Buddhism – Week 2 – Suffering and the path

So – last week we talked about Suffering, and how it is universal. Like it or not, everyone will feel some suffering some time in their life. Suffering is the first of the Four Noble Truths that the Buddha talked about during his first sermon after reaching enlightenment.

1. Dukkha: There is suffering. Suffering is an intrinsic part of life also experienced as dissatisfaction, discontent, unhappiness, impermanence.
2. Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering, which is attachment and desire (tanha).
3. Nirodha: There is a way out of suffering, which is to eliminate attachment and desire.
4. Magga: The path that leads out of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path.

Having the stage set, this week we explore Why? Why is suffering universal? What causes it? Now that we know that the sickness exists, what is it’s cause?

The clinging to desire comes from our experience that short-term satisfaction comes from following desire. We ignore the fact that satisfying our desires doesn’t bring an end to them.

I think that those questions can be summed up as Attachment and Desire. We become unhappy when things in the illusory external universe, things which are impermanent, fail us. When we invest ourselves into a relationship, and the other person cheats, lies, or just up and leaves, we become unhappy. When we are attached to our physical possessions, and they are stolen or lost in a flood, we become hurt.

there is an origin of suffering and that the origin of suffering is attachment to the three kinds of desire: desire for sense pleasure (kama tanha), desire to become (bhava tanha) and desire to get rid of (vibhava tanha). This is the statement of the Second Noble Truth, the thesis, the pariyatti

This is the point where Buddhist philosophy and psychology leaves most people behind. They think that the 4th truth is about severing all ties to everything. Being a buddhist in the real world is not about being a cold or uncaring person. It is not about being unconnected from everything.

In emptiness, things are just what they are. When we are aware in this way, it doesn’t mean that we are indifferent to success or failure and that we don’t bother to do anything. We can apply ourselves. We know what we can do; we know what has to be done and we can do it in the right way. Then everything becomes Dhamma, the way it is. We do things because that is the right thing to be doing at this time and in this place rather than out of a sense of personal ambition or fear of failure.

The Four Noble Truths

When you exist in the now, and you have no delusions about the outside universe, you can make your choices from a much more informed point then if you are trying to unravel everything about you. For example, if you were talking to a person, and you were trying to figure out what they were thinking about you, about what you were saying you probably would act a certain way. Would that person be you?

We interact with a world that does not exist. We make large portions of it up in our minds, and then become confused when things do not work exactly like we want them to. We assign feelings to people that might or might not have them, and then act as if they did.

Buddhism is about penetrating that veil of illusion and seeing the world as it really it. In my mind, enlightenment means seeing clearly. Buddhism is more then just a religion, more then just a philosophy. It’s a psychology, a way of learning to live in harmony with the real world. It is very pragmatic. In Buddhism, you are instructed to think for your self – to investigate and learn. Nothing should be taken on faith.

7 thoughts on “Buddhism – Week 2 – Suffering and the path”

  1. […] As we spoke about last time, suffering and pain is a very real part of the world that we find ourselves in. By understanding that desire and wanting is the root of all suffering, we can start to elevate ourselves above it. We are still part of the world, however we see, and act differently when we understand that everything suffers, that everything is impermeant, and that desire fuels our suffering. […]

  2. <em>’In Buddhism, you are instructed to think for your self , to investigate and learn.”

    Is this why we did not get a homework assignment this week? :)</em>

    Score one for the Mystic!


  3. "In Buddhism, you are instructed to think for your self , to investigate and learn."

    Is this why we did not get a homework assignment this week? :)

    As far as honesty goes, I am also of the school where I don’t really care what people think of my opinions, views, etc…

    I do, however, try to practice some restraint when it comes to the feelings of others.

    Example, my wife often rolls her eyes at what I might choose to wear at times, and I basically tell her that I am not dressing to impress anyone. I literally don’t what you might think if you see what I choose to wear if I am doing yardwork and then have to run to Home Depot. I don’t go get all prettied up, I just go!

    The same attitude holds true when writing on my website.

    I don’t write to placate others, I write to express what I am thinking at any given time, right or wrong. I do not purposely try to offend, or attack others directly, although much of what I say can make weaker minded people uncomfortable at times I’m sure. I just enjoy good discussions on topics that at times can be emmotional.

    Being honest to the point of being cruel is not a good trait to have. There are times when what your mother told you holds true, and that is, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all."

    Being honest is good, being stupid is not. If you have issue with someone, you will be a better person for holding your tounge, rather then use honesty as a cruch for being mean.

  4. <em>Chimmy</em>: I think that I am going to get that book. It sounds interesting

    <em>ObiDave</em>: I am going to follow your lead – brutal honesty follows. There is a big difference between being honest and compassionate and what I have witnessed you do to my wife. I did not agree with your methodology, nor your tone.

    Being honest does not mean tearing down. Being honest to yourself when you are communicating with others means that you are presenting yourself, not some front to try and please them. Compassionate honesty means that you are honest, and loving in your approach. You are not aggressive nor attacking.

    With my wife – you were aggressive and attacking. I was so concerned about the tone, I almost deleted the email before she read it.

    <em>Justus</em>: You must interact with it – however by understanding that it is a construct of your own making, you can learn to deal with it better.

    Also – we cannot do it all at once. I am only looking at one side of it right now – the side that I can control. As I learn to deal with that which I can control, I can learn to deal with the other side of the coin.

  5. "For example, if you were talking to a person, and you were trying to figure out what they were thinking about you, about what you were saying you probably would act a certain way. Would that person be you?"

    There is obviously a balance that needs to be struck here. If you pay no attention to how a person is recieving your communication, they will probably not get it. There is an aphorism "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care" that I think is instructive here. Communication has a purpose, and focusing solely on the one side of it, what you are saying is a soliloqy.

    It is also my belief that we become, in part, that which we try to be. When you ask ‘would that person be you?’ the answer is probably yes, eventually. We become a kind person by trying to always be kind, even if we are naturally selfish bastards. I don’t think you can seperate the person from the mask they choose to wear, making the choice to wear a mask is part of the person.

    Interacting with a world that doesn’t exist is necessary, and I think good. A huge portion of our lives is indeed an internal construct. Without that construct though, their is no possiblity for imagination, hope, dreams or love.

  6. I know a LOT of people who follow the notion of obsessing about what the person they’re talking with might be thinking of them at that moment. It makes them VERY unhappy and it ruins communication. It blows people away when I say, "I don’t give a shit what that person thinks of me. I’m going to say what I think and not worry about their personal point-of-view of me. I have to live with myself, not them." This doesn’t give me license to be an asshole, but it sure does give me peace-of-mind. My friends are truly my friends, with no pretenses.

    Tsykoduk can attest to this. ;) Both his wife and mine have been on the opposite end of, "Okay, dear, here’s how it is in the real world…"

  7. Have you ever read <i>Hardcore Zen</i> by Brad Warner? It is not the most in depth of Zen texts…in fact it is more of a contemporary (everyday) approach to Zen…but I think it one of the better books on capturing the essence of Buddhism.

    Anyway, there’s something about your writing that totally reminds me of that book. Personally, I think that’s a good comparison, but you may disagree…

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