Tag: The Noble Eightfold Path

The End of Suffering #2 – Right Thought

In my previous post The End of Suffering #1, I tried to show how Right Understanding could help alleviate suffering. In this post, I would like to illustrate how Right Thought the second element of the Noble Eightfold Path also contributes to the end of suffering. Remember the Buddha taught that those that master the elements of the Nobel Eightfold Path will end suffering and even attain enlightenment.

So just what is Right Thought (Samma sankappa)? The following is a pretty decent definition:

Right thought denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love and thoughts of non-violence, which are extended to all beings. It is very interesting and important to note here that thoughts of selfless detachment, love and non-violence are grouped on the side of wisdom. This clearly shows that true wisdom is endowed with these noble qualities, and that all thoughts of selfish desire, ill-will, hatred, and violence are the result of a lack of wisdom in all spheres of life whether individual, social, or political.

Right Thought provides the wisdom we need to stay detached and extend love to those we encounter. As we mentioned in The End of Suffering #1 our suffering is manifested in our attachment to things. With the “right thoughts”, we are able to break the chains of attachment by being more detached from things and people. Right Thought provides us to view the world in a more selfless way, leading with love and compassion towards humanity.

As you cultivate “right thought” you begin to look at your thinking more critically, which helps you understand when you are deviating from the path of detachment, selflessness, and love. When you begin to catch yourself becoming angry or selfish you are on the path to mastering “right thought”.

One of the interesting aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path is that none of the eight aspects of the path operate independently. Without “right understanding” it would be impossible to attain “right thought”. So once you understand the cause of suffering with “right understanding” you can begin to do something about it by controlling your thoughts. More importantly, you begin to think with the right intentions as we mentioned selfless, detached, and loving.

I would suggest that you will not reach a state of right intention or right thought, where one day you are an angry selfish person and then the next day you magically practice 100% right thoughts becoming selfless and loving overnight. This like all the other aspects of the path must be cultivated one day at a time.

I wish you all the luck as you follow the path and may all be well with you.

Namaste

Reference: https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/

 

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

Follow me on Instagram for daily wisdom https://www.instagram.com/joersacco/


This post was proofread by Grammarly.

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

Mind, Body, Spirit books at eBooks.com

If eBooks aren’t your thing, check out my Resources page for additional ways to support this blog.

Visit my other blog Inspirational Book Reviews where I review some incredible literature.

 

The End of Suffering #1 – Right Understanding

In my last post Root of suffering according to the Buddha, it was declared by the Blessed One that desire was the root of suffering. However, there is one exception and that is when desire is used to understand the dhamma. In one of the discourses from the Pali Canon, where the Buddha speaks about the steps towards the realization of truth he states:

“Desire is most helpful for application of the will, Bharadvaja. If one does not arouse desire, one will not apply one’s will; but because one arouses desire, one applies one’s will. That is why desire is most helpful for application of the will.”

(from MN 95; Canki sutta, II 168-77)

One might infer that desire is a double-edged sword; maybe one edge is the desire that causes suffering and the other edge a desire that can be applied for good. Is this possible? You may have a desire to help others, be of service, learn the dhamma, or a desire to end suffering for sentient beings. I actually prefer the word craving, as to extinguish all desires especially those that are focused on positive outcomes would seem nearly impossible. Craving while a synonym for desire seems to have a more sinister connotation at least in my mind. Think about it in these terms:

  • A heroin addict craves a fix
  • An alcoholic craves a drink
  • I am craving ice cream

Craving seems a bit stronger when associated with some form of addiction. Maybe we can just accept that all desires will not result in suffering, but there is always the danger that what we thought of as a healthy desire may someday result in suffering. I just wanted to clarify that the Buddha did have different interpretations of the word desire. Sometimes it is just better to consider that the suffering we experience has its roots in desire and craving, but is often caused or manifested in attachment.

As we know from the Buddha’s teaching the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path. In this series of blog posts, I would like to explore each of the factors of the Eightfold Path as they apply to ending suffering and how they address attachment. In this blog post, we will start with Right Understanding sometimes referred to as Right View.

I’m going to use a definition from the Tricyle.org website (reference at the end of this post), which I feel is a good description of what Right Understanding (Samma ditthi) is:

“Right understanding is the understanding of things as they are, and it is the four noble truths that explain things as they really are. Right understanding therefore is ultimately reduced to the understanding of the four noble truths. This understanding is the highest wisdom which sees the Ultimate Reality. According to Buddhism there are two sorts of understanding. What we generally call “understanding” is knowledge, an accumulated memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. This is called “knowing accordingly” (anubodha). It is not very deep. Real deep understanding or “penetration” (pativedha) is seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and label. This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation.”

