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Thread: Is the liberated person's lack of grief a cop-out?

  1. #1
    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?

  2. #2
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    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.




    edited to create spacing in block of text.

  3. #3
    Your post touches my heart, Kaarine ... and it is illuminating as well. Thanks.

  4. #4
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowmelt
    Your post touches my heart, Kaarine ... and it is illuminating as well. Thanks.
    Your wellcome Snowmelt...

  5. #5


    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.


  6. #6
    Forums Member plogsties's Avatar
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    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.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowmelt
    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

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by plogsties
    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.

  9. #9
    Forums Member plogsties's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank
    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.

  10. #10



    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....40&file_id=736


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