2022-04-25 Satipatthana (62) Four Noble Truths
9:25PM Apr 25, 2022
first noble truth
So far this week, the topic is the Buddha's Noble Truths, the four truths. And these are often seen as the pinnacle of the insights, the core insight of the dharma. And the way they're worded is that one understands when knows
as it is, it really is. One knows the arising of dukkha, as it really is, one knows the cessation of dukkha, as it really is, and one knows the practice leading to the cessation of dukkha. And these are the insight that these represent or not 1234 insights that are separate, like first, you know, one than the other than the other, the way that tradition offers them, the ancient tradition is that these all happen together in an instant, in an instant. They, they somehow are, theirs, maybe concedes a singular, understanding, singular insight, that, that then can be kind of explained or or parsed out in these four different ways. And sometimes it's said that this occurs like lightning, just boom, there, wow. Now I understand something. Some people find it very inspiring that this is one of the central teachings of the Buddha, that the emphasis is on suffering, some people find finally someone's talking about suffering and stopping and taking good look, and we're willing to address it directly, rather than covering it over or ignoring it or something. But it's not just a teaching, it is an insight, it's meant to be something to experience deeply for oneself. And, and that might be not see seem so interesting, when you to experience to God, intimately and fully. So though we could know it's arising and ceasing and the way to it's ending. The and what we're seeing here is, while these four noble truths, down through the centuries have been explained many ways, it seems like there are a wonderful template for all kinds of teachings, and, and all kinds of ways of perceiving or understanding our, our human life. And that's part of the part of the richness of them, is their adaptability. And, and, and, and so we find if you could probably just find modern books in English on the Four Noble Truths. People who talk about them, and start comparing how they say it, how with how they explain it. And you see very quickly that people have little different different nuances and different ways of teaching it Theravāda And Buddha's will teach it differently than Zen Buddha's, and Buddha's differently in Tibetan Buddhists, more traditional Theravāda and Buddha's from Thailand might teach it differently than then teachers in the West, and you see this there, it's, it's changeable, malleable, and I kind of trust that everyone is speaking from some idea or some experience of what is most helpful for them. And then they presented that way. The, the, in this ancient Buddhist tradition, or say, this way, there are two primary interpretations of understanding of the four noble truths that I think are the most useful. One is that it talks about the cause of suffering, their suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering.
And the way he The other is that it's, it's knowing, the ask to do with the changing impermanent in constant nature of dukkha suffering. And so we see it arise, we see it cease, and we see it cease and as a definitive way in such an important way, that something shifts and change. There's a deep kind of change in the psyche, in seeing the whole world of dukkha. So Somehow crumbled down somehow dissolve, drop away temporarily. And then we know something that is very powerful. Some people in the ancient world felt that the Buddhist path only begins when there has been this deep insight into deep enough insight into the Four Noble Truths, that no one no one really knows what the path is about. Because one has the personal experience of where it's going, I'll be at a temporary experience, but without one knows. And so now now we can oh, now I'm on the course. Now I know the practice leads someplace, it leads to this, this cessation of, of dukkha of suffering. So both of these, seeing the cause, seeing the inconstant nature of it are quite powerful for people. And so I'll talk a little bit about both of them this week. And, but today, I want to say a look more or say something about the first noble truth. And the first one is understanding as it really is dukkha. And what is dukkha it's often we say suffering in English, some people find that troublesome because they only use the word suffering for a huge traumas, huge catastrophize thing. Difficulties. In the Buddhist term, the the literal meaning of dukkha is pain. And, and sometimes it's a lot easier to understand what Buddhists are talking about it if we understand the pain or painful. So for example, the classic description of what dukkha is, in the first noble truth is that birth is painful. It's an adjective that we're dukkha. So birth is painful. Sickness is painful, aging is painful, death is painful. associating with what is unloved, unlovable, associated with what is not liked, is painful, associating with what we love. Not being able to soak up love is painful, not getting what we want is painful. In short, clinging, clinging to the aggregates that we've talked about some weeks ago, is painful. So here's a statement about all these things are painful. It's not saying that it's always painful. But it there's so so commonly painful that I think most people if you say birth is painful. Most mothers will say, yeah, it was painful. But that's not all it was. Some people die, and it's unnecessarily painful to die. But, but to say it's painful, seems like oh, yeah, that's often the case. Or there's something painful about it. Aging doesn't have to be painful. But I think most people who get start getting older will discover that there's pain involved with getting older. And this very human thing of being with what it is. We don't like being with something that is unpleasant, is painful. And being with what we love and what we are close to. Not being able to be close to it not being with our loved ones can be painful. And, and so it just naming a series of things, that in this human condition, I think what they're trying to do is to lay out the full range of where people experience pain, emotional pain. Oh, there's one more I didn't list anguish, lamentation, pain, depression, despair, is painful. All these things are painful. So if that's all we do is to name it, then it's depressing. Then we can have anguish lamentation, pain, depression and distress, the spare. But this is an honest,
look at that appreciation and recognition that this is part of the human condition. And is there's something about this, that is not that is optional. It's not necessary to be caught in this in some aspect of this pain. And there's some way of freedom stepping outside of the outside of the game of what is paid and painful. There is an alternative and that alternative involves seeing the changing nature Are the inconstancy of this pain. And now inconstancy that means it comes and goes, maybe it is not good news, it means it's going to come back. But what it does, it allows us some point for the mind, to find a place of letting go someplace where it's not part of the game, that part of the cycles of pain, and that keeps appearing and appearing, it finds a place of rest, or freedom or openness, or expensiveness, or some other game in town. That changes the whole perspective. Because of what this four noble truths is leading to, is a life that is free of this certain kind of pain, certain kinds of dukkha, or suffering, that comes from how we relate to or live in this world of suffering. And in a certain kind of way, we stopped living in it, the mind, the awareness, has found a place of refuge, a face of place of safety, that is not separate from it all, but not identified with it. And, and, but rather, if identified with anything, it's identified with freedom, it's identified with peace, with happiness. And so we start by a willingness to the to look clearly, at dukkha. And the text says, When sees as it really is dukkha. And whenever the text says, as it really is, what it means is we're seeing the inconstancy the changing nature of it, that's the key thing. That's what makes it a noble truth. Not that we see suffering and suffer more, but we see suffering, and somehow we're able to have the stillness, the focus, the clarity of mind, to see it as part of the in constant flow, of changing river of our experience. So if this makes sense to you, you might try today, as you go through your day, to observe the ways in which you're dukkha comes and goes, appears and disappears. That rises and falls, surges and recedes. That chances are your dukkha is not constant. If it is constant, then chances are you're holding onto something. And what are you holding on to? I'm not saying that the length of suffering is easy. But can you begin looking at it through a different lens, a different perspective than your usual one? And can you step outside of the yourself almost to be able to look at dukkha as something that's flowing, changing and constant part of the stream of perceptions that are constantly shifting and changing, that sometimes comes back to dukkha. But then Flitz away and, and the to begin kind of breaking up the solidity of everything, and into the flow the stream of experience. And so if that's if looking at dukkha, today is too much for you, of course, you can stop, don't don't do it too much. But if to understand what we're going to do the next for the rest of the week, and this very important topic. You might see if you can gaze upon your dukkha in a new way and see what happens. So thank you, and very much and I look forward to meeting here again tomorrow.