MIDWEEK MESSAGE – May 15, 2024

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a group when someone commented that Buddhism was very pessimistic because it believed life was suffering. That is true, but it is not the entire truth. Personally, I love Buddhism because it can help me make sense of life’s difficulties and how to deal with them.

The Four Noble Truths are the basis for Buddhism, and Buddha did say (the first truth) that there was suffering in this world. When he left the confines of the palace he grew up in, he saw old age, sickness, and death. Those things are facts in life, but he discovered that most of our sufferings come from desires, fears, and more subtle things during his enlightenment.

However, Buddha’s teachings didn’t stop at acknowledging suffering. They extended to a comprehensive treatment plan akin to a medical prescription. 

If he were a doctor, the first Truth would be the diagnosis, and the second Truth would be the identification of the cause of the disease. The cause of suffering, he said,  was desire or attachment, but not desire as we think of it in terms of lust or greed, although those do apply. It can also be anything we desire because we think it will fix us and make life better somehow.  In other words, as Michael Singer says, all suffering comes from thinking that we are not ok and that something “out there” will make us feel ok. 

The third Truth would be the remedy, which is a path to a new way of seeing life and how we live it.  It is nonattachment and taking the remedy (the fourth Truth,  the prescription). The prescription is the Eightfold Path.  In this way, Buddha’s teachings offer a practical approach to understanding and alleviating suffering.

Quote of the Week

“Do not lose yourself in the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. Do not get caught in your anger, worries, or fears. Come back to the present moment and touch life deeply”. 

Thich Nhat Hanh

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