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Reading most of the responses given here related to my question and also reading many suttas it seems to me that there are two contradictory views. I don't want to name any school of thought, I don't think I'm qualified to do so, however, when one read, for example, Puttamansa Sutta: A Son's Flesh it seems clear that this world is to be abandoned, and everything we do is inherently gross and scary to say the list, but there are many responses given in this platform and I may even cite some suttas that view this world as a in harmony and perfect.

In short, according to this latter view, the world is perfect it's the mind which is f**kedup ; a worldview akin to Taoism or Stoicism in the west where everything is perfect except the deluded mind.

My question is how do these two seemingly incompatible view work in Buddhism or should these be viewed as ideas propounded by different schools of thought?


I have got three response up-to now; @ruben2020 think the world to be indifferent, @Andrei Volkov believe that the world is good and for @ ChrisW the question is wrong and to be avoided as an extreme view.

However, when one read most of the Suttas such as the Adittapariyaya Sutta and many more the teaching seems to gravitate towards negative view of the world or at list the Suttas instruct us to sail very close to the view of seeing the world as bad. So, i'm going to live the question open as unanswered.

  • What if chosing different langage so that it would be possible to receive answeres from those merely annoyed by low speech? Maybe a way to make the world a bit a better place. It's all up to choices and there is no much burden to let then even go of proper gained when it becomes time. Wealth. Allthought it might already provide a releasing answer, still it would be good to correct, either out of goodness or obigation. – Samana Johann Feb 12 '18 at 17:28
  • @Samana Johann I'm not certain if i understood you correctly, but after reading the Sutta you attached and also reading you comment it seems to me that you are saying that the World is good for one living generously / virtuously. – user13006 Feb 12 '18 at 18:31
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Tibetan schools of Mahayana are pretty clear on this: our experience of the world is projection of our mind. So when the mind is afflicted, in various ways - it sees the world as bad or ugly, in various ways. As the mind is purified of afflictions and obscurations, it sees the world as increasingly harmonious and beautiful. This matches my personal experience, going both up and down in my mind states.

The Sakya school even has this notion of "three views" or "three visions" - "the state of those experiencing suffering, those engaged in the methods leading towards freedom from unhappiness and misery, and those fully enlightened ones who have attained the highest goal of omniscient awakening".

The Nyingma interpretation of Buddhist cosmology is very much phenomenological and keeps hinting at how an experience of the world relates to observer's mind.

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In Buddhism, there is the notion that we can use a skillful technique or theme of thinking, which is the best technique or theme of thinking that it is suited for a particular situation, for a particular purpose, to cater for a particular need. Some of these techniques may be mutually exclusive or contradictory to each other.

It is just like how a master chef uses various techniques to craft the best results based on the needs. Sometimes you need to boil, sometimes you need to bake, sometimes you need to fry, sometimes you need to broil, sometimes you need to grill and sometimes you need to sautee. These techniques may appear to contradict each other, but are used at different times to achieve different results.

First example:

For overcoming lust (as a hindrance of sensual desire), you can use the contemplation on unattractiveness (see this question). But too much of it may lead to negative thoughts of suicide, in which case, use the mindfulness of breathing (see this answer) to counter it.

Second example:

The Buddha taught that not everything we experience is caused by what we did in this answer. This is the Buddha teaching anatta, so that we can let go of the self-view.

Again, when the Buddha was asked by the naked ascetic Kassapa whether suffering was of one's own making or of another's or both or neither, the Buddha replied "Do not put it like that." ... He then said "Kassapa, if one asserts that 'He who makes (it) feels (it): being one existent from the beginning, his suffering is of his own making,' then one arrives at eternalism. But if one asserts that one makes (it), another feels (it); being one existent crushed out by feeling, his suffering is of another's making,' then one arrives at annihilationism. Instead of resorting to either extreme a Tathaagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle way (by dependent origination)".

