Is buddhism pessimistic?
The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, the first of which is that life has as its nature to have dukkha. Dukkha has been poorly translated into English as "suffering". However, dukkha more accurately can be translated as "unsatisfactory". So, life has as its nature to be unsatisfactory, causing dis-ease, sorrow, anxiety, etc. This is the truth of dukkha. This Truth is also where people get stuck. They don’t seem to look at the rest of the Noble Truths. That there is a way out of Dukkha. The way out is the Noble Eightfold Path.
It is very easy to see the Buddhist teachings such as suffering, renunciation, death and impermanence as pessimistic. It is also very easy for both new and experienced Buddhist practitioners to develop pessimistic reactions in their contemplations. In my experience, I believe that the teachings really have an impact when it hits us in the heart, on an emotional level, and in non-conceptual ways. In this sense although it is important not to dwell in pessimism or sorrow from contemplating the truth, it is important to allow ourself to feel pessimistic and sorrowful as this is a natural reaction to the truth, and a necessary starting point for imbuing virtuous determinations with great power. The buddhist contemplations of suffering, death, impermanence, lower rebirth and so on are very extensive to understand it fully requires an understanding of the context or purpose of such teachings. The purpose is NOT to become pessimistic, depressed, or bogged down by crippling fear and hopelessne
I am a member of the SGI, a Buddhist lay organization which follows Nichiren Buddhism. We embrace cause and effect as the dominant law in our lives. Whatever causes you have made and are making create your life as you know it. Once you understand this, you cannot really be pessimistic, because you understand that you are in the driver’s seat and have full control of the future…a very encouraging thing! Whatever negativity exists within your life, which is creating pessimism, must be replaced by positive thoughts, words and actions. The way we actualize this is by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to polish our own wisdom to make productive, positive causes and develop ourselves. We also study to understand Buddhist principles of life, and we help other people to practice so they can also make positive causes for the future. We believe world peace will be achieved in this way, taking individual responsibility for the future, and assisting others to do the same. The SGI has millions of memb