Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Complete and explain the analogy between the potter's wheel and Sansara. Tarthang Tulku describes the mental aspect of Sansara as follows:

    When we have not trained our awareness, we cannot separate ourselves from these endlessly repeating patterns of thought. Without being aware of our awareness, we have no access to a reality beyond the contents of what we are thinking. We cannot recognize or communicate anything other than what the shifting stream of thought allows. Unable to act on a deeper inner knowledge, we become isolated and weak, and the self defeating quality of our isolation stimulates still more isolation.

    This unending circular karmic pattern, burdensome and hopeless, is what the Buddhist tradition calls samsara.[1]

    Characterize in some detail the objective aspects of Sansara in contemporary life.

  2. Explain the despair inherent in the "game-playing" attitude toward life. Why isn't the game of Sansara a game worth playing?

  3. Hesse writes, "Never before, had it become so strangely clear to Siddhartha, how closely lust was akin to death." Susan Sontag notes a similar point:

    Tamed as it may be, sexuality remains one of the demonic forces in human consciousness—pushing us at intervals close to taboo and dangerous desires, which range from the impulse to commit sudden arbitrary violence upon another person to the voluptuous yearning for the extinction of one's consciousness, for death itself.[2]

    What do psychoanalysts write about the relation between passion and death?



Tarthang Tulku. Mastering Successful Work. Berkeley, CA: Dharma Press, 1994. 42-43.


Susan Sontag. Styles of Radical Will. New York: Farrar Straus, 1969.