Four Noble Truths

This dhamma dialogue continues on the theme introduced last week on the  contemporary meaning of the teachings of the Buddha found in the discourse on the Four Noble Truths.  In particular, the topic reviews the classical characteristics of Samma Vaca, Right Speech, then explores the modern view that the sense of self is largely realized through internal narrative, before emerging into the spoken word.  Peter emphasized that the impulse that generates the internal narrative is a feeling, which is the urgent impulse to either become enmeshed in a pleasant feeling, or to avoid an unpleasant feeling.  Therefore the focus of mindful investigation is most skilfully applied at the level of feeling in the body, to prevent being “enchanted” by the emerging narrative, through craving and clinging.  This focus is in agreement with the Buddha’s teachings on how to modify karma through wise attention to feeling, found in the doctrine of dependent origination.  In next week’s dhamma dialogue, the focus will be on contemporary approaches to Samma Kammanta, Right Action.

During this talk, Peter introduces a long-term project, to revisit the Four Noble Truths concept from the perspective of the 21st century.  Much of the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (the first teaching of the Buddha after enlightenment) contains cultural add-ons that were accumulated as Buddhism competed with Brahmanism over the centuries before it was written down.  Our current intention is to seek out the core concepts that are truly universal in application, supporting them with recent research that validates those concepts.

In this talk, Peter describes the progressive steps toward awakening that are accomplished through perfecting the Seven Factors of Awakening.  The culmination of this perfection transforms the meditative mind from understanding the nature of the Four Noble Truths–from concept to realization.  The nature of suffering is completely known, the experience of craving is seen clearly, the release from suffering becomes more and more complete, and Wisdom becomes completely known.  This brings release, first from a psychological entrapment through to the final release, freedom from the illusion of a separate, enduring self–the experience of Nibbana.

By Tommy Harrison

According to the Buddha, the backdrop to all our experiences can be tied back to the Four Noble Truths. We suffer, there are reasons, there are ways to end it, and there’s a path that guides us on this journey. This is our shared human experience. How could this backdrop help one relate to the suffering experienced during the holidays? Read more…