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Snowmelt
19 Feb 11, 16:26
1. Isn't grief a way of showing how much we care about a loved one who has passed away?

2. Doesn't this kind of powerful emotional reaction bind the human race together, keep us from becoming a race of loners, like tigers?

3. Isn't it feelings like this that make us human?

4. If we didn't have strong emotions binding us together, would the human race die out?

Esho
19 Feb 11, 17:00
Hi Snowmelt,

Good post... just some quick ideas about this issues that have came to my mind:

As a personal experience with the only one that by now has passed away; my father. He went through a very horrible lung cancer before he passed away. I knew how much suffering he was having because of the lung cancer. One very sad Monday coming back from the job I found him laying in the floor already dead and my brother screaming like crazy. I saw his curpose and what I saw was not my father but just a curpose. Something was not there any more.

I felt in some way liberated because I knew his suffering had come to an end. Later on, after a few days I stared to cry my father's death. I still missed him a lot. I think we react different depending in the circumstances of the specific moment and the person that passes away. I don't know how I will react if my mom passes away now or my couple, but there will be always grief and I don't think it is wrong to feel it.

I read in some of the Thai Nhat Hanh books about feeling a deep grief when his mother passed away. I don't think that non-attachment leads to not feeling grief if a loved one, a significant one, passes away. Another important person that passed away and for whom I cried several days was a wonderfull teacher I had at the University. Again, I miss him a lot. He was an extraordinary man for me.

I can not tell that grief is just about humans. I know of some studies given by the field of ethology that elephants gather around a dead member for a while until they leave. This can not be told as "human grief" but it is really impressive to see this.

As with consciousness, I think that we are just much more complex in our emotional mixtures and responses to things but as anything that lives, evolves and emotions and its responses have evolved within us. So, just as an hypothesis, I think there is a subtle kind of grief in other "complex" social animals.

Human feelings makes us humans and elephant feelings make them elephants and both, they and we, are surly bind together because feelings and many other things that come together too.

;D


edited to create spacing in block of text.

Snowmelt
19 Feb 11, 17:09
Your post touches my heart, Kaarine ... and it is illuminating as well. Thanks.

Esho
19 Feb 11, 17:14
Your post touches my heart, Kaarine ... and it is illuminating as well. Thanks.

Your wellcome Snowmelt... :hug:

Aloka
19 Feb 11, 18:03
I think that its inevitable that we will feel some grief at the loss of a loved one. However its clinging on to the grief and loss, and not fully accepting impermanence, which becomes the cause of further distress.

:hands:

plogsties
19 Feb 11, 18:37
Your question indicates one of the reasons why I would not want to be "liberated" in the sense that this idea is often portrayed, probably inaccurately and not in keeping with Buddha’s teachings. Some of the written material I’ve read about ”liberation” generates an image of a person who no longer responds to the emotions which make him human. I realize that this is probably not what the Buddha intended but the language used to describe the state of “liberation” implies, for me, a state of no suffering, which I consider humanly impossible and undesirable.

It seems to me that joy is possible only if there is sadness and to be able to experience the awesome joy of life, of the beauty of the world we live in, we must also be able to experience intense sadness. A world that is uniformly gray is unattractive to me and I wouldn’t want to live in it.

The image of a Guru on a mountaintop – a caricature that each of us has seen – suggests a degree of dissociation from life that is extreme and, quite honestly, unrealistic unless one wishes to be an ascetic, a hermit. I don’t believe “the middle way” is consistent with this sort of image. In the same way, I’m not at all sure that striving to eliminate the pain of being alive and having a consciousness is consistent with “the middle way”; it is a wish and a “cop-out”, a way of choosing to ignore reality.

frank
19 Feb 11, 18:52
1. Isn't grief a way of showing how much we care about a loved one who has passed away?

Does "passed away" mean died. It is exactly this meallie mouthed way of expressing death which obscures the issue

2. Doesn't this kind of powerful emotional reaction bind the human race together, keep us from becoming a race of loners, like tigers?

It certainly keeps us in chains if that's what you mean.

3. Isn't it feelings like this that make us human?

Now it's feeling like this that indicate an absence of truth

4. If we didn't have strong emotions binding us together, would the human race die out?

Well it would seem the race is on,we either annihilate ourselves or we evolve to be more 'Spiritually' advanced beings

frank
19 Feb 11, 18:56
It seems to me that joy is possible only if there is sadness and to be able to experience the awesome joy of life, of the beauty of the world we live in, we must also be able to experience intense sadness. A world that is uniformly gray is unattractive to me and I wouldn't want to live in it.
Plogsties,as we all know all feeling are transitory. Unless you want to perpetuate this round of rebirth then there's only one option. I'II leave you to work that out for yourself.

plogsties
19 Feb 11, 19:33
all feeling are transitory. Unless you want to perpetuate this round of rebirth
Everything human is transitory and I personally don't believe "rebirth" occurs (and if it does it makes no difference to me anyway). Ergo neither of these considerations could change my view of this sort of thing. I won't act on an option that I cannot evaluate - rebirth, if used in the sense of being born again after dying.

