[Buddha-l] Being left alone to quietly die

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Mon Jun 7 10:18:29 MDT 2010

On Jun 7, 2010, at 4:07 AM, Catalina wrote:

> I guess I remember that Buddha said (I didn't hear it myself so it is not based on experience) that this is one of these questions that it doesn't matter to answer because we can not know and all answers will be just speculations. Anyway it is as it is ALREADY, it does not depend on what we think about it.

Furthermore, no matter what the answers to many questions are, nothing will change in the conditions that are producing discontent. So if one's main goal is to eliminate unhappiness, there are a lot of questions that become irrelevant.

There was a documentary called "The Examined Life" a while back that featured interviews with several philosophers. As an amateur philosopher without much sophistication, I found all of them interesting. One of the most interesting observations to me was by Slavoj Žižek, who was commenting on how (to use a different example from the one he used) people can watch oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico and watch birds caked with oil and dead dolphins washing up on shore and then go fill up the petrol tanks with gasoline, apparently oblivious of the fact that our own consumption of petroleum products is what makes people go out and risk damaging the environment to supply us with the products we crave. In that context, Žižek suggests we human beings are probably hard-wired to disregard the unwelcome consequences of our own decisions to act and not to act and that it may therefore be nearly impossible for people to learn from their most serious mistakes. 

If what Žižek says is true, it would not be especially good news for Buddhism. On the other hand, if what he says is true, most Buddhists will just keep practicing even though their practice bears no fruit, wastes time and makes them miss out on most of the joys of life. 


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