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I don't presume to understand Buddhism very well, but I'm trying to increase my understanding of the Dhamma, so please don't take what I write the wrong way. I'm not being disrespectful, because even the Buddha praised Sariputta for his unwillingness to accept teachings on faith alone, but rather from his own personal experience and understanding.

I sometimes feel like Buddhist practice is a slow form of suicide. Gradually, all interest in life, the world, family, friends, romantic interests, sense pleasures and even love itself needs to be ultimately abandoned and renounced. Nibbana is considered to be the ultimate freedom and highest happiness because it ends all suffering by extinguishing the mind from all forms of existence forever. This is denied as being annihilation because its argued that since there was never a true self to begin with, there was nothing to be annihilated. Nevertheless, we still experience a subjective experience of a self, otherwise, there would be no point in practicing the Eightfold Path.

Because only a deluded (unenlightened) mind could have any motivation to extinguish itself, craving Nibbana seems very much like a strong aversion to existence. Anyone who tries to logically extrapolate this to justify suicide as a means to accomplish the same result is denied because its argued that a desire for annihilation (via suicide) creates more bad karma which causes rebirth. Yet, desiring annihilation via the Eightfold Path is somehow exempt from this. If someone wants to remain in Samsara forever, it's very easy to do, no effort is required. But if someone craves to permanently self-destruct via Nibbana, they must be highly motivated and diligent in their efforts, perhaps spanning many lifetimes. Some people even abandon all worldly life to become monastics to accomplish this in the fastest and most direct manner possible. Thus, it seems that to remain in Samsara requires much less desire and effort than to seek one's own annihilation via the Eightfold Path.

Again, I realize people will argue that you can't annihilate what doesn't truly exist, but this existence which all sentient beings experience as subjective reality is all a deluded mind can ever know, so seeking to extinguish that reality seems like a desire for non-existence which is supposed to create more bad karma and rebirth. I honestly struggle to follow the logic of this.

  • Yes it is. Hence the Prophet Mohammed ' Die before your death'. But it's only the ego that needs to worry. – PeterJ Nov 2 '19 at 9:03
  • "Gradually, all interest in life, the world, family, friends, romantic interests, sense pleasures and even love itself needs to be ultimately abandoned and renounced." The more one tries to suppress one's desires, the more aggressively they will bounce back. – The crow and the coconut Nov 2 '19 at 11:19
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I don't presume to understand Buddhism very well

The above self-awareness is wise.

I sometimes feel like Buddhist practice is a slow form of suicide.

Its not. 'Dhamma' means that which 'supports' life therefore dhamma cannot be suicide.

Gradually, all interest in life, the world, family, friends, romantic interests, sense pleasures and even love itself needs to be ultimately abandoned and renounced.

Yes. Buddhism says to attain the higher pleasures of jhana & Nibbana, worldly pleasures must be abandoned.

Nibbana is considered to be the ultimate freedom and highest happiness because it ends all suffering by extinguishing the mind from all forms of existence forever.

No. Nibbana is the here-&-now freedom from the disturbing emotions of greed, hatred & delusion. As for the word "existence" ("bhava"), it means "ego-existence", which is the root of suffering.

This is denied as being annihilation because its argued that since there was never a true self to begin with, there was nothing to be annihilated.

Actually, the Buddha did say in one sutta he annihilates greed, hatred & self-delusion. But this does not involve suicide.

Nevertheless, we still experience a subjective experience of a self, otherwise, there would be no point in practicing the Eightfold Path.

It is the mind that suffers (when it ignorantly creates self-view) rather than a self that suffers. The end of suffering in Buddhism is called freedom of mind (ceto-vimutti) rather than freedom of self.

Because only a deluded (unenlightened) mind could have any motivation to extinguish itself

Nibbana is not the extinguishing of mind. Nibbana is the extinguishing of greed, hatred & delusion.

Nibbana seems very much like a strong aversion to existence.

No.

Anyone who tries to logically extrapolate this to justify suicide as a means to accomplish the same result is denied because its argued that a desire for annihilation (via suicide) creates more bad karma which causes rebirth.

Nibbana has no correlation to suicide. Nibbana is the freedom from the pain that motivates suicide.

Yet, desiring annihilation via the Eightfold Path is somehow exempt from this.

The idea that Nibbana is ending of mind is wrong understanding of Buddhism.

If someone wants to remain in Samsara forever, it's very easy to do, no effort is required.

