bodhisattva and Buddhahood.

    All these categories are mutually inclusive, meaning each condition latently contains the other nine also and are capable of manifesting at any moment.

    Furthermore each condition contains its unique qualities, nuances and variations thus making for the huge number 840 million.

    Each condition basically has an enlightened or delusional aspect. Take for example Anger, people normally judge it as bad, but Anger does have its positive or enlightened functions. An example to illustrate this would be if lawyers did not express some form of anger in such as "The Walk For Justice" one would not have expected the setting up of a Judicial Inquiry to determine the truth.

    Why should one suppress his cravings, subdue one's yearning and hence deprive the full experience of the senses. The world of Hunger is the repository where cravings are dominant. A craving is a strong desire for something. The most fundamental cravings such as food, warmth, sleep, love, for example underpin a simple desire to continue living and are normally not suppressed, ephemeral though it may be for the thing craved.

    But the delusional aspect of craving is a problem and needs to be controlled as opposed to suppressed. Obsession for example, can completely distort one's perspective on reality. The need to satisfy an obsessive desire obliterates all other considerations so that one's capacity to make sound judgments is severely restricted. Passionate love often falls into this category as the age-old saying that 'love is blind' suggests. The obsession with greed is another example of unbridled craving to make megabucks at the expense of destruction of the natural environment, earmarking Orang Asli land and substantially defacing their character, thus disturbing the eco-system and disrupting photosynthesis leading to more lung cancer cases as a result of environmental pollution.

    I dare say that assumption is the enemy of every serious Buddhist practitioner. The Buddha's unsurpassed wisdom, immeasurable mercy, unlimited eloquence, power, fearlessness, concentration, and enlightened nature, makes him ironically just an ordinary person who understands human nature perfectly yet he doesn't easily make assumptions or pass judgments on others. Most of the time, he practiced humaneness and compassion.

    The story of Anguimala, a thief, robber, murderer, rapist, plunderer, you name it, tells us how this man was turned over to be his follower and disciple after being touched by the humaneness of the Enlightened One. No miracles, no supernatural acts according to the Scriptures. So it is in order to say a genuine Buddhist practitioner will not assume that a man will not have the will to detach himself from a pleasure he once engaged.

    While some illegal drugs provide bountiful happiness as a cure for depression and as an analgesic, somewhere along that line 2500 years ago Buddha performed surgery, and used alcohol discreetly as an anesthetic on his followers such as the crippled and wounded, to reduce pain and suffering. It's a question of looking into the abuse issue if we can legalise drugs for medicinal purposes.

    Even though one can be a sadomasochist, gay, lesbian, homosexual, Buddhism still treats these persons as human beings. I can't think of one case where Buddhism makes a moral judgment on this. It is because Buddhism looks at life very differently from other belief systems – from the grand design concept of Karma. It's another very complicated and detailed concept though it sounds simple. Much intellectualising and intense debate on Karma have raged on for years but I will leave this subject here first.

    Many values in Buddhism overlap with human rights. It's one but not the only reason I am involved in the BC's HRC.

  2. Detachment in Buddhism does not mean common sense 'detachment' of avoiding worldly possessions or avoiding certain human activities.

    Spiritual detachment is a state of mind where one's ego (not eliminated) is modulated in one activities.

    The laymen can still own whatever worldly possessions and do whatever that is positive, but they must be mindful not to be overly possesive or fanatical over the things they own or do. They must 'detach' their lower animal-mind from controlling one's possesions or activities.

    For example, it is necessary for one to buy a reasonable car for the purpose of travelling. But for someone who is overly possesive of his new car (or other possessions), a small scratch will bring a lot of 'heart pain'. i.e. stress (sufferings).

    In Hinduism, the Gita advised not to focus on the fruits of action. If an athlete were to think of all the pride, rewards and winning the race before the event, it is likely that he/she will not have a sustaining successful career. As such it important to detach from one lower mind and focus on the job.

    One can still desire sex, but do not allow it to turn to lust or an addiction.

  3. I cant agree more with you Chan.In Hinduism we call it 'detachment'.Means detaching oneself from worldy possessions and cravings and embrace a spiritual life.Hinduism as in Buddhism which are essentially the same, also emphasizes the importance of a family institution and the responsibilities of a man to discharge his duties to his family,friends and humanity.It also teaches one to respect the job one has.In fact there is an old saying in Tamil ie 'one's job is akin to god' means one must respect and love one's job the way he respects and love god.Aston got the whole subject muddled up.

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