Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Favorite quotations, etc.
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Maus
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Post by Maus » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:41 am

At the request of @brian on another thread, I'm posting the link to this site I found on Bhuddist attitudes toward death and healthcare.
Here's the link:

http://www.urbandharma.org/kusala/dad.html
The particular quote that has stuck with me is the following:

"Good health is simply the slowest way a human being can die."

Found on this page:

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma8/health.html
Essentially, I am working on overcoming my fear of death and letting go of my attachment to good health (or bad health supported by expensive health insurance).
BTW, despite @brian's kind assumption that I am a fellow traveller, I am not a crypto-Bhuddist but remain a former Catholic monk committed to any path that reliably reveals Truth. In my experience, no group or individual has a monopoly on it.


Marlene
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Post by Marlene » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:47 am

Thank you, this is inspiring.


aussierogue
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Post by aussierogue » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:52 am

Yes thanks Maus.
any I agree!
I have been practicing mindfullness and loving kindness meditations for 7 years now and i agree its a great place to start.


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Ego
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Post by Ego » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:43 pm

It is a bit perplexing why believers fear or become sad around death. If one believes that paradise awaits in heaven it would seem to me they would be rushing toward it and would be ecstatic when a loved one reached it.
The saying you quoted, "Good health is simply the slowest way a human being can die," simply acknowledges this fact. Deep down in their core most people don't really believe or at least have severe doubts, hence they fear death. That fear is two fold, fear of the unknown and fear that this is all there is, right here right now.
Fear of suffering is another thing. Suffering can be optional but - in my opinion - not entirely in the way the Buddhists believe. The Buddhists require the magical thinking of rebirth for suffering to end entirely. They release suffering by releasing the desire to live and any desire toward pleasure. But Buddhists continue to suffer because they don't really ascribe to the magical thinking.
I believe in the here and now. When we realize that suffering is part of life and can make us stronger, the suffering itself is diminished and perhaps even eliminated. This is one of the definitions of Karma, transformation through intention. The suffering itself transforms into something that is neither good nor bad. It just is. In the same way we feel muscle pain after exercise, suffering produces discomfort that can produce positive change.
This is one of the problem with our current attitude toward suffering. We eliminate it. We drug it. When we never experience it we lose something important.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-lz-YvTuRE


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Post by jennypenny » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:37 pm

>>It is a bit perplexing why believers fear or become sad around death.

I think you can be sad because you'll miss the person, even if you believe they have passed on to something better. I'm not sure if by fear you mean the dying fear death or those around them. I know a lot of women who are afraid of what will happen to them if their husband dies. I imagine kids fear that their parents will die for the same reason. If you're referring to the dying fearing death, it reminds me of the old joke "I hope St. Peter's memory isn't better than mine."
Re: suffering I agree with you. And it's a very relative term. I'm constantly amazed at what some people consider "suffering" in this country. We've also corrupted the word "sacrifice" in the same way.


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Post by Dragline » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:05 pm

That was nice.
@Maus -- do you happen to follow Fr. James Martin, S.J. (yes, those worldly Jesuits!)
His latest book is kind of the opposite side of the coin being discussed here. It's called "Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life".
Here's a little vignette:
"The Silent Monk. A man enters a strict monastery. On his first day the abbot says, "You'll be able to speak only two words every five years Do you understand?" The novice nods and goes away. Five years later the abbot call him and asks him what he wants to say. "Food cold," he says. "Oh, I'm sorry," says the abbot -- we'll fix that. Five years later the abbot asks him what he wants to say after 10 years. "Bed hard," he says. And the abbot says he will fix that too. Then after another five years the two meet. The abbot says, "Well, you've been here fifteen years. What two words would you like to say. "I'm leaving," says the monk.
And the abbot says, "Well, I'm not surprised. You've done nothing but complain since you got here.""


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Post by JasonR » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:14 pm

I agree with the missing. It's tough to imagine never getting to share another moment or stupid observation about a squirrel with a loved one, even if you truly believe they're in a better place, playing air hockey with Ben Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.
I may be taking this too literally but I never grasped the non-attachment idea. Why wouldn't I want to be attached? Why shouldn't I experience the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middles?


jzt83
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Post by jzt83 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:23 pm

I thought Buddhism taught embracing emotions and not trying to deny them?


