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I was wondering something. Basically, I was wondering whether sensations, such as suffering:

(1) naturally occur within the person, as pleasure and pain, or happiness and suffering, and it is their exacerbation which people call, for example, suffering. So, a person in mundane life experiences a plethora of sensations which, when a single feeling dominates, becomes joy, suffering, etc.

Here, suffering and sensations always exist.

or (2) involve an underlying neutrality which is the absence of sensation, and experiencing suffering or happiness generates a corresponding feeling.

Here, suffering and sensations cease.

So, (1) implies a variety of different and co-existing sensations, while (2) implies a neutral basis wherein sensations arise and dissipate.


This might seem like a metaphysical or trivial question, but I think its quite significant.

In (1), diminishing suffering might involve tolerating its presence, more and more. In (2), the ideal is neutrality, and suffering is diminished by elimination.

So, I think this question wonders whether Buddhism advocates (1) the existence of sensations and phenomena, positive or negative or neutral, but the equanimity towards them. Or, does it advocate (2), the equanimity towards sensations as in their diminution, and the return towards neutrality?

Does Buddhism experience suffering with tolerance, or diminish suffering by elimination?

Thank you.

  • Eggman. Might be possible good to change the titel, since its a total different topic then the detail after. What about: "Approaching suffering (unpleasant feelings) with tolerance, or diminish suffering by elimination, or something else?" – Samana Johann Oct 26 '17 at 18:57
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Does Buddhism experience suffering with tolerance, or diminish suffering by elimination?

What ever Buddhism could do, does, should, even experiences... The Buddha told, and such is it recited:

"Eggman!"

"Yes," the householder replied.

The Monk said, "Eggman, the ending of the fermentations is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen fermentations arise, and arisen fermentations increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen fermentations do not arise, and arisen fermentations are abandoned. There are fermentations to be abandoned by seeing, those to be abandoned by restraining, those to be abandoned by using, those to be abandoned by tolerating, those to be abandoned by avoiding, those to be abandoned by destroying, and those to be abandoned by developing.

...

"[4] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating.

[5] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild bull, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, a bramble patch, a chasm, a cliff, a cesspool, an open sewer. Reflecting appropriately, he avoids sitting in the sorts of unsuitable seats, wandering to the sorts of unsuitable habitats, and associating with the sorts of bad friends that would make his knowledgeable friends in the holy life suspect him of evil conduct. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to avoid these things do not arise for him when he avoids them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding.

[6] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence.

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful mental qualities. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to destroy these things do not arise for him when he destroys them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying.

Sabbasava Sutta: All the Fermentations

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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I'm not sure I follow your vocabulary (e.g. you distinguish dukkha, anxiety, suffering, sensations, etc., which I'm not sure I do or can).

a person in mundane life experiences a plethora of sensations which, when a single feeling dominates, becomes joy, suffering, etc.

Subjectively it seems to me that a lot depends on memory (or train of thought):

  • If I remember something sad (i.e. a time in the past when I felt sad) then I momentarily feel sad again!
  • If I remember something happy (a time when I felt happy) then maybe I feel sad because that time is past or passing!! :-)

I think that equanity includes:

  • Whatever it is (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral) don't become attached to it (and don't think of it as "myself")
  • If present experience is pleasant then don't rejoice in it or relish it "too much", or without some mindfulness; or view it with dispassion, or even Nibbida

  • If it's unpleasant then don't "shy away from it", so that you would avoid knowing it (and knowing its cessation too)

Also according to this the brahma-viharas are "the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings " which "provide, in fact, the answer to all situations arising from social contact" -- I'm not sure how that applies to equanimity, specifically, except that much restlessness seems to me to be associated with (or a residue from) social contact.

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I dunno if we are allowed to answer our own question this way -- someone may inform me -- but I think my answer can provide some clarity on this topic. I realized after asking that my emotional reactions are immensely blunted, while also occurring immensely strongly in rare instances. For example, I will have no compassion, then feel a burst of immense compassionate feeling, and even cry sometimes.

This leads me to suppose my feelings are bottled up, filtered. The idea of a bottle, which has pressured contents, causing it to burst, is this phenomenon: I would think, perhaps, emotions and feelings -- and experiences -- function this way.

This leads me to question if the way I studied Buddhism and other philosophies was not totally misguided, and ultimately caused me to filter feelings in an avoidant way.

I feel Buddhism advocates feeling rather than avoidance, it makes sense to me now.

I think this answer has some use in that the bottled up phenomenon seems to suggest something about my mind, or emotions themselves, or provides a good example for what not to do in Buddhism.

If such answering is not well received, then merely delete it, or notify me.

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