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Thread: Is Buddhism Pessimistic?

  1. #1

    Is Buddhism Pessimistic?

    Dear friends,

    I was looking at this article from a number of years ago. What's your opinion? Do you think that Buddhism is pessimistic?

    https://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/126.htm



  2. #2
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    'Realistic' is a good term to use for Buddhism, but 'optimistic' would be much better. Most systems hand over control to other beings that you have to appease by behaving in certain ways. Buddhism hands us back control. We are the ones who can find out for ourselves, who go through meditation practices and who follow the path. We are the ones who change ourselves and so go on to have, at least for me, a much better quality of existence. Importantly, one that is attainable by everyone, not just a chosen few. When you see things as they really are for yourself you start living as human beings were meant to live, as individuals who are free from being told what it is they see. Now that's what I call optimistic, and why early Buddhists were known as 'the happy people'.

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    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
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    If I go to a doctor complaining of a sore throat and the doctor says, "The bad news is that you have strep throat. The good news is that it is curable," I would take that as optimistic. Buddhism is giving us essentially the same message: we have a problem that is causing us suffering, but it is curable.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

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    Hi,
    For what it's worth ...... I don't consider the teachings either optimistic or pessimistic.
    I think it just describes things as they are.
    The truth is what is.
    .... john

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    Yes, in the sense that it is preoccupied with the problem of suffering.

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    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KathyLauren View Post
    If I go to a doctor complaining of a sore throat and the doctor says, "The bad news is that you have strep throat. The good news is that it is curable," I would take that as optimistic. Buddhism is giving us essentially the same message: we have a problem that is causing us suffering, but it is curable.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy
    I like the way you framed your response, Kathy. That is exactly what Buddha is doing in The Four Noble Truths: "Life is suffering. There is a cause to our suffering. The cause is clinging to that which is impermanent out of our ignorance of the futility of our actions, which inevitably results in us being forever dissatisfied with our life conditions when repeatedly acting this stupidly out of our ignorance. Being informed that here is an effective solution, which will end our suffering. That solution is living our lives in accordance with The Noble Eight Fold Path.

    which is indeed similar to:....

    "You have the flu. Your sniffling, sneezing, coughing and hacking is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics will do you no good. There is no immediate cure. Your body will build up immunity with the help of your white blood cells, k-cells and t-cells. Drink chicken soup, take some anti-inflammatory drugs, and get plenty of rest to alleviate your symptoms. In the future stay away from public places and wash your hands with soap and water while singing your ABC's each time you use any public facilities. Wash again after use of handrails or door knobs in public places. Wear a particle respirator in public places. Get your flu shot every year, just before the flu season and you will reduce future infections.

    Nothing pessimistic about any of it! Very helpful advice if followed!

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