Aloka
19 Feb 11, 20:01
Ajahn Sumedho talks about his mother's death:




"When my own mother died, I was with the feeling of loss and grief. It can be witnessed. I wasn’t afraid or trying to ignore my feelings. They interested me. To have this ability to really accept my feelings, I had to train myself, because my conditioning was the reverse. On a cultural level, I’d been conditioned to suppress feelings, to deny or ignore them. It has taken intentional, deliberate effort to look, observe and allow feelings of loss or grief into consciousness. This doesn’t mean a grasping of feelings or wallowing in emotions. It’s seeing things in terms of Dhamma. It is what it is. The death of one’s mother is like this.

Of course, now her death is a memory. But when it was still a shock, during the funeral experience, I was confident enough in meditation to use the experience of loss in terms of Dhamma. Instead of rejecting or denying the unpleasant side of life—death or decay, ugliness, unfairness, all the miseries that one experiences—I have found that all of these, when seen through awareness, are the most powerful learning and strengthening experiences one can have.

We really have to determine to recognize and open to that which is emotionally fraught, that which is very powerful, overwhelming, frightening or threatening. Yet through the confidence of awareness, we begin to observe how these difficult situations affect the mind, the heart. What is the feeling? It’s not right or wrong. A feeling is what it is, and only we can know it. If we trust our awareness, we know it’s like this. We don’t need to have a word for it or define it in any way, because it is what it is. This is not cultural conditioning or the ego. It is direct knowing."

http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/ItsLikeThis.html


There's also a talk from Ajahn Sumedho about death, separation, and grief - and also a question and answer session here:

http://www.dhammatalks.org.uk/index.php?id=40&file_id=736

:hands:

Esho
19 Feb 11, 20:02
The image of a Guru on a mountaintop – a caricature that each of us has seen – suggests a degree of dissociation from life that is extreme and, quite honestly, unrealistic unless one wishes to be an ascetic, a hermit.

Hi plogsties, I think that what has been commented here by Dazz is really easy to understand:


I think that its inevitable that we will feel some grief at the loss of a loved one. However its clinging on to the grief and loss, and not fully accepting impermanence, which becomes the cause of further distress.

What the issue is about is not to become a kind of machine void of emotions but to understand those emotions toward our feelings. To be liberated not from our feelings but what we add to them that cause further useless distress, confusion and suffering.

;D

Esho
19 Feb 11, 20:04
Ajahn Sumedho talks about his mother's death:

Thanks Dazz,

;D

plogsties
19 Feb 11, 20:35
What the issue is about is not to become a kind of machine void of emotions but to understand those emotions toward our feelings
Kaarine, I understand this - my point is that, when written about (as in Frank's post) it is often written in this cold way. Can we not write about appropriate responses to grief - no matter what the measure of appropriateness is - rather than writing about the transitory nature of it - as if it is no big deal when, in fact, it is. Regardless, if a life without pain and grief is what a person is wanting they may find it, but something is going to be lost in the process and this something, in my view, is very important.

frank
19 Feb 11, 20:47
Regardless, if a life without pain and grief is what a person is wanting they may find it, but something is going to be lost in the process and this something, in my view, is very important
I'm not denying that we feel an amount of sadness but it's very important not to get lost in these emotions. So then the question becomes where do we draw any line between out and out grief and apparent cold indifference? Do we wallow in grief and when is it permissible to stop?
I would suggest that it's better not to get lost in this stuff

Snowmelt
19 Feb 11, 23:03
I think that its inevitable that we will feel some grief at the loss of a loved one. However its clinging on to the grief and loss, and not fully accepting impermanence, which becomes the cause of further distress.

It seems so to me, as well. Yet, Ananda wasn't considered fully liberated until he gave up grieving at the Buddha's death, until he became like the other disciples who felt no grief. Right?

Snowmelt
19 Feb 11, 23:07
Well it would seem the race is on,we either annihilate ourselves or we evolve to be more 'Spiritually' advanced beings

Your post needs editing, Frank, so that it doesn't look like I said what you said. ;D I will still respond, either way, but I have to get ready to go out now.