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:29 pm

Buddhism, like all religions, is full of contradictions.


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Post by Hoplite » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:02 pm

Thanks Maus, the perspective is always useful. Another short Buddhist list, the Dokkōdō:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dokk%C5%8Dd%C5%8D
I've always found it much harder to face a loved one's death than my own, and I don't understand the lack of attachment or why it's beneficial. Seneca preaches a similar, though stoic, detachment (mourning is unseemly), and I don't understand that one either.
As to prospects in the afterlife, my favorite story involves some friends of W.C. Fields visiting him on his sickbed, finding him reading the Bible. When asked why he was reading the Bible, he replied: "Looking for loopholes."


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Post by aussierogue » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:15 pm

Buddhism and detachment
For me its the truth. Nothing is that Bad and equally nothing is that Good and yet somehow deceive ourselves into believing otherwise.
See people who have suffered greatly - and yet keep wlaking through life with poise and compassion helping others
See people who have experienced huge worldly success and yet keep walking through life with poise and compassion helping others..
Others however exeprience pain and fall apart or experience success and fall apart. Both are manifestations of the ego.
The other misnomer is the idea that remaining detached makes a person cold or less able to experience strong feelings.
I find that remaining detached does the opposite. Being truthfull and restrained allows for clarity and this brings depth to relationships.


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Post by jacob » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:50 pm

@JasonR -- The idea is to avoid letting your internal state (your

happiness) be controlled by externals beyond your control. To de-risk your well-being. Not "playing the game" is certainly one way to avoid risk but a better way is to avoid holding on [emotionally] to attachments that have been lost and which can not be recovered, because they are beyond your control. It's fairly easy to make a list of things, e.g. your own death, random injury, losses on the stock market, ... which are beyond your control. The method would then be to work out in advance (perhaps in a general sense) what your response is to such losses since they will happen sooner or later.
tl;dr - The point of non-attachment is not to not-attach but to avoid whining about "if only [...] hadn't happened, waah waah waah".


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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by Stahlmann » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:55 pm

When we speak about Far Eastern philosophies, I like this quote... Time for New Age woo!
Yep, I haven't raised in this culture sphere, so I easily mish mash them. Sorry for that.
I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path. ... This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found Lies, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.

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Re:

Post by Michael_00005 » Thu May 10, 2018 5:31 pm

JasonR wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:14 pm
Why wouldn't I want to be attached? Why shouldn't I experience the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middles?
I was reading from an author who mentioned why there is so much misunderstanding in Western religion. It was something like “a Western mindset, trying to grasp an Easterner’s thought/writings” (all major religions are founded in the East). Now some may say I don’t believe in religion, but pretty much all of us (Westerners) are heavily influenced by it’s thought - whatever we think. It took me a while to sort out above comment - thinking - why would this prevent proper understanding?

What are some of the basic pieces of Eastern thought? At the foundation it’s understood we are caught up in the transmigration of the soul (reincarnation), where family, friends, wealth, health, etc., are karmic related; we return to play out our part in the great unending game – the wheel of life. What binds the soul and causes it to return? Karma and attachment (you are bound to what you love/hate), if he is attached to the world, then he returns to the world. If a man leaves the world owing a great debt (misdeeds etc.) then he must return to settle the bill.

History and assumptions – Now in the West we are told when you die you go to heaven or hell. From what I read this thought was inserted owing to a political agenda… as we know man + excess power (emperors, kings, etc.) are often a dangerous combination. To my knowledge no scripture in the world says: when you die you go to heaven or hell, this is simply assumed. Just one example of hundreds of (potential) misunderstandings.

-- this post is not in disagreement with anything written above, more to expand on the thought of non-attachment -- (edit)
Last edited by Michael_00005 on Sat May 12, 2018 5:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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chenda
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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by chenda » Sat May 12, 2018 9:03 am

@Michael_00005 The western idea of one life followed by a final judgement probably originated from Zoroastrianism, which was hugely influential on the three Abrahamic faiths. Zoroaster taught that good and evil are engaged in a ongoing battle, in both the human mind and material world. With human effort good will ultimately triumph over evil. Heaven and earth will unite, the sufficiently punished evil doers in hell will join the righteous in heaven, and existence will have fulfilled in its purpose. Job done, end of storey. This is the linear view of life, in contrast to the Dharmic cyclical view.

