The Buddha’s bluff
Suffering signals system’s malfunction Bodhangkur
Was the Buddha bluffing…..
1. When he claimed that suffering (i.e. dukkha1,2) was caused by impermanence (i.e. annica)? 3
2. When he claimed that suffering was caused by desire?
3. When he claimed that suffering was caused by the intoxicants, such as greed, hatred and delusion?4
4. That suffering was caused by birth, old age, sickness and death?
5. That suffering was caused because life lacked an eternal essence (or intrinsic nature, i.e. anatta)?5
Of course the Buddha was bluffing.6 Simple discrete observation indicates that suffering (as in personal distress) results not from the above as such but from adverse relative conditions,7 that is to say, from conditions that impede personal survival.8
But the Buddha’s bluff was a good yarn, good enough to satisfy the knowledge and salvation needs of a primitive age and of a selection9 naive and ignorant people.10
And karma?11 Another bluff borrowed from the wild philosophical speculations that are the Upanishads.
And rebirth?12 Another bluff borrowed from the Upanishads
And Nirvana.13 Yet another bluff invented to offer closure, i.e. a peaceful ending to, hence salvation for the distressed.
© 2018 Victor Langheld, alias Bodhangkur
1. What the Pali term dukkha means is anyone’s guess. It appears to cover all experiences from unpleasantness to misery.
2. He claimed, falsely, with the Upanishads, that only permanence (to wit abiding hence intrinsic nature) could offer sukkah, i.e. pleasure and so on.
3. The causes of suffering the Buddha gives are superficial, hence obvious to the simple folk he hoped to attract to his salvation cult.
4. Like all intoxicants, such as alcohol and drugs, the Buddhist intoxicants distract attention (i.e. mindfulness) from other causes of suffering, such as impermanence and the fundamental emptiness of phenomena. The Buddha early discovered, with many intelligent people, that biological life is an absurdity, hence sorrowful to endure. To distract from that pain he recommended meditation practices that produced mild to severe coma states (i.e. the Jhanas).
5. In short that life was empty (Sanskrit: sunja) of an abiding substance. If the Sanskrit term sunja is translated as absurd rather than empty then the sorrowfulness of life resulting from its absurdity is easily understood. Nagarjuna, the Brahmin masquerading as a Mahayana Buddhist, clearly understood sunja to mean absurd since he goes to endless lengths to demonstrate the absurdity of all Buddhist dharmas.
6. He wasn’t the only one bluffing. So were the inventors of the Upanishads, Samkya Yoga, Jainism and so on in India and numerous other philosophical and psychological entrepreneurs in Persia, Greece, Israel and China. To this day no one knows the source of life and its purpose, if any. Since this lack of knowledge, this knowledge black hole is painful to most humans, science and religious fiction writers (such as Darwin and Moses) oblige by bluffing it out with fanciful explanations that distract and satisfy the naïve.
7. From transient conditional arising.
8. The Buddha didn’t have a clue as to the fundamental (or ground function) cause of personal suffering. Suffering arises as one part of a binary Guide & Control mechanism that serves to help a bio-system adapt to adverse conditions and upgrade its capacity for self-regulation and so its survival.
9. Those who would be caste free, for instance mainly the urban poor. With the decay of urban centres between 400 and 7ooAD Buddhism began its terminal decline. Notwithstanding the invention of the Mahayana bluff.
10. Better a bluff (i.e. a good yarn = sutra, to wit, a placebo) that satisfies an immediate need rather than no yarn that leaves one in a painful limbo. His bluff was akin to that used by parents who give their child a phoney answer because the either don’t know the answer or the child is too immature to cope with the answer.
11. Basically meaning ‘You get what you deserve!’, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap!’ This general and vague idea first popped up out of the blue in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, approx. 800BC The off-the cuff notion of Karma was then developed by politically minded Brahmins into a full blown ‘TRUTH’ that purported to explain the injustice (or justice) of life, thus operating as a useful fiction. Though a case could be made for residual karmic effects in this life, karmic effects beyond lives has never been reliably demonstrated, specifically by evolutionists. But as non sequitur Karma makes for a comforting belief.
12. Rebirth! Another figment of human imagination, to wit, a red herring, that purports to explain things as they are and, in particular, that gives legitimacy to Tibetan shamans, including the Dalai Lama, to acquire power and wealth. (Endless) Rebirth is intended to take the sting out of the realisation of the absurdity (i.e. emptiness) of life.
13. Nirvana, just another myth as bluff/distraction and the ultimate Buddhist red herring. During his 40 year teaching career the Shakyamuni, to wit, Buddha, never once defined the term Nirvana. Indeed, the notion of Nirvana was a very late add-on since it is not crucial to achieving release from suffering (to wit, Samsara) and which was the Buddha’s stated goal.