Here I would like to investigate into the question what may be valid reasons for one being interested in buddhism today.
There are many religious beliefs cultivated in the context of buddhism by followes of buddhism which do not comply with what one can validly know
E.g. Religious believers of buddhism claim that buddhism leads to the cessation of suffering through cessation of the cycle of rebirths. But since rebirth
cannot be validly understood non-metaphorically what might it be that ceases to be 'reborn' metaphorically?
Also, is 'suffering' a valid translation of dukkha
? If it were then according to buddhism everything in life would be suffering. But based on direct perception and inference one can validly know that suffering is only a potential aspect of life.
So what is dukkha that can be ended according to buddhism really?
A possible way to investigate into 'dukkha' would be to look up what is to be eliminated by the buddhist path according to authentic budddhist texts.
What is to be eliminated by the buddhist path?
Here are the categories and their elements indicating what has to be eliminated on the path to liberation. Of course these categories are partially overlapping:
1. Asava (fermentations, effluents, outflows, taints):
fermentation of sensuality
fermentation of becoming
fermentation of ignorance
2. Kilesa (defilements — in their various forms):
3. Nivarana (hindrances):
sensual desire (kamacchanda)
sloth and drowsiness (thina-middha)
restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
4. Fetters (sanyojana, samyojana):
grasping at precepts & practices
passion for form
passion for what is formless
So one may conclude that the presence of all these elements is what characterises dukkha and the absence of all these elements is what characterises cessation of dukkha.
But then, why should one be interested in getting rid of these elements?
There is really no valid reason based on valid direct perception and inference why one should decide 'I want to get rid of all these aspects of dukkha'.
If one wants to get rid of something or - positively expressed - if one wants to achieve something then that 'something' must be a directly perceptible phenomenon acccessible to one's direct perception without having to undergo the brain-washing of a philosophy or ideology before.
So it turns out that is really a matter of asking oneself: what do I expect from life? And: Is there something about buddhism that can be useful to achieve what I want to achieve in life or what I want to get rid of to make life more comfortable?
The basic question of what dukkha
can stand for would seem to be: Is there persistent unease in my life? Is there a persistent unease that spoils too many aspects of life?
What might be the cause of that unease? Discontent, hatred and aversion, depression, fear of death, timidity, general fearfulness, insatiable greed, frustration because of never getting exactly what one wants, unsatisfied sexual desires, unsatisfied material desires, unsatisfied aesthetic desires, desire in general ... ?
I think that unease
is perhaps the best translation of dukkha
. It leaves open what may cause this unease in a specific individual and is empty of the exaggeraton 'suffering'.
So it is up to investigate for every individual whether there is a persistent, maybe only subliminal unease in its life that spoils too much. If present, this unease could be directly perceived by means of introspection and thus could be validly known in contrast to all these phenomena that do appear quite technical and contrived due to buddhist nomenclature.
If there is no unease at all then buddhism is of no use. If there is no unease then actually one should neither be interested in buddhism nor interested in any kind of irrational religious belief.