From what I understand, in the west since the 18th century there has been a increasingly sharp delineation between philosophy and religion, the former considered a serious scholarly subject, and the latter increasingly seen as at best 'useful fiction', especially amongst educated elites with whom the materialist paradigm is very dominant. This delineation does not exist to the same degree in eastern faiths, which may partially explain the attraction of them to westerners today.

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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by Jason » Sun May 13, 2018 8:23 am

Most buddhas I have seen could stand to lose a few pounds.

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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon May 14, 2018 10:26 am

Some thoughts from a layman regarding these differing perspectives.

If Western religions consider this life essentially as a pass/fail test for the final judgement, then it makes sense they want to do good(whatever that may be). People who endure suffering are doing so for rewards in the afterlife. Those who suffer from uncontrollable events, like ailments or persecution, can easily be perceived as faithful and good. Enter in concepts like martyrs and sainthood.

In the Eastern religions the motivation for doing good (again, whatever that may be) is to end the never ending suffering of lives on earth and attain bliss. It can then be extrapolated those suffering for no apparent reason are doing so as a result of Karma from previous lives, hence it's easy to view them as "bad", or in the very least paying a past debt.

In either case, stopping suffering (ex helping a poor sick person) can actually be doing the individual a disservice from a religious perspective. However, in one case it's not the individuals fault, in the other they are at fault for past actions.

I can see how these differing views can make a difference on larger scale social constructs and political policies.

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chenda
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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by chenda » Mon May 14, 2018 1:21 pm

I've found a lot of wisdom in Indian religion, especially Jainism and Sikhism, but I've never really been comfortable with the concept Karma. It seems to support the just world fallacy, that virtue is always rewarded and evil always punished, and has been blamed for supporting the caste system. I don't know how true this is or if this view is partially the result of Christian and Islamic missionary activity, which has often sought converts from the lower castes. Maybe some people find it comforting to believe that the bad thing that happened to them was somehow justice for past misdeeds. And helping the suffering can be a way of earning karmic merit.

Personally though, I find the duality of Persian Zoroastrianism a reasonable middle ground (in every sense) between the East - West position. Its acknowledges that the world is imperfect and unjust, gives a convincing answer as to why (the problem of evil) and clearly sets out a purpose in life.

Just my take not trying to criticise other religions here.

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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by Michael_00005 » Mon May 14, 2018 8:40 pm

The different religions and theories are interesting, but in the end you are left with an opinion… mostly religious people think theirs’s is the best and everyone else is either wrong or a heathen.

There are some very interesting stories coming from young toddlers having memory before they were born: “Memories of Heaven” being one example. If anything, my take away is that adults only become more confused with age. Having personally made lifestyle changes, readings and experiments it certainly feels that man only barely touches his potential.

Here’s the life we are born into:
1. A mindless formal education
2. For most of us an excessive amount of time was wasted in front a TV, computer, video games, etc. (sex and violence)
3. More often than not we are sold a package of lies and deceit so another might profit (a poor diet, pharmaceutical drugs, cigarettes (they used to say it was good for you), and talked into wars, etc.)
4. Then just we are starting to come into our own, most young adults are told it’s a privilege to drinking or do drugs, which in turn burn out the body, degrades the mind, and blunts a man’s finer senses.
5. Then as an adult we are caught up in a lifelong pursuit of material goods, debt, and full time work. When would we ever find time to ponder the deeper meaning of life, even if the interest was there?
6. Not only that, but we pass our genes down from one generation to the next, potentially impairing future generations.

Who knows what has been lost in childhood, given the spoiled environment. Because what a child can learn in his formative years can never be duplicated as an adult. What if children were raised to hone their finer qualities from the beginning, through diet, exercise, mental and emotional disciplines? And greater emphasis was given to music, art, philosophy, and poetry; it seems this might help to develop creativity. Maybe children would grow up to be supermen.

