Sometimes the only way for me to understand something is to try to put it into my own words. Particularly, if I want to memorize or “imprint” something so that I can keep it near and dear to me like an inspirational poem or saying I still remember from my earliest days.
And so, thanks to the kindness of WordPress, I will use my meager intellect to place into words something my heart has tried to understand and permit to grow from one lifetime to another. It is the four truths that can enable those noble among us to overcome what is wrong in our lives and how we could set things right.
The first is the basic truth that there is much of life that is plainly unsatisfactory.
I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I sometimes feel an uncomfortablness, an irritation that goes away temporarily, but returns too soon, too often. Some people call it “suffering.” They say “There is suffering.”
Wise men and women thousands of years ago called the suffering “dukkha,” a Sanskrit word which roughly means “unsatisfactory,” or better yet, “incapable of satisfying.” I liken its meaning to the old Rolling Stones song of the 1960s, with the words by Mick Jagger screaming his truth to world “I . . . can’t . . . get . . . no . . . satisfaction.”
Suffering and dukkha can be understood.
Once I achieve this, I can say I understand suffering and dukkha.
The second truth is that there is a cause for this dukkha, and that is attachment to desires.
Desires in and of themselves are all right. It’s my clinging to them at all costs that causes the harm, the dissatisfaction or suffering. Desires can be let go off. When this happens, I can say I have let go of desires.
The third noble truth is that there can be a “cessation” of suffering or feeling unsatisfied.
This cessation can be realized. Once, I have experienced this cessation, I can say that I have fully realized it.
That leads me to the last truth, and that is that suffering and its cause can end if I follow a certain path.
That path is called the “middle way” between the extremes of pain and pleasure. I can aspire to follow 8 guidelines, called by some sages as the “Eight-Fold Path.” The first two “practices” call for wisdom, while the next three deal with a form of morality, and the third group, concentration.
I can develop wisdom through understanding, the right understanding of the way things are, and not the way my unenlightened mind usually sees them. It helps me to always have the right attitude, or right intention toward things, events and what scientists call phenomenon.
As far as morality goes, I should simply have “right speech,” “right action” and “right livelihood.” Don’t curse too much, don’t slander anyone, don’t lie or gossip. Act upon the maxim that whatever you do in life, you are approving everyone else to do, according to Emmanuel Kant, one of my favorite philosophers I recall from my college days. It’s the same action that Jesus said: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” And right livelihood means that I should be careful in choosing a career that doesn’t involve gun-running, moonshining or trading nuclear secrets to terrorists. Don’t work in a field that could endanger or kill some being, man or beast.
The next three deal with the focus and reflection of life, and how we can enable the noble truths to act within us and to us.
Use “Joyful Effort” in all endeavors.
All will help uncover insight from within. You can use whatever words you like or feel comfortable with.
Use mine, if they help. I got them from others whose purpose in life was, and still is, to help bring a certain enlightenment to everybody while we are here, just being the loving kindness and compassion we want for everybody.