Freedom is "to be free IN all conditions..."
It is NOT "to be free FROM any of them!"

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Is life suffering or illusion?

The Buddha is often quoted as saying that life is suffering or illusion. 

DID he ever say that though?

Surely, many of us have been made so dependent that they cannot seem to do anything else anymore but respond to the expectations of competitiveness, survival syndromes as well as the demands and obligations of consumerism and commercialism with all its illusive conditioning and conditionalizing. Many of us have been tricked and/or coerced into a life of giving in to manufactured desires and manipulated fears.
But should that be called life, shouldn't it rather be called a surrogate of life... pseudo-life... illusion?

This pseudo-life is by no means a recent development in the history of humankind. The Buddha discovered already some 2700 years ago how adverse degenerating dynamics had been used by some who employed illusive and deluding – foremostly mental – manipulations in their attempts to alter and modify the way humans relate with each other. They were able to pit humans against humans in such a manner as to create dependency and servitude fueled by desire and greed, fear and anxiety.

The Buddha saw this dynamic as a modifying, manipulative and manipulated overlay on life and identified it as the exploitation and affliction of suffering or
duḥkha (Sanskrit दुःख).
The Buddha himself did not consider life per se to be suffering, rather it were his subsequent not fully understanding followers and commentators who came to that unfortunate conclusion, they even came to read suffering into every form of existence... even going so far as talking about cosmic versions of suffering.

This is not how the Buddha and some of his equally enlightened followers saw it (Avalokiteshvara / Quan Yin and Nagarjuna). To them life was sacrosanct per se.

The negative attempts to hide or blemish that sacrosanctness do not touch life itself. The attempts do not even touch the inner living being of any human who has been made to suffer, in spite of how religious or social manipulators of power insist that it does. The attempts though do form an illuding appearance, a sort of envelop around life that hampers individuals to remain in a state self-awareness or to stay in touch with their authentic self *.
It is true though that to most of us this pseudo-life feels more real than the reality of life in itself...
For most that illusiveness has taken on the appearance of reality although it is no more than a make-belief replica of it!
For as long as someone is seemingly disabled to see that distinction, suffering will persist for that person. 

* That may be why people who have come to an acknowledgment that they acted inappropriately and against their best instincts can say, "I was not being myself when I did such and such..."


Barry commented:
Wim, let me quote our friend Nico: "The Buddha said (as been stated recently and I transcribe by memory) that birth, grow and death are tied to suffering. Shall we take it as a pill without questioning any other true related to such a statement." I think you two are on the same page when questioning that pill, By the way what Nico transcribed from memory is from the Buddha's actual talk to his 5 companions whom he walked away from and who were into self mortification just like  Siddhartha was just before he awakened under the bodhi tree. It was them he approached first and he convinced them to stop their extreme ways. Consider his audience. This is his first speech referred to as the 'Turning the Wheel of Dhamma'. He told them there are two dead ends:
  1. Infatuation and 
  2. Mortification. 
He considered the first to be vulgar and the second painful. He went on to talk about his middle way and the eightfold path:
"It is a path that generates vision and awareness. It leads to tranquility, insight, awakening, and release. It has eight branches..." *
Then he went into his 4 Nobel Truths:
"This is suffering:
  • birth is painful,
  • aging is painful,
  • sickness is painful,
  • death is painful,
Encountering what is not dear is painful, separation from what is dear is painful, not getting what one wants is painful. This psycho-physical condition is painful."
Then he talked about craving (I suppose Wim you would call it drama) then cessation of the craving (or drama) and then the path with its eight branches. The 5 guys bought it and decided that their path was a dead end and so they commenced with cessation of self-mortification and took the middle path (Hinayana). They choose a path that
"...generates vision and awareness. It leads to tranquility, insight, awakening, and release."
Once you know your self on that eightfold path then do not look back into the drama or the pain from there it is all Wisdom and Compassion as designated by the Eightfold Path and nobody describes it better then you do Wim, because you integrate it with "The Three Refuges." I love the way you did that in your: The Buddha's "Eightfold Path" and "The Three Refuges" * Appendix III  'Confession of a Buddhist Atheist' by Stephen Batchelor

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