But in some cases, for other practitioners, it might be useful to think that we are the creators, owners and heirs of our kamma. The Themes Sutta has many examples of different themes of thinking and what problems can be resolved by such ways of thinking. One of those is to think that what we experience is caused by what we did, in order to eradicate unvirtuous habits.

“And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do’? People engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, such misconduct is either completely abandoned or diminished.

Now back to your question ...

Based on this, I would say that thinking of the world as disgusting and to be abandoned is a technique to be used if you're addicted to the pleasures of the world. But if you're depressed and negative about the world, then its useful to think about the world as being beautiful and harmonious but it's only your thinking that's the problem.

What is the inherent nature of the world? It is neither good or bad, or ugly or beautiful. It simply is conditioned (sankhara) and impermanent (anicca) i.e. everything in the world is always changing being influenced by other things.

This is also corroborated by physics - everything in the universe changes, influenced by everything else, including space, time, matter and energy. These can be seen in the consequences of General Relativity and Special Relativity, e.g. curvature of space-time, time dilation, gravitational waves and, equivalence of matter and energy.

In most Mahayana Buddhism schools, the inherent nature of the world is emptiness. See this answer for details.

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    Thanks, In short you're saying we should view the world as good or bad deepening on our mind state, but the question is what is it inherently? is it neither bad or good or can we say it's beautiful when views with perfect mind ,but bad when viewed with a deluded mind. – user13006 Feb 10 '18 at 4:50
  • When the Buddha attacks even our desire for eating, which is the source of life in this world, as he did in the Sutta i refereed, It makes one wander if this world is at all desirable even for a man with perfect mind. – user13006 Feb 10 '18 at 4:54
  • @user13006 What is the inherent nature of the world? It is neither good or bad, or ugly or beautiful. It simply is conditioned (sankhara) and impermanent (anicca) i.e. everything in the world is always changing being influenced by other things. – ruben2020 Feb 10 '18 at 4:57
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Is the world inherently good or is it something to be shunned?

No, not necessarily.

When you ask a question like "Is it this extreme, or is it that extreme?" then the answer is often "No". Remember what's said about the Middle Way.

it seems clear that this world is to be abandoned

I think it's teaching that greed is to be abandoned.

I'm not sure that it's saying, exactly, that we're literally eating a son's flesh -- only to have that kind of attitude, of eating not for pleasure but for necessity.

It may be trying to teach Nibbida.

And Piya Tan writes about this sutta that:

The Sutta‘s Commentary explains that the Buddha gives this teaching because the monastic order has been receiving an abundance of gifts and honour (lābha,sakkāra), and that some of the monks are not using their requisites with proper reflection. Indeed, the situation is so urgent that the Buddha is represented as giving this teaching as "the fifth rule of defeat" (pañcama pārājika), that is, a rule which when broken entails automatic defeat or fall from monkhood. To prevent this, he places before the monks (by way of this teaching) "a mirror of the Dharma" (dhamm’ādāsa) for their self-restraint. Constantly reflecting on this teaching, they would use the four requisites—almsfood, robes, shelter and medical requisites—with restraint (saṁvara) and proper limits [strictly defined relationships] (mariyāda).

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  • i think the description in the Sutta goes beyond the teaching of restraint, may be its teaching Nibbida as you suggested. If so, the definition given for Nibbida by Jayarava in the link you provided seems to indicated that the one who see things as they are i.e the Arahant is disgust of sense experience. Which seems to contradict with the other view. – user13006 Feb 10 '18 at 18:12
  • See the section titled "Go Left, Go Right" on this page ... I still think it's meant as an antidote to craving. – ChrisW Feb 10 '18 at 18:27
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World is neither good nor bad. World just is. It is us who pick sides and categories things in to boxes.

Having said that, world is a place where nothing is guaranteed nor safe. How easy or hard life is there is always a struggle. But still everything eventually falls apart. Sometimes this is communicated as a bad deal and one that we should get out of. But this is neither good nor bad. Just the nature of world. It make life hard for those who are not enlightened.

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