Today’s my birthday, so I’m giving myself the gift of (laziness) a free blog post by re-posting one of my comments on the Yahoo allspirit group here. Something I’ve been meaning to address, and deserves a better treatment, but this one’s already written:
“On 8/15/2011 12:47 PM, zen_rascal_0 wrote:
> >……….. Did not Gautama the Buddha teach of the method to eliminate suffering?……….namaste, thomas
Yes, so we are told. The question is how well do people understand that teaching?
The 4 Noble Truths (actually ennobling – an important difference) are a description of Buddha’s experience/realization – of Buddha Nature. It is not the prescription for action most read into it.
Gautama was aware that you can’t hand awakening/release from suffering to anyone. They must realize and release themselves. It’s there for “those with eyes to see” as another teacher would later say, and appears as something else entirely to the rest.
The desire to end suffering can never end suffering. There is an end, but no method can work. Such effort is attachment and forms the trap, and Buddha was pointing out this trap. Properly seen, it falls away effortlessly, having never been a trap at all.
From Wikipedia (my comments in brackets) :
1. Suffering does exist
2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
(Becomes obvious when looked at, and desire is understood in the broadest sense of wanting anything to be other than it is [not just materialistic/sensual sorts of desires].)
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path
(OK – Here’s the part people gloss over and just jump onto the path without serious reflection. Doing things – doing anything at all – is not cessation – so “practice” as used here cannot refer to doing anything any certain way. It must be referring to a “practice” (daily experience) of realizing the truth in all those aspects of life as they are, as they arise, with no attachment to them, and no desire for them to be other than they are in that moment. In essence, they are already “right”. We do not need to make them so – we need only see it is already so and cannot be otherwise).
People spend lifetimes on the Eightfold Path, never questioning “Right”, assuming it is referring to a counter force to “wrong”, thereby perpetuating the cycle of delusion and suffering in their practice itself. “Right” on this path is not right/wrong at all (those are attachments – struggle – more suffering). Not judgmental (attachment) nonsense (suffering), but realization of how things rightly naturally are. The “Eight” are not doings, but aspects (folds) of being that are realized to be so – aka “Suchness”.
A more literal interpretation (the common interpretation), that the Eightfold Path comprises things to do/cultivate via practices (vs realize directly), clearly has some positive personal and social benefits (which aligns with what people really want – as awakening offers nothing they don’t already have). Gautama knew very few would awaken, so the teachings were structured in a way to keep the rest busy and working for betterment of their lives/societies. A built-in self-help/social program. This is fine, and is at the core of Buddhism’s practices and its practitioners’ service/example to humanity, but is not the core of Buddha’s teaching – which is FAR too simple and profound to be widely realized.
Practicing cessation, is not cessation.