Samsara means the continuous attaching to things as self. Refer to SN 22.99.

But if someone craves to permanently self-destruct via Nibbana

Craving does not bring Nibbana. Nibbana is found by ending craving.

they must be highly motivated and diligent in their efforts, perhaps spanning many lifetimes.

There is no evidence for many lifetimes. Such ideas are only found in a certain genre of texts and also later texts.

Thus, it seems that to remain in Samsara requires much less desire and effort than to seek one's own annihilation via the Eightfold Path.

Eightfold Path does not lead to annihilation of life. Only the annihilation of suffering.

existence

Existence (bhava) is an idea; the idea or thought "I exist". It does not mean the existence of the mind & body.

which all sentient beings

The Buddha never used the term "sentient beings". The Buddha taught "beings" are views or ideas born from strong attachment (refer to SN 23.2; SN 5.10).

experience as subjective reality is all a deluded mind can ever know, so seeking to extinguish that reality seems like a desire for non-existence which is supposed to create more bad karma and rebirth.

Suicide is an action born from pain & confusion. Suicide means the mind has not found peace from practising the Noble Eightfold Path. This is why suicide is regarded as bad karma because, instead of performing suicide, a person can practise the Path.

I honestly struggle to follow the logic of this.

This struggle exists because Buddhism has not been studied & learned accurately. Instead, your views about Buddhism, while very common, are the superstitions taught to children & village peasants. Since a Buddha is fully enlightened, obviously what a Buddha teaches cannot be illogical.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Nov 2 '19 at 22:49
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You have this turned around in your head (which is common enough), so let's go back to first principles. Buddhism does not suggest that:

[...] all interest in life, the world, family, friends, romantic interests, sense pleasures and even love itself needs to be ultimately abandoned and renounced.

Buddhism points out that we are discontent/unhappy (dukkha) because we form attachments (tānha) to our concepts of these things. It then offers the solution: that we should remove our attachments, and our discontent will disappear. That is how we come to experience the natural joy of life.

Now, monastic orders generally try to fast-track enlightenment, so they actively reject not just attachments themselves, but also the things that we are likely to become attached to. It's like a starvation diet, in which a monk (metaphorically) padlocks the refrigerator and refuses to go near anything indulgently delicious in order to remove the temptation to binge. People engage the monastic life when they have started to become acutely aware of the meaningless misery induced by attachments, and have an urgent desire to be liberated from them. To someone who is not as acutely aware of the delusional misery brought on by attachments, this monastic urge might appear suicidal, granted: that is the uncomprehending ego trying to make sense of liberation through the lens of its own attachments. But by that same token, the person seeking liberation sees 'normal' egoic activities — the prides, the jealousies, the angers, the clingy-obsessive needs to take and have and win — as suicidal, because those activities wound what's best and brightest in human beings. And who's more right in that assessment?

Of course, it's perfectly possible to become attached to the path of liberation. Ego is a tricky thing, and sometimes people translate their worldly attachments into spiritual attachments. That is a (possibly unavoidable) stage in development. But eventually one feels the urge to liberate oneself from the quest for liberation as well, and then the true joy of life shines through. That's when we can bring our lives back to the world without the baggage of attachments.

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I'd argue that most people take up the practice of Buddhism in order to extinguish their own personal suffering and not "themselves" on a more general level. The former are practicing the Great Way, the latter are far from it. One is Buddhism, the other is delusion. I think your question also leaves out the millions upon millions of people who practice Buddhism with no real interest in becoming Buddhas in this lifetime. It's perfectly acceptable to practice simply with the goal of having wiser relationships with your family, friends, and romantic partners. Rather than sever those bonds, Buddhism can help strengthen them.

But for those who go full bore into their practice, ask yourself, are they running from their existence or running toward something? Is it the loss of self and the extinction of our petty little lives that motivates us to sit for hours on end in a freezing monastery? Of course not. Practice brings joy. Practice brings freedom. Practice brings wisdom, compassion, and insight. The more you taste of these fruits of practice, the more you come to realize that they are far more subtle and delectable than anything the world has to offer.

But it's also silly to think that to pursue enlightenment means that all of our mundane concerns for the world disappear. The world is full of monks living in community who love their dharma brothers dearly. It is also full of Bodhisattva householders who face emptiness in their day to day lives caring for the needy, loving their children, or cleaning their toilets. Nirvana and samsara are inseparable. The world of red dust is the universal Bodhimandala - the circle where we all may find awakening. What can we ever hope to extinguish when everything is Buddha?

