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Beyond Coping

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Title: Beyond Coping: The Buddha's Teachings on Aging, Illness, Death, and Separation

Summary:

Beyond Coping

The Buddha's Teachings on Aging, Illness, Death, and Separation

A Study Guide

by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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<!– robots content='none' –> <!– the following list is brought to you in living color by GetHList() –> <ul class='hlist'>

<li class='first'>Intro</li>
<li>[[medicine|Part I]]</li>
<li>[[diagnosis|Part II]]</li>
<li>[[heedfulness|Part III]]</li>
<li>[[advice|Part IV]]</li>
<li>[[examples|Part V]]</li>

</ul>

<h1>Introduction &nbsp;<a title=“Go to top of page” class='back' href=“#top” name='intro' id=“intro”>&nbsp;</a></h1> <p>An anthropologist once questioned an Eskimo shaman about his tribe's belief system. After putting up with the anthropologist's questions for a while, the shaman finally told him: “Look. We don't believe. We fear.”

In a similar way, Buddhism starts, not with a belief, but with a fear of very present dangers. As the Buddha himself reported, his initial impetus for leaving home and seeking Awakening was his comprehension of the great dangers that inevitably follow on birth: aging, illness, death, and separation. The Awakening he sought was one that would lead him to a happiness not subject to these things. After finding that happiness, and in attempting to show others how to find it for themselves, he frequently referred to the themes of aging, illness, death, and separation as useful objects for contemplation. Because of this, his teaching has often been called pessimistic, but this emphasis is actually like that of a doctor who focuses on the symptoms and causes of disease as part of an effort to bring about a cure. The Buddha is not afraid to dwell on these topics, because the Awakening he teaches brings about a total release from them.

This study guide provides an introduction to the Buddha's teachings on aging, illness, death, and separation. The passages included here — all taken from the Pali canon — are arranged in five sections.</p> <ol> <li> <p>The first section presents medical metaphors for the teaching, showing how the Buddha was like a doctor and how his teaching is like a course of therapy offering a cure for the great dangers in life.</p></li> <li> <p>The second section diagnoses the problems of aging, illness, death, and separation. This section touches briefly on the Buddha's central teaching, the four noble truths. For more information on this subject, see <i>The Path to Freedom</i> and the study guide, <i>The Four Noble Truths.</i></p></li> <li> <p>The third section contains passages that use aging, illness, death, and separation, as reminders for diligence in the practice. The central passage here is a set of five recollections, in which recollection of aging, illness, death, and separation forms a background for a fifth recollection: the power of one's actions to shape one's experience. In other words, the first four recollections present the dangers of life; the fifth indicates the way in which those dangers may be overcome, through developing skill in one's own thoughts, words, and deeds. Useful articles to read in conjunction with this section are <i>Affirming the Truths of the Heart, Karma,</i> and <i>The Road to Nirvana is Paved with Skillful Intentions.</i></p></li> <li> <p>The fourth section contains passages that give specific advice on how to deal with problems of aging, etc. The Buddha's teachings on kamma provide an important underpinning for how problems of pain and illness are approached in this section. Given the fact that the experience of the present moment is shaped both by past and by present intentions, it is possible that — if an illness is the result of present intentions — a change of mind can effect a cure in the illness; but if the illness is the result of past intentions, a change of mind may have no effect on the illness but can at least protect the mind from being adversely affected by it. Thus some of the passages focus how practicing the Dhamma can cure a person of illness, whereas others focus on how the Dhamma can ensure that, even though a person may die from an illness, the illness will make no inroads on the mind.</p></li> <li> <p>The fifth section gives examples of how the Buddha and his disciples skillfully negotiated the problems of aging, illness, death, and separation.</p></li> </ol>

<!– robots content='none' –> <!– the following list is brought to you in living color by GetHList() –> <ul class='hlist'>

<li class='first'>Intro</li>
<li>[[medicine|Part I]]</li>
<li>[[diagnosis|Part II]]</li>
<li>[[heedfulness|Part III]]</li>
<li>[[advice|Part IV]]</li>
<li>[[examples|Part V]]</li>

</ul>

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<b>Provenance:</b>

	<div id="F_sourceCopy">The source of this work is the gift within Access to Insight "Offline Edition 2012.09.10.14", last replication 12. March 2013, generously given by John Bullitt and mentioned as: ©1999 Metta Forest Monastery.</div>
	<div id="F_sourceEdition"></div>
	<div id="F_sourceTitle">Transcribed from a file provided by the author.</div>
	<div id="F_atiCopy">This Zugang zur Einsicht edition is <img width="8" src="./../../../img/d2.png" alt="[dana/©]" class='cd'/>2013 (ATI 1999-2013).</div>
	<div id="F_zzeCopy">Translations, rebublishing, editing and additions are in the sphere of responsibility of <em>Zugang zur Einsicht</em>.</div>
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<div id="F_termsOfUse"><b>Scope of this Dhamma-Gift:</b> You are invited to not only use this Dhamma-Gift here for yourself but also to share it, and your merits with it, again as a Dhamma gift and to copy, reformat, reprint, republish and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available <em>free of charge</em>; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this "Scope of this Dhamma-Gift" in any copies or derivatives of this work. Anything beyond this is not given here.		For additional information about this license, see the [[en:faq#copyright|FAQ]].
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<div id="F_citation"><b>How to cite this document</b> (one suggested style): "Beyond Coping: The Buddha's Teachings on Aging, Illness, Death, and Separation", by  Thanissaro Bhikkhu. <i>Access to Insight</i>, 23 April 2012, [[http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/beyondcoping/index.html|http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/beyondcoping/index.html]] . Retrieved on 10 September 2012 (Offline Edition 2012.09.10.14), republished by <i>Zugang zur Einsicht</i> on &nbsp;

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en/lib/study/beyondcoping/index.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/14 04:26 by Johann