BUDDHISM (continued from previous page)
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
The FIRST NOBLE TRUTH: Life is dukkha. Usually translated as suffering
the word dukkha is a bit more complex. Huston Smith defines dukka with more clarity:
Life (in the condition it has got itself into) is dislocated.
Something has gone wrong. It is out of joint. As a pivot it is not true, friction (interpersonal conflict) is excessive, movement (creativity) is blocked, and it hurts.
The Buddha went on to pinpoint six moments when life’s dislocation is
apparent. Rich or poor we all experience:
1) The trauma of birth
2) The pathology of sickness.
3) The failing of health and loss of vitality caused by aging
4) The phobia of death.
5) To be tied to what one dislikes.
6) To be separated from what one loves.
THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH: The cause of lifes dislocation is tanha. Tanha is a specific kind of desire, the desire for private fulfillment. It is the failure to recognize that everything is merely an extension of the One Reality. It is our duty to see others as an extension of ourselves. We are all facets of the same reality.
THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH: If the cause of lifes dislocation is selfish craving, one must eliminate such craving. By eliminating the limits of self interest, we are relieved of our torment.
THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH: To overcome selfish craving and see the emptiness of self-interest, follow The Eightfold Path.
BEFORE THE PATH
Following the Eightfold Path is the Buddhas prescription for overcoming the need for self satisfaction. It requires active participation and commitment on behalf of the follower. According to the Buddha, there is no magic pill to enlightenment.
Before setting out on the Eightfold Path there is a preliminary step that must be taken. Because human beings must be supported in their endeavors, the Buddha recognized that who one associates with will have an effect on the success or failure of those who chose to walk the Path. Therefore, Right Association is a necessary first step toward the Path. In the book The Worlds Religions Huston Smith quotes an Indian Guru on this topic:
When shall we come to recognize that health is as contagious as disease, virtue as contagious as vice, cheerfulness as contagious as moroseness?
THE EIGHTFOLD PATH
1) RIGHT VIEWS: Do not allow your intellect to be overrun by your emotions or desires. In all spiritual pursuits reason must be maintained and satisfied.
2) RIGHT INTENT: Decide if enlightenment is what you truly want. Committed, disciplined, attention to the Path is required for spiritual growth. Make sure you are not easily distracted by spiritual trends and things of the world.
3) RIGHT SPEECH: Pay close attention to the things you say. Make note of every time you speak an untruth or say something unkind. Ask yourself why you resorted to lies or meanness. Face the ego that requires these defenses to hide behind. Avoid not just lies, gossip, and slander, but subtle forms of verbal abuse: belittling, tactlessness, insults disguised as advice, and insulting humor.
4) RIGHT CONDUCT:
Follow the Five Precepts:
– Do not kill.
– Do not steal.
– Do not lie.
– Do not be unchaste.
– Do not drink intoxicants.
5) RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: Choose an occupation that promotes and enhances life rather than destroying it. Recognize that how you make your living does not define who you are, but you should not choose an occupation that will impede your spiritual growth.
6) RIGHT EFFORT: Reaching the goal requires hard work. Those who follow the Way, said Buddha, might well follow the example of an ox that marches through the deep mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but his steady gaze, looking forward, will never relax until he comes out of the mire, and it is only then he takes a respite. O monks, remember that passion and sin are more than filthy mire, and that you can escape misery only by earnestly and steadily thinking of the Way.
7) RIGHT MINDFULNESS: Look inside and seek to understand your true nature. Recognize that your thoughts and feelings flow in and out of your awareness and are in no way who you are. Witness thoughts and emotions non reactively, neither condemning nor holding on, notice them,and let them pass.
8) RIGHT CONCENTRATION: Sit in meditation daily. Train your mind to overcome the distractions of the physical body.Practice deep breathing exercises. Put concentrated (8) effort (6) into mindfulness (7).
The main source for this brief look at Buddhism is The Worlds Religions by Huston Smith. For a more in depth examination of the Buddhist tradition and the Path of the Buddha I highly recommend reading The Worlds Religions.
I will conclude with Huston Smiths description of the Three Vows of Buddhism:
I take refuge in the Buddha,the fact that there was an explorer who made this trip and proved to us that it can succeed.
I take refuge in the dharma, the vehicle of transport, this boat to which we have committed our lives in the conviction that it is seaworthy.
I take refuge in the sangha, the order, the crew that is navigating this ship, in whom we have confidence. The shoreline of the world has been left behind. Until we set foot on the further bank, these are the only things which we can trust.
For more information:
Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library: Very Cool site, not just for Buddhism, they seem to have everything. Their Buddhism library is excellent: http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVL-Buddhism.html
www.BuddhaNet.net is another excellent resource for all things Buddhist.
http://www.allspiritual.com/Buddhism.php3 another source for information on Buddhism.
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