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Buddha rejected both eternalism and nihilism. The object of suicide is to end the suffering. However, you can not end the suffering of that method. The worst-case scenario is you miss the opportunity as a human and be reborn in the animal realm. On the other hand, when you attain Nibbana, you have eliminated the self-identification. Hence when you are an Arahant there is no person to die. However, only five aggregate disintegrate. Anyway, your question is a very good one. However, you might not ask this question when you become an Arahant. Perhaps even a Sotapanna will not ask this question.

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Who told you to think about suicide? Who told you to become buddhist? What's wrong with your current life : if nothing then you wouldn't even dare to think about going to a city in which you are not interested ? Why are you even thinking about annihilation/suicide type words : curious OR time-pass OR trying to make a joke ?

Answer :

You wanna see or live with truth .You wanna know difference between right and wrong. Does +ve and -ve OR right & wrong even matters?

Well, such start of awareness only comes to some people. Don't think about buddhism or buddha . Buddha was around 2700/- years ago , a PAST . You are PRESENT.

Lots of changes have been made in teachings of Buddha. 99% misunderstanding exists .

Only 4 Noble Truths ::

  1. Suffering within body/mind ,
  2. It's cause ,
  3. It's ANNIHILATION /END ,
  4. Way/Path to & maintain this endness forever.

And

5 Percepts :: no adultery , no killing , no telling lie ,no stealing & no alcohalism.

are CORRECT , CORE & ORIGINAL buddha teachings.

Just stop arguing with others & start your journey within your body .Lots of meditation techniques are there which try to maintain above 5 Percepts & try to reach on same understanding of suffering ,basic one is to maintain continuous awareness of in-out breath .

8 fold path might be correct or NOT , find out yourself.Cause every 1 buddhist monk among 10,000 ones will give different elaboration on 8 fold path.

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Let me try to answer this quickly.

I sometimes feel like Buddhist practice is a slow form of suicide. Gradually, all interest in life, the world, family, friends, romantic interests, sense pleasures and even love itself needs to be ultimately abandoned and renounced.

I think that sabbe sankhara anicca -- compound things are impermanent -- is a fact of life or a law of nature.

Sooner or later these things -- family and so on -- become no more, whether or not you agree or approve of that.

I think that Buddhist doctrine might help in several ways --

  • To cope when it (i.e. cessation) eventually happens
  • To decide whether you want to do it again, after cessation has happened
  • To live more in the present, with less attachment and upset and hang-ups

That's true in at least two time-scales (possibly others too):

  • Over decades (people die)
  • Over seconds ("becoming" is unsatisfactory)

Nibbana is considered to be the ultimate freedom and highest happiness because it ends all suffering by extinguishing the mind from all forms of existence forever.

I think nibbana is extinguishing "bad habits" and tendencies of various types, and not extinguishing "the mind".

This is denied as being annihilation because its argued that since there was never a true self to begin with, there was nothing to be annihilated.

I think the doctrine says there is cessation -- and that what ceases isn't fit to be viewed as "self", that viewing it as self is unsatisfactory/suffering.

Nevertheless, we still experience a subjective experience of a self, otherwise, there would be no point in practicing the Eightfold Path.

That may be true? See the answers to How are 'conceit' and 'identity-view' not the same?

Because only a deluded (unenlightened) mind could have any motivation to extinguish itself, craving Nibbana seems very much like a strong aversion to existence.

I'm not sure of the logic there -- "Because only a dirty (muddy) boy could have any motive to wash himself, craving a shower seems very much like a strong aversion to existence" -- is that right?

Furthermore, admittedly, that (i.e. "I am dirty") might be at odds with Huineng's realizations but apparently that's the enlightened view -- the "unenlightened" mind might seek an end to suffering rather than an end to existence.

Yet, desiring annihilation via the Eightfold Path is somehow exempt from this.

I think the four noble truths suggest that the eightfold path is for the cessation of suffering and craving and clinging -- not "desiring annihilation" but, canonically, "to live the holy life".

But if someone craves to permanently self-destruct via Nibbana, they must be highly motivated and diligent in their efforts, perhaps spanning many lifetimes.

It's not "self-destruction" but for example eradication of "conceit"-- I think that is the logic!