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning” ― Plato

As things stand in the world today, it almost appears as if there is a force at play working to keep mankind mindless, drugged, and caught up in one or another of the dramas of life. A distraction, and while we look the other way, our real capital is being swindled.

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chenda
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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by chenda » Tue May 15, 2018 1:58 am

''According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that 'many religions can lead to eternal life'—including 37 percent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone. Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside church is growing. Thirty percent of Americans call themselves 'spiritual, not religious,' according to a 2009 NEWSWEEK Poll, up from 24 percent in 2005. Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity for 'the divine-deli-cafeteria religion' as 'very much in the spirit of Hinduism. You're not picking and choosing from different religions, because they're all the same,' he says. 'It isn't about orthodoxy. It's about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that's great, too.'''

http://www.adishakti.org/_/we_are_all_h ... week_3.htm

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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue May 15, 2018 2:29 pm

The hodgepodge of religious beliefs in the US doesn't surprise me, it's the same for virtually all cultural aspects of the country. Borrow the best from various cultures and make it your own. It's probably one of the major factors which made the US into the empire it is today. Also probably why a highly capitalistic economic system works so well in the US, by it's nature Capitalism provides motive to find various solutions to problems for different types of people. Although this cultural & religious variety has its issues. In particular the lack of a singular defining identity. One could argue this is bad for a nation because single solutions to problems don't work well across the board for the entire populace; like they seem to in more culturally cohesive societies like modern Scandinavia.

Personally, I grew up in a religious household. One of those 63% of evangelicals that believed there is only one path to salvation. By my teen years I had abandoned belief in that system, but at a cost. The myths I grew up with which brought meaning seemed to leave a hole unfilled which I still struggle with today, two decades later. Although I always gave credence to the practice of a region, believing that prayer/medication, etc had practical life improving benefits, I felt the fundamental beliefs and the stories associated with religion were meaningless since they obviously were not fact (I was raised to believe they were). This meant I could meditate or pray, but for no purpose other than self gain. Which seems to inherently miss the point.

Recently I was Introduced to Jordan Peterson in this forum (not to turn this to another JP discussion, it just happens to be relevant), I found his theories regarding religious myths and archetypes as evolved, relevant stories in how to live a good human life very interesting. It may be time to re-investigate the mythos of my childhood region and those of other regions with this new lens. Maybe it's possible to tie them together into a functional approach to religious practice.

In any event, I still find the fundamental religious explanations for evil or suffering problematic. Less helpful in dealing with the day to day personal struggles of life than basic psychology (systematic desensitization, cognitive behavior alteration, etc) or even taking hold of a more stoic philosophical mentality. Perhaps, as I reexplore, they can provide more motivation for personal attempts to alleviate suffering in others. This intern may have other web-of-goal like impacts on personal struggles.

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chenda
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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by chenda » Tue May 15, 2018 4:58 pm

@classical_liberal - You might find Kaikhosrov D Irani worth looking up, a late philosopher at city college in NY . He formulated a theory called Domains of Belief which argues that religion meets an essential need for people to seek significance in our existence. There is an excellent interview with him
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FyjL5jfMt8

I came from the reverse position in that I grew up in a somewhat strongly atheist household. When I was about 15 I grew very interested in religion, especially 'alternative religion', and read up on all sorts of interesting sects and cults, but reflexively dismissed them as irrational. 20 years later I've begun to explore it again. Reading some basic philosophy, especially Kantian, first took me to some dark places, but ultimately was helpful in pushing me into a spiritual search. I don't know whether I will ever commit to one path or just carry on with my Zoroastrian-Jain-Sikh hybrid, but for me religion is a private matter, I have no desire as yet to join any kind of group or organisation.

One thing I have learnt is that whilst religion to some extant can provide answers as to meaning and purpose, you have to avoid over-intellectualising. Accepting that there are certain things we can't fully know or understand, at least in this life.

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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by conwy » Tue May 15, 2018 5:49 pm

chenda wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 4:58 pm
Accepting that there are certain things we can't fully know or understand, at least in this life.
Agree with this! I'd even prefer to enjoy and revel in the mystery.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Bhuddist take on Healthcare, Suffering & Death

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu May 17, 2018 11:27 pm

@ Chenda
Interesting man and theories. Thanks!

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