reply to post by dontreally
I appreciate your considerate reply. It seems you are more open to these ideas then before even if you still do not agree with them, and that is
great. I would like to just clarify a few things that may help if I could.
1. You have no independent self, that is an illusion. Your mind (beliefs, opinions, emotions...) is like water, it is shaped by its surrounding
environment. Sure you have an instinctual drive that underlies the mind, but that too was created and shaped by your surrounding environment. We, as
in the mind and body, are mere reflections of our surroundings, thus we are not independent of them. You and me may appear (to the unenlightened mind)
to have different characteristics but we both share the same qualities of the mind and body, maybe on different levels or at different times due to
environmental circumstances. We both share the feelings of anger, joy, envy, love, hatred, serenity... We both share the desire's of sex, survival,
freedom, happiness... The story of The Garden of Eden pertains to this illusion of independent self as well, that is why Adam and Eve were "kicked
out of the garden". To transcend this illusion of self one must shed the attachment to the independent mind and body and realize the truth of
Self/God/Brahman.The Buddha never emphasized these words of "Self/God/Brahman" only because he felt they distracted the seeker from achieving
liberation. He felt liberation could be achieved without the need to focus on these things, but he never denounced them as untrue, he simply just
never addressed them in a satisfactory manner for the person who sought these answers of what is "Self/God/Brahman".
2. Humans only appear to be above their surroundings (other animals) because we live inside of this illusion of independent self and attach our
existence to that of the ego's. You said Humans are separate from animals because we have the ability to recognize "I exist." and they don't. This
is not true and if you look into some studies of behaviorism of animals you can see they also have they ability to recognize the "I exist"
phenomena. This has repeatedly been shown as true in dogs, cats, dolphins, rats... and so on. The strength of this "I exist" phenomena may be
stronger in humans, or it may just be that the human mind cannot fully grasp the level of consciousness that our surroundings have/share. Plants, and
even cells and atoms, may also have this ability to recognize the "I exist" phenomena but again we may not be able to recognize this within them. It
is a common misperception, even in Buddhism, that animals cannot also become enlightened but they can. Again it may be more difficult for them, it may
be that our level of consciousness is "stronger", or it may be that our minds cannot fully grasp their level of consciousness. This idea of animals
being lesser in Buddhism started later on in the Mahayana school (larger vehicle) and did not apply in the earlier school of Hinayana (smaller
vehicle) that the
Shakyamuni Buddha taught.
3. You are correct, the Buddha was driven by the realization of suffering to seek liberation. This is the essential basis for Buddhism, to reach
liberation from suffering. But to continuously fixate on the notion that "everything is suffering" does not enable the seeker to transcend
suffering, rather it only enables the seeker to realize that there is no salvation from suffering in this world. The Buddha gave over 84,000 teachings
because he continuously sought to find new ways to help people find liberation, and this teaching of "everything is suffering" was only a part of
the first teaching, being the Four Noble Truths. Also the word "suffering" does not perfectly translate from his more ancient language, as many
words don't, and we must remember this.
Have a good week friend.