2600 years ago under a bodhi tree in India, a young man named Siddhartha Gautama sat in meditation through the night. He was taunted, terrorized and tempted by all manner of thoughts and sensations. He did not fight them, grasp at them or run from them, but acknowledged them warmly, allowing them to appear and dissolve without falling under their spell. In this way by morning he was liberated from suffering.
The first words he spoke after his transformation were about how everything is interconnected, that nothing is separate unto itself. And then he said that all beings are endowed with the nature of awakening.He spent the following 45 years teaching what he discovered so that all might experience such liberation. His followers called him the Buddha, the awakened one.
In his teachings he rejected both the austerity of the ascetics with whom he had practiced for six years previous and the over-indulgence of sensory pleasures that had been available to him in his earlier life as the son of a wealthy family. He chose instead to follow what he called the Middle Way, a balance, by simply be present with what is, without grasping or pushing away.
Being with what is as it arises, he came to know the impermanent nature of things. Thus he found a way to be with suffering, for suffering too is impermanent — but only by paying attention to it, and not trying every escape route to block it out.
So came the First Noble Truth: The existence of suffering in life. This first truth is a comfort to those who thought that they alone suffer.
The Second Noble Truth is that we can find the root of our suffering, identify its causes within ourselves and how through our habitual patterns of clinging and pushing away, we create and enforce suffering.
The Third Noble Truth is that we can be liberated from suffering by providing patient spacious attention to our experience, both pleasant and unpleasant.
The Fourth Noble Truth is that liberation from suffering can be found in the wisdom teachings of the Buddha’s Eight-fold Path, consisting of: wise view, wise thinking, wise speech, wise action, wise livelihood, wise diligence, wise mindfulness, and wise concentration.
The regular practice of sitting in meditation is fresh in every moment and offers a direct connection to the Buddha’s experience under that bodhi tree 2600 years ago.
All of the Buddha’s concepts are discussed at length in this blog. Check out the Archives and the Categories on the sidebar. Explore freely!