- The Truth of suffering (Dukkha)
- The Truth of the cause of suffering (Samudaya)
- The Truth of the end of suffering (Nirodha)
- The Truth of the Path which will lead to the end of suffering (Magga)
- There is suffering in life as nothing is permanent:
We can observe this in a few ways. Obviously, we can see the physical and mental suffering associated with changing circumstances like birth, growing old, illness and dying. The second observation of suffering is the anxiety or stress of trying to hold on to things that are constantly changing. And the last is the discontentment that pervades all of us, due to the fact that there is no permanent YOU or YOUR identity that is consistent. Who are you really? Where are you? Is there a solid centre of you? What is enduring within the self that is YOU?
What this is pointing us to is the truth of impermanence. Everything has a beginning, middle and an end. This is the reality that there’s discontentment and an unease within, as things never measure up to our expectations, standards or hopes as things never fulfil or create an enduring satisfaction of the climatic plateau where we arrive and nothing ever bad happens ever again. It is just pointing out that even happy moments are ultimately unfulfilling, because everything changes. The good, the bad and the indifferent, nothing lasts.
This statement that life is suffering, isn’t as pessimistic as is it sounds, but realistic. Ordinary life usually will have the shared experience of misery and well as happiness. The Buddhist slogan life will have equal 10,000 arrows of sorrow and 10,000 arrows of joy. Awareness of impermanence (anicca), like suffering (dukkha), is the inescapable fact of existence. To be born is to change, age, become ill and die.
The solution to this first truth, is to admit and be aware that life will have suffering. Embrace it. Nothing is permanent. Acceptance is KEY!
2. There is a cause to the arising of suffering:
We look to the origins or causes of the suffering whether it is by our own hands, others or the natural world. Things change and we find it painful, ongoing pain leads to suffering. The Kleshas in the Yogic perspective keep us tethered in our suffering. We are ignorant of the root of why we suffer that gives rise to our egotism. Our ego invests in our suffering by misidentifying with a limited-self, thinking that you are a finite or unchanging self, defined by what you think, feel and do. Then reinforcing the habit of craving or attachment to outcomes of pleasure thinking it will fix, fill or solve the suffering we feel. Or the aversion, avoiding, resisting or rejecting what we don’t want, inevitably leads to disappointment, more pain and suffering. The last is Fear of what we don’t want to experience, loss, change and death. All creates a discontentment for things to be other than they are. If this could be like this, then I will be okay…
The solution to this second truth is to learn how to Let Go of the Causes of the Suffering. We have to first be aware of the cause, give ourselves the permission to feel it and get to the root of it, then the practice of letting go of our labels, attachments, avoidances, and fears.
3. The end or stilling of suffering
We make a plan to stop the suffering. Cease self-sabotaging actions, delay gratification and stop the impulsivity, craving, yearning, grasping. Then choose differently, face what you are resisting or avoiding that is painful. Know what the experience of stopping feels like. This is what we do in our Yoga and Meditation Practice. How we have a relationship with our hamstring pain. The good news is that the causes of suffering are temporary. They are like passing clouds that obscure the sun of our enlightened nature, which is always present.
Reflecting on our practice last week of Siddhartha under the Bodhi Tree. When the roots of practice are deep, nurtured with loving awareness, there is no reason to fear the wind from the storm.
Therefore, suffering can end because what distorts our vision of the truth can be cleared. An awakened mind is always available to us. We have everything Buddha had to awaken to the truth. So we make a plan of how to practice waking up and devote time to it.
4. Follow the path that will lead you out of suffering.
Path to Freedom is your path. They call this the middle path. Take what we like and leave the rest. Sometimes that rest will be revisited later. We continue to refine the simplicity of practices like Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Personal Ethics (8 fold path, Yamas & Niyamas), Mantra, Prayer & Be of Service to Others.
This is a call to take ACTION, we do something. By living ethically, practicing Yoga and meditation and developing the knowledge of these truths and listen to our innate wisdom, we can take exactly the same journey to self-realisation or enlightenment and free ourselves from suffering that the Buddhas do. We too can wake up.
Our freedom from suffering is a daily remission contingent upon our devotion to cultivate Awareness, Radical Acceptance and Wise Action!