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I’m not a monk, but a lay person who didn’t realise until a month or so ago that the survival technique I’d taught myself from when I was a small child ( meditation and disciplining my mind to master its own chatter) was the reason I was able to connect with people, my senses, the world ... in a way that I could never have experienced had I not done so. Rather than extinguishing the flame, my amateur yet effective methods (that I clearly see now, duplicate many Buddhist methods ) for releasing myself from the self , are what have kept me from suffering, going deeper, seeing more... really living. I’m alive to the point I could never have been without my practise. Your question is a good one but it’s very subjective. I wish you well

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Generally suicide doesn't work to decrease the bottom line of expected suffering before releasing from it. Even an anagami is blamed if ending the life by suicide.

“The Venerable Channa did indeed have these friendly families, Sāriputta, intimate families, hospitable families; but I do not say that to this extent one is blameworthy. Sāriputta, when one lays down this body and takes up another body, then I say one is blameworthy. This did not happen in the case of the bhikkhu Channa. The bhikkhu Channa used the knife blamelessly. Thus, Sāriputta, should you remember it.”https://legacy.suttacentral.net/en/sn35.87

In case of an arahant there is no blame if they hero because having done their work they will be attaining parinibbana either way.

Nibbana is considered to be the ultimate freedom and highest happiness because it ends all suffering by extinguishing the mind from all forms of existence forever.

Correct except mind is too extinguished because existence predicates existence of mind. This is direct sutta inference, it is almost the literal wording of the Sutta;

These two Nibbana-elements were made known By the Seeing One, stable and unattached: One is the element seen here and now With residue, but with the cord of being destroyed; The other, having no residue for the future, Is that wherein all modes of being utterly cease.

Having understood the unconditioned state, Released in mind with the cord of being destroyed, They have attained to the Dhamma-essence. Delighting in the destruction (of craving), Those stable ones have abandoned all being.https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/iti/iti.2.028-049.than.html#iti-044

*(From the same sutta meaning of the word 'being' therein is drawn out to be aggregates thus including mind/consciousness as they are proclaimed same in meaning)

This is denied as being annihilation because its argued that since there was never a true self to begin with, there was nothing to be annihilated.

Isn't denied as it is the Sutta. Mind is extinguished; the aggregates do breakup and existence of anything not associated can not be established.. That which is called mind, consciousness and intellect is impermanent and becomes extinguished fully with no residue for new beginnings.

Nevertheless, we still experience a subjective experience of a self, otherwise, there would be no point in practicing the Eightfold Path.

sometimes there is a deliation of experience as thinking, thinking is about experience, how it works and if misuderstood there comes to be thinking of phenomena as self or personal. It is the default way to think.

Thus, it seems that to remain in Samsara requires much less desire and effort than to seek one's own annihilation via the Eightfold Path.

To remain in samsara requires a potentially infinite amount of wrong effort and desires. It is as if a person in a hole jumping on hot coals would say ' it would take effort to grab a hold of the edge there and pull myself out - were i to get a hold of the edge it would be burdensome. Therefore by avoiding the burden i shall live without unburdened.'

  • If based on bad views there is evaluation of suicide to be the right decision; that is quite bad because breakup of the body doesn't release from birth. All conditioned phenomena are impermanent, are suffering. Thus acc to the Buddha it is always better to bear it until destroying the root. – sigh... Nov 1 '19 at 20:18
  • Which sutta says "mind is extinguished" -- because, the suttas I see talk about ending conceit, fabrications, fermentations, etc. -- do you mean, "cessation of vedana"? – ChrisW Nov 1 '19 at 21:26
  • There are many sutta and i will give you a list but it is also quite easily inferred; mind is impermanent. Impermanent is suffering. Buddha teaches suffering and it's cessation. So buddha taught cessation of mind. – sigh... Nov 1 '19 at 21:33
  • Further if going more technical there is a sutta called uninstructed equating mind and vinnana. Furthermore rebuttal of Sati for assuming that that which is called consciousness refers to one and the same thing as if a pair of shoes refered to the same thing as another pair of shoes by virtue of the word shoe. If more technical even in cessation of perception & feeling 'mental fabrication' cease but life force and heat are not extinguished, unlike parinibbana. Therefore there is no 'after' to talk about at all and you can take all . – sigh... Nov 1 '19 at 21:46
  • If you still want the texts let me know but of the top of my head samaditthi sutta expliciplty expresses 'vinnana nirodha' as an example. Cessation of mental fabrication is mn43 – sigh... Nov 1 '19 at 21:50

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