This talk continues a review of the Four Noble Truths, with a focus on how the mind is liberated from dukkha through dissolving the potency of craving and clinging, the topic of the Second Noble Truth. Various views relevant to the Third Noble Truth are described, such as sunnata, translated as emptiness, and anatta, the absence of an enduring/autonomous self, which is another way to understand sunnata. Different approaches to the experience of Nibbana, the Unconditioned, are reviewed, either through cultivating highly developed levels of concentration called jhanas, or through what is called “dry vipassana”, insight into the nature of craving and clinging and either liberating the mind momentarily, through letting go, or ultimately, through realizing Nibbana. The traditional Theravada understanding that four levels of experiencing Nibbana are required for total liberation is also reviewed.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Reviewing the Third Noble Truth
Next week’s talk will begin a step-by-step review of the Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Eightfold Path.
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During this second of two talks on the Third Noble Truth, Peter reviewed last week’s dialogue, which was focused on understanding how emotionally potent memories (karma) bias the data input through the sense doors, the result being that we “imagine” our way through life. Mindful investigation allows these emergent processes to be noted sooner, and Right Effort allows the unintegrated self states to become more coordinated and less conflicted in function. This process sets the stable platform of samadhi, and allows the integrated personality structure to be investigated, producing a process of spiritual awakening. Peter then read a long excerpt from Rodney Smith’s book: “Stepping Out Of Self-Deception-The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of Non-Self”, to illuminate how important letting go of egocentric thoughts are for the awakening process. For Those who might be interested in looking up the excerpts, they cover several pages in the chapter entitled: “Action From Emptiness”.
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This talk advances a developing theme for this year: How to cultivate a dhamma practice that is relevant to the core of the Buddha’s teachings that is adaptive to our 21st century culture. As Buddhism has evolved through the ages, each time it enters a culture, the terms and concepts have been affected by the culture it enters. For example, the changes induced as Buddhist teachings entered China, influenced by Confucianism and Taoism, becoming Chan, then being further modified into Zen in the Korean and Japanese cultures. We have an obligation to the liberating values of Buddhist principles and practices in mastering what has been given to us, then adapting it to our times, without losing the precious core of the teachings.
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In this talk, the neurological underpinnings of the Second Noble Truth, tanha (craving) and upadana (clinging) were explored to emphasize the importance of being clearly and immediately aware of the felt sense of urgency and the “enchantment” of internal narrative experience. This clarity is crucial for setting the conditions for the realization of the Third Noble Truth, through the action of the Noble Eightfold Path. In this as well as future discussions, the relevance to current cultural and economic crises is established, with an encouragement to find a “Middle Way” between consumerism and ideological purity and material denial and skeptical withdrawal from society. How can we as a spiritual community support each other in finding this Middle Way?