The Second Noble Truth, Part 1, Craving and Clinging

This talk focuses on the factors that produce dukkha–craving and clinging.  Peter describes the traditional Buddhist terms for craving and clinging, along with how contemporary neurological research supports the validity of this understanding of the human condition.  After his descriptions, participants in the group asked questions and shared observations about the topic.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Second Noble Truth

Next week’s talk will continue to review the Second Noble Truth, emphasizing the core Buddhist concept of paticca samuppada, translated as dependent origination, as a way to understand how the self is formed and how to change karmic influences in ways that support the realization of the Third Noble Truth, liberation from dukkha.


Reviewing The Three Characteristics Of Dukkha

This talk is the first of three talks regarding the fundamental nature of personal experience: anicca, dukkha and anatta.  The focus her is on three sub-categories of dukkha: Dukkha Dukkha (The distress associated with inhabiting a body), Sankhara Dukkha (The distress and confusion that comes from how the mind interprets experience) and Viparinama Dukkha (The distress and confusion that occurs as the result of circumstances changing beyond one’s control).  The review also addresses the causes of dukkha–craving and clinging–as well as ways to use mindfulness of breathing to decrease reactivity to the craving associated with dukkha and detachment regarding the internal “selfing story” of clinging,  There is an accompanying “Guided Dukkha Contemplation” posted the same day in the archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Buddhist Three Characteristics Part 1

The next topic for review will be the characteristics of anicca, the transient nature of subjective experience.


Working With Clinging February 12 2020

This talk concludes two focused on the elements of Dukkha, craving and clinging; the talk on tanha, craving,was posted on February 6.  Peter described the term Upadana as basically meaning fuel or nutriment, that which feeds the selfing process.  Upadana is the “maturing” of craving when the mind is insufficiently alert and balanced.  Contemporary research into how the brain transforms stimulation into a sense of self through what is termed the binding process.  Peter described how mindfulness of breathing meditation can provide the stability of attention and the level of insight into the process of becoming as described in the concept of dependent origination.  These explanations were followed by general group discussion regarding the applications of mindfulness to reveal and overcome the various manifestations of clinging.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  WORKING WITH CLINGING

Next week’s talk will focus on working with karma.


Dukkha As A Confused Mind August 7 2019

This talk is focused on the second of the two causes of dukkha which is clinging, upadana in Pali; last week’s posting of July 31 was focused on the other cause of  dukkha, craving, tanha in Pali.  Peter described ego as a dynamic process of the brain during which sorting through and prioritizing various sensory stimuli in the creation creates a “self”, emphasizing that this process is affected by “confirmation bias”, a psychological process which overrides new considerations, emphasizing already organized memories in self-state identifications.  This is clinging, and it inevitably creates a more or less confusing conflict between what the mind creates from memory and what actually happens.  He used the example of a personality organized around prior conditioning towards perfectionism that is adversely affected when a failure occurs, generalizing a mistake into “I am a stupid failure!”.

A Buddhist concept called sunnata (soon-yah-tah) was described, traditionally translated as emptiness, which misrepresents the term as similar to the space between stars.  It is better understood as, for example,  the absence of any determining description regarding sound before being interpreted by the mind’s confirmation bias.  Referring to a concept that Daniel Siegel terms the “plane of possibility”, the progression of self-forming process was related to as being clearly investigated and understood through the cultivation of mindfulness of breathing, which allows insight into more creative and flexibly adaptive self-state organizing processes to alleviate the conflicted personality confusion of dukkha.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Dukkha As Mental Confusion

Next week’s talk will focus on clinical anxiety as a pschological example of dukkha, suggesting ways that mindfulness practices can bring relief to this mental disorder.  Peter, who has a 35 year background in psychotherapy, will focus on how mindfulness has been clinically effective in resolving this condition, which is reaching epidemic proportions in current American culture.


The Nature Of Clinging

During this talk, Peter continues the discussion begun in the last meeting on the Second Noble Truth.  Again it was emphasized that there are three levels of approach to the Four Noble Truths: to be understood conceptually, to be noted upon emerging into awareness, and for the first two to be mastered.  This talk explored the concepts associated with clinging, particularly from a neuropsychological perspective.  The value of this approach is to demonstrate the impersonality of the various neural networks involved as initial sensory input is processed through association to prior experience.  This is another way to look at the Buddhist concept of karma and the resultant effects, known as vipaka.During the next talk Peter will present in a few weeks, we will discuss the Third Noble Truth as a progression from personality integration (the mastery of virtue) to spiritual attainment (the mastery of wisdom).

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