6/10 and 6/17

Kim Mosely has kindly put up the following audios of our discussions:

The file names have been changed:


You can also go to:


to see all the recordings.


Last week we began and next week we will probably conclude talking
about the very important Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (the Turning of
the wheel of Dhamma), pp. 75-8 in the book, also found on-line at
or in audio here:

Perhaps the following week, soon anyway, we will talk about the famous 
Kalama Sutta, which has been called "The Buddha's charter of free 
inquiry." This can be found here:
or pp. 88-91 in the book.



3 Responses to “6/10 and 6/17”

  1. Nevitt Resor Says:


    I wonder how you would respond to the following viewpoint.

    The best life is one lived in high tension, where one experiences the extremes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction! Yes, of course, this sort of life will be filled with suffering, but this is no argument against suffering! Quite the contrary. The strong person will enthusiastically embrace suffering as a condition of experiencing the fullness that life has to offer! Certainly one must impose some coherence and structure on one’s life, but this is just to say that one must choose where to focus one’s energies. Once one has made this choice, one should throw oneself into one’s projects exuberantly and without reservation, grasping by the roots every bit of passion that one can find. And when great suffering comes as necessary consequence of this choice, one should not merely resign oneself to it; one should grasp this suffering as well and drink it down to its dregs!

    The desire to eliminate suffering reveals an exhausted soul no longer capable of engaging life. Perhaps Buddhism is the best path for the weak, but it should not be imposed on those still capable of living a passionate human life.


    • bhikkhucintita Says:


      If I was trying to sell something, be it a snazzy car, the latest iGizzmo, cocaine, booze, escort services, a political candidate, heroin, a war, blood pressure medicine, weaponry or sleeping pills this is the guy I would try to sell it to. If I were looking for a good reliable friend, I would avoid this guy like a hornets’ nest.

      Are you playing devil’s advocate? Or is this a real quote?


      • Nevitt Reesor Says:


        I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I hope this isn’t the impression I gave you. The view I summarized is a very attenuated representation of my interpretation of Nietzsche, and as such is bound to be limited and unfair to him. Furthermore, Nietzsche is notoriously difficult to understand, so my interpretation may be incorrect. Even so, I have spent a great deal of time reading him and trying to understand his view as fairly as possible.

        So, on my view Nietzsche (henceforth ‘N’) believes that suffering is simply the ticket price for living a fully engaged, passionate, creative human life, which deploys all an individual’s capabilities to their fullest. To avoid suffering, to seek to eliminate it, is cowardly, inasmuch as it exhibits an unwillingness or inability to pay the cost of a truly great life. We should not seek suffering, but neither should we avoid it. We should, as I said before, embrace it as an unavoidable feature of the exuberant life.

        N would reject all of the lifestyles you list above (with the possible exception of war; this one is controversial in N scholarship) as having any true creative value. N’s favorite human exemplars were artists, and his favorite artists were Goethe and Beethoven, more the former than the latter. According to N, they exhibited the characteristics I’ve outline, probably more than any other persons of his time. They had a coherent drive or set of drives, which motivated them to create great works of art. They deployed all their capabilities, all their passions, all their strength toward their creative projects; they left nothing in reserve. They suffered greatly in the creative process. Not that they sought suffering, but, again, suffering was simply a necessary consequence of their efforts. They accepted, even more than accepted, they embraced their suffering, and this enhanced their creative output. Had they not suffered so and embraced it so fully, they would not have been able to produce some of the most magnificent works the world has ever seen. And this sort of life requires tremendous discipline and strength of will, something at least some in the list of characters you mention above would almost certainly lack.

        I present this view, not in order to be fractious or disagreeable, but because I believe N’s concern was fundamentally the same as the Buddha’s, namely, what to do about the fact that human life is fundamentally characterized by suffering. In my view, he took a direction diametrically opposed to the Buddha’s, but I think it’s still worth considering. N didn’t write much about Buddhism, and it seems clear that he misunderstood it in important ways. Nevertheless, if he actually understood Buddhism, I think he would say that it dilutes or dissolves the most essential, powerful, and creative powers of the human spirit and would finally strip a person of her humanity.

        I personally am more attracted to Buddhism than to N, but I’m a bit haunted by the fact that N would probably say that this is because I lack the strength of will to affirm the fullness of life in the way he recommends. In fact, most human beings, I believe N would say, lack such strength. This is why there are so few truly great artists and other creative people. So, he might say, Buddhism is fine for the rest of us.


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