Cloud
20 Feb 11, 23:19
I think emotions and thoughts are just two sides of the same coin. We can be emotionally attached and act from that base; or we can have thoughts that, through right view, lead us to acting. I don't think that being liberated from attachment leads to a lack of caring, but rather it's caring that's driven by discernment of a reality where we're not separate.

Balgore
01 Mar 11, 17:55
Your question indicates one of the reasons why I would not want to be "liberated" in the sense that this idea is often portrayed, probably inaccurately and not in keeping with Buddha’s teachings. Some of the written material I’ve read about ”liberation” generates an image of a person who no longer responds to the emotions which make him human. I realize that this is probably not what the Buddha intended but the language used to describe the state of “liberation” implies, for me, a state of no suffering, which I consider humanly impossible and undesirable.

It seems to me that joy is possible only if there is sadness and to be able to experience the awesome joy of life, of the beauty of the world we live in, we must also be able to experience intense sadness. A world that is uniformly gray is unattractive to me and I wouldn’t want to live in it.

The image of a Guru on a mountaintop – a caricature that each of us has seen – suggests a degree of dissociation from life that is extreme and, quite honestly, unrealistic unless one wishes to be an ascetic, a hermit. I don’t believe “the middle way” is consistent with this sort of image. In the same way, I’m not at all sure that striving to eliminate the pain of being alive and having a consciousness is consistent with “the middle way”; it is a wish and a “cop-out”, a way of choosing to ignore reality.

Interesting views, and I must say I have to agree with them. How can we have love and joy without something to compare it to (hate and pain). I wonder sometimes, if being enlightened, to really truly be absolved of all suffering, if it does mean to have NO emotion whatsoever. because with any emotions (even love), suffering, grief, etc. will follow no matter what.

I believe it is humanly possible to eventually condition your mind to be emotionless. That is not a desireable state, as you mentioned plogsties. But I wonder if that is what it takes to truly become "enlightened", or if enlightenment allows for emotions as long as you maintain total control over the negative ones?

Anyway, is it even possible to be completely unsufferable... Surely if you physically torture even the most enlightened person, they will feel pain. But do they have a mental/psychological breaking point as well?

Now you have brought all these questions and thoughts to mind plogsties. I am curious what others and you have to say about them?

Snowmelt
02 Mar 11, 19:22
Is it possible to experience the death of a loved one without pain? When I think about it, it seems not impossible that one could feel joy that a person lived and remember them with love and joy, but without experiencing pain because they are gone.

I do not believe that the absence of grief indicates that we are cold, emotionless, or inhuman.

Some consider grief to be culturally relative. I recall Ajahn Brahm saying that he observed lack of grief in the event of a loved one's death, in Thailand. They loved each other while alive (and perhaps hated each other as well ;D ), but did not grieve when life ended. When I think about it, this seems possible.

Why do we grieve when a loved one dies?

Perhaps in part because our own being has changed so much through knowing and loving them. They have become part of us, and we feel that part of our self has died. But, if we know that none of what we perceive is self, then how can a part of our self have died?

Another reason is perhaps that we depended upon them in some way, perhaps emotionally, and now we have lost our support. But, if we rely not on others but on the Dhamma for support, and see the world as it really is, then we do not lose our support when they die.

Another reason is perhaps that we are sad that they can no longer live and experience the joys of life, or even the pains of life. We are sad for them. I don't have a ready answer for this one, though I suspect an answer can be found.

Another reason may be that we wonder what will become of us now, particularly if the family breadwinner is gone, and we are afraid of the future. Again, in such a case, reliance on the Dhamma can counter or eliminate such fear.

Perhaps the major reason for grieving for a loved one is that we have not given up wanting the world to be permanent, wanting it to be the same as a fantasy we have created in our own mind, where for example perhaps our parents always stay together, never argue, never die, and what we know and depend on will always be present, always be the same.

These are all the reason I can think of, off-hand. But, it seems to me that being liberated in the Buddhist sense would counter all of these reasons. So, I think we can be quite human and still not grieve.

Snowmelt
02 Mar 11, 19:30
If I remember rightly, the liberated person is emotionally different to the worldling. Their emotional range, as I recall, is narrower, encompassing only the four "divine abodes" (brahmaviharas): loving-kindness, compassion, joy in the success of another, and equanimity.

Narrower an arahant's emotional range may be, but it is the emotions that can lead to harm that have been left behind. From all accounts, the arahant can feel these four emotions with a depth and intensity the worldling cannot imagine.

With regard to emotions that can lead to harm: even (worldly) love can do that. Isn't love the reason for a lot of the hatred between, for example, Palestine and Israel? "You killed my loved one ... and nothing can satisfy me but taking violent revenge on your loved one."