It’s Your Soul That’s Hungry (Part 1 of 4)
It’s your soul that’s hungry, not your body. Many of us are curious as to what Buddhism is all about. In my view, Buddhism is not a religion but rather a way of life. In this four-part blog series, we’ll explore the foundation of Buddhist teaching, the Four Noble Truths. Over 2,500 years ago, in his first teaching, Buddha taught about suffering and the end of suffering in what is called the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are considered to be the very central teachings of Buddhism. The basic tenets of Buddhist practice are to understand suffering and to practice ways in which we can become free from suffering. In essence, the best way to practice the Four Noble Truths is to first become interested in our suffering. Once we have a sense of its root causes, it is only then that we can free ourselves from it. It’s from here that we can meet the world with love and compassion. And it is only from this place that we can be happy. At the time of the Buddha, doctors would recognize a problem, define its causes, formulate a prognosis for the cure and then prescribe what was needed next. The Buddha adopted this format when he stated the Four Noble Truths which is why he is considered in some teachings as “the first physician.” The Buddha avoided dogma. Instead, he offered practices and insights that we can verify for ourselves and in our own lives as opposed to the doctrine that we should believe in or subscribe to. Here are the Four Noble Truths
- Suffering occurs
- The causes of suffering are craving, aversion, and ignorance
- There is a possibility to end suffering
- The end of suffering can be achieved through the Noble Eightfold Path.
#1 – The Truth of SufferingThe First Noble Truth simply says that suffering occurs. Not a profoundly poignant statement to be sure. Suffering comes with the territory of being human. It’s part of the human condition. Not only our own “suffering,” but if we are open to the world, when someone else is suffering, we feel the discomfort of someone else’s suffering as well because we can empathize. There is a distinction between inevitable suffering and optional suffering that comes into play from a Buddhist perspective. The ancient Buddhist texts suggest that no one comes to the Buddhist path except through suffering. And from the Buddhist perspective, the recognition of suffering is actually considered sacred and worthy of respect. But not all suffering is monumental and we can learn from our more subtle suffering like how we react in a disagreement, a traffic jam, or an irritation over something someone has done or said. Optional suffering is created when we react to an experience. Things happen in life and we add our little (or maybe even big!) stories to them. See if you can catch yourself creating a story around something that happens this week in your life. Maybe it’s as simple as the mailman arriving late, the neighbor’s dog leaving a gift on your lawn, one of your kids acting a bit snarky, or someone at work rubbing you the wrong way. Just see if you can notice. The main forms of suffering identified by the Buddha are in the forms of our grasping, clinging/attachment, and craving.