Mind Power Issue #72
An end to suffering? A “Noble Truth” explains how…
Issue #72 – Monday, July 31, 2017
The Buddhists say that all life is suffering. We want things we don’t have. We don’t want things we do have. And everything – good, bad and indifferent – eventually passes away.
The Four Noble truths of Buddhism suggest that suffering does not come from your circumstances; it comes from clinging to circumstances being a certain way.
Then there is the notion of “ending suffering” through the rigorous meditation, deprivation and self-restraint that will lead you…
...to the sort of detachment that ends suffering.
But who wants to suffer in order to end their suffering? It seems like a cruel trick.
Fortunately, Buddha found a softer, easier way, which came to be known as the Eightfold Path. I explain this ancient path in the feature story, below, and I also give you…
...a foolproof “Map” that will greatly assist you on this profound and powerful journey.
Because no one should have to suffer, even when outside circumstances seem to ”go badly.” You always, always have a choice.
Bill Harris, Founder/CEO
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The Four Noble Truths
End Suffering with Your Internal Map of Reality
by Bill Harris
It’s said that Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and became enlightened, then he went to the Deer Park near Benares and began to teach what he learned to the other ascetics he’d previously been hanging out with.
These ascetics were serious meditators who were part of a tradition of detaching from the world of the mind through a rigorous process of…
...depriving the body of food, shelter, sleep, or much of anything else, and also of depriving the mind of stimulation.
Buddha thought there was an easier way, and began to teach them what came to be known as The Four Noble Truths.
The First Noble Truth: All Life is Suffering
People suffer because they resist what is. The Buddha’s insight is that our lives are a struggle, and we do not find ultimate happiness or satisfaction…
...in anything we experience. In this "mundane” world we cling to and crave things that are impermanent, or that we can’t or don’t have. We expect happiness from outside circumstances...
...and, therefore, we cannot attain real happiness.
Life contains inevitable, unavoidable suffering. Some forms of suffering are obvious: A broken leg, the loss of a loved one, illness and trauma.
Other forms of suffering are more subtle, such as frustration, disappointment and rejection. Others are even more subtle: Longing, anxiety, restlessness and boredom.
In the end, all suffering comes from three rules that govern the world created by the mind:
Everything changes and eventually passes away
Sometimes you don’t get what you want
Sometimes you get what you don’t want
You can approach the First Noble Truth, and these three rules, in one of two ways. The first way is to resist them, to fight against them. Which leads me to the Second Noble Truth.
The Second Noble Truth:
Suffering is Caused by Clinging or Attachment
Wanting something you can’t have or not wanting something you do have produce the same result—both lead to suffering. You can take action…
...without clinging to the outcome or resisting how it ultimately turns out.
When you resist change, you can experience unpleasant emotions and physical symptoms. You get angry, become stressed, anxious and fearful. You might even behave in ways that have unpleasant consequences. Wanting things to be different from what they really are…
...is like beating your head against a wall.
For example, if you don’t get selected as the Employee of the Month and you resist that fact, you suffer. If you are fired and you resist, you suffer. And even if you do get Employee of the Month, if the next month someone else gets the title and you resist that, you’ll suffer.
Another more resourceful, approach is to find a way to stop fuming, fussing and suffering and accept that…
...“it is what it is” and you cannot change the past that created “what is”.
The Third Noble Truth, however, offers hope. It implies that suffering does not come from circumstances…
...it comes from your clinging to circumstances being a certain way.
The Third Noble Truth:
Suffering Can be Ended by Giving Up Attachment
The Third Noble Truth equates to this: Let Whatever Happens Be Okay. If you let whatever happens be okay, if you are not attached to the outcome…
...you will not suffer.
You can accept what is. You may prefer that things not change and pass away, you may wish that you would get what you want or not get what you don’t want.
You might take action to change things or to keep them the same, but if you don’t succeed…
...you can accept what is.
When you are “attached” to outcomes, your disposition, happiness and inner peace are dependent on the outcome being a certain way. When you let whatever happens be okay…
...you are independent of the outcome and can experience happiness and inner peace, regardless.
You remain solidly peaceful and happy whether you try to change things or not, allow yourself to accept, "Whatever happens, it’s okay, I will remain happy and peaceful."
The Fourth Noble Truth:
There is a Path to End Suffering
Buddhists call the path to end suffering the “Eightfold Path.” Although referred to as steps on an ancient road, the Eightfold Path is actually eight aspects of living that, when integrated into everyday life…
...ends the craving and clinging that leads to suffering.
The eightfold path is also referred to as the middle way, which leads us away from extremes and…
...encourages us to seek a simpler approach to life. Here are the elements of the Eightfold Path:
Right Mindfulness and
Many years ago, I discovered what I call the Internal Map of Reality. This “map” offers a powerful and practical starting point to the Eightfold Path. It explains how your brain filters information…
...and how you can learn to observe your thoughts, feelings and actions in a way that allows you to have choice over them.
Your Internal Map of Reality
The Internal Map of Reality reveals how external information enters the brain and passes through various unconscious filters you’ve created. You interpret this filtered information and behave as you choose…
...which leads to your results in life.
Most people are aware of the outside event and their behavior, but are unaware of everything in between. Since it’s invisible…
...it looks like the outside event causes the inner state and the behavior.
In reality, it’s how the brain processes the outside event that creates your inner state and the behavior you express. If you process it in a way that involves clinging or resistance, you suffer.
If, as a child, you were bitten by a dog, you could spend your whole life feeling fear when you see a dog. A different person, with different experiences might feel happy when they see a dog.
Suffering happens when you resist changing your belief.
Do dogs cause fear? Do dogs cause joy? Dogs are dogs. You choose the happiness or fear. The way you process circumstances creates the results. If you process them by clinging or resistance…
...you create suffering.
Here is the key point: No matter what the situation is, you can process things in a way that avoids suffering. People sometimes assume that certain situations induce suffering inherently and that there’s nothing you can do about it.
There is another way to look at this. If you have physical pain, for example, you can let it be okay. The sensation of pain will be there either way, but you suffer only if you resist it.
Let’s look at the three kinds of physical intensity:
Positive intensity, such as an orgasm
Negative intensity, as with physical pain
Neutral intensity, watching openly with curiosity
We tend to cling to things that have positive intensity—to cling to pleasure. We tend to resist negative intensity—to resist displeasure. Even with positive intensity, we might mourn that the pleasure is over...
...and suffer because we no longer have it.
Strive for neutral intensity. It may not be easy to do. However, in any situation, the degree to which you accept what is…
...is the degree to which you avoid suffering.
# # #
Editor’s Note: In part 2 of “The 4 Noble Truths,” Bill tackles emotional suffering and how decoding your Internal Map of Reality…
...can help you observe and release your attachments, bringing greater peace and joy into your life. Stayed tuned for Mind Power Issue #73, in your inbox Monday, August 7, 2017.
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