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Aside from ending suffering, encouraging compassionate action and leading one to nirvanna, is there anything that Buddhism promotes, or says is good?

The reason that I ask is because in another recent question I asked about musical composers, and as I look around at related questions, I find that dance, singing and listening to music seem to go against the 7th Precept. I am not aware of any sutras promoting art or creativity, other than skillful actions and insightful discourse. It seems pretty flat to me, but I cannot find fault with it.

As a person who has always danced and listened to music, and sometimes draws or paints, I am wondering just what we should be doing with our "one wild and precious life"? (Assuming that this is the last one.) Is life good in itself, once cleared of defilements? Can it not be enjoyed - meaning that something worthwhile is done that uplifts self and others?

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In one of the teachings I received, there is this concept of Five Joys:

  1. The joy of having your basic needs satisfied (food, shelter, safety).
  2. The (higher) joy of material comfort and sensual enjoyment.
  3. The (even higher) joy of professional/creative realization.
  4. The (very high) joy of helping society: teaching, healing.
  5. The (highest) joy of Enlightenment.

So assuming you're in your 50s and done with the first three, I suppose you can derive joy from helping the less lucky ones?

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is there anything that Buddhism promotes, or says is good?

Buddhism promotes the well being of oneself and others or general good of society inclusive of onself.

“Guarding oneself, one protects others.” “Guarding others, one protects oneself.” - Sedaka Sutta

dance, singing and listening to music seem to go against the 7th Precept.

This is not interested for general householder. Generally you can enjoy the what this though it is called non pure. Also the joy of renunciation or joy born from parting from seeking sensual objects is considered pure. Extensive discussion see: Vedanā (Feeling): A study of the 2nd aggregate - Theme: A reflection on the Datthabba Sutta by Piya Tan

... Is life good in itself, once cleared of defilements? Can it not be enjoyed ...

You have the joy and pleasure of renunciation. This is pure and considered more pleasurable. You have eliminated all avenues on which you can become unhappy, stressed or sad, hence you are joyful and happy person who can truly enjoy life.

  • Once you have renunciation, then what? What is a good thing to do with life at age 50? – user2341 Dec 11 '15 at 12:54
  • Renunciation has is not taking delight in what you see, hear, .... The most common method to do this is going forth. When you do not delight in what is experienced bad experiences cannot hurt you also when positive experiences end. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Dec 11 '15 at 13:35
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Your question is very broad, with multiple aspects and many possible answers. I will just address one aspect. In the Pali Canon we do find a tradition of spontaneous ecstatic poetry, uttered at significant moments in order to express a realization or insight, especially in the Theragatha and the Therigatha but also in the suttas. This traditon developed into the Tibetan mahasiddhi tradition where spontaneous utterances puntuated ganachakras, or "tantric feasts," which in turn has analogies with the uposatha, properly the eve of the soma festival that the Buddha adapted to the sangha. The verbal expression of poetry is, of course, an aesthetic act, which seems to be what your question is about. Zen koans might also be said to have an aesthetic aspect, and of course one has the highly refined Buddhist aesthetics of China and Japan, also related to Zen.

  • Rumi is similar, and Milarepa's spontaneously uttered songs come to mind. This is similar to "spontaneous appropriate action", but verbal. Perhaps there is room for well-made paintings or dance also? – user2341 Dec 11 '15 at 21:03
  • Thangkas in the Tibetan tradition. – user4970 Dec 12 '15 at 23:26

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