In Search of Mortality

Submitted by Chris Webster on Sun, 2007/05/06 - 08:21
Straw Dogs

The Buddha sought salvation in the extinction of the self; but if there is no self, what is there to be saved?

Nirvana is the end of suffering; but this promises no more than what we all achieve, usually without too much effort, in the course of nature. Death brings to everyone the peace the Buddha promised after lifetimes of striving.

The Buddha sought release from the round of rebirth. E.M. Cioran writes:

The search for deliverance is justified only if we believe in transmigration, in the indefinite vagabondage of the self, and if we aspire to put an end to it. But for those of us who do not believe in this, what is there to put an end to? To this unique and infinitesimal duration? It is obviously too brief to deserve the exertion of withdrawing from it.

Why do other animals not seek deliverance from suffering? Is it that no one has told them they must live again? Or is it that, without needing to think about it, they know they will not? Cyril Connolly wrote: ‘Imagine a cow or a pig which rejected the body for a “noble eightfold way of self-enlightenment”. One would feel that the beast had made a false calculation.’

Buddhism is a quest for mortality. The Buddha promised his followers the freedom from sorrow that comes with not having to live again. For those who know themselves to be mortals, what the Buddha sought is always near at hand. Since deliverance is assured, why deny ourselves the pleasure of life?


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