Right understanding helps us see the cause of suffering allowing us to understand how our craving and clinging are actually harming us. Without “right understanding” we would be just tossed about in life, blindly reacting to everything, and being completely oblivious to what is causing our suffering. If you are doing this yourself then “right understanding” is the prescription, but I suspect you are not or you probably would not be reading this blog post.

Once you start to really understand what is causing your suffering you can begin to either avoid the attachment or at least lessen the impact of it. As sad as the loss of a loved one that might include a child, spouse, or parent can be “right understanding” will at least arm you with an understanding of impermanence, which might lessen the attachment you feel. This is always difficult to comprehend as you might think the dhamma is turning you into some cold nonfeeling person who is completely free of attachment. This will not happen to you and when you are faced with the mortality of your loved ones, you will be compassionate and loving to those that are suffering from the loss.

True “right understanding” helps you to see things as they really are, which will take some of the tragedy out of life. I will give you a brief example of where a lack of right understanding led to a lifelong scaring of a person. My father in law worked for a well-known drug company starting with them very early in life. He was very loyal to the company, but when he was about 50 years old the company terminated him and a number of other employees. Fortunately for him, he received a generous pension something that is almost unheard of today. Instead of seeing this as just another bump in the road or something that happens when you work for a corporation he took it as a personal attack. He is in this ’80s now, and he has never forgiven the company, and in fact, he never went back to work. Those of us that do not possess “right understanding” will encounter one round of suffering after another, blaming themselves, or someone else for the pain they feel during their lives.

Cultivate some measure of “right understanding” and your sense of attachment will diminish over time and then you will suffer less. In my next blog post, I will delve into how “right thought” can be an asset in your quest to end suffering for yourself and others.

Namaste

Reference: https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

Follow me on Instagram for daily wisdom https://www.instagram.com/joersacco/


This post was proofread by Grammarly.

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

Mind, Body, Spirit books at eBooks.com

If eBooks aren’t your thing, check out my Resources page for additional ways to support this blog.

Visit my other blog Inspirational Book Reviews where I review some incredible literature.

 

 

Cause of Suffering

I think we can all agree that there is much suffering in the world. I have yet to find someone that doesn’t feel this to be true. However, as a practitioner of the Dhamma, it is important to realize the cause of suffering. Why are we suffering? Once we understand the causes of our suffering we are in a better position to address the causes. You already know there is the potential to end suffering by walking the Noble Eightfold Path. I like to look at suffering not just from Buddhist definitions, but also from a personal perspective. I would hazard to guess that most of the things I consider the causes of suffering are pretty universal and will resonate with you.

Suffering is caused by:

  • Craving – It’s pretty obvious that all those things you crave only bring suffering in the end. You might be craving material things, sex, alcohol, drugs, money, status, or any number of stupid things. Time spent craving something inherently brings you pain, feelings of unease, a focus on the future, and dissatisfaction with what you have. For most of us, craving is the #1 cause of suffering and encompasses other causes.
  • Ego – For me, this means a sense of self that craves recognition because I have some inflated view of myself. We all want to be special, but a life that is driven by ego will forever feel disappointing. We create an image of ourselves based on what we do for a living or how talented we think we are. This is a false self, one we create for this world we live in, not our true nature.
  • Envy – To some degree, we are envious of others because we crave what they have. We perceive their life to be better than our own. Envy often manifests itself in resentment. We resent that the others have it so much better than we do. They are more successful, have more money, are more attractive, have more leisure time, and the list goes on and on. Instead of being grateful for the small things in life we are envious of someone or some group of people and this causes suffering.
  • Death and Aging – We realize that someday we or someone we care about will die and leave this earth. This fact alone causes us to suffer, knowing that our time is limited and that we have wasted much of it. As we age we experience pain and the inability to do what we did when we were young and healthy, thus causing more suffering. Sometimes it just comes down to the underlying fear of death that hovers over us every day of our life.
  • Attachment – “If you observe yourself and others then you will see that people crave for pleasant experiences, crave for material things, and crave for eternal life. We are attached to sensual pleasures, wealth and power but also to ideas, views, opinion, and beliefs. Taken together, the four types of attachment are the main problems that Buddhists need to understand. The four types of attachment are 1) sense objects, 2) opinions and views, 3) rites and rituals, and 4) self-hood.” Buddhism seeks to break this attachment to these things and ideas.

There are possibly dozens of other causes of suffering, but recognizing that any of these causes may be the root of your dissatisfaction is really a good thing. Without understanding the cause of suffering all the meditation in the world will not lead to its cessation. This is maybe the most fundamental truth that Buddhism seeks to address. Life is suffering, there are causes, there is a solution, and the end of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.

You will never change your behaviour by changing the way you think until you realize what are the primary causes of your own suffering. These defilements or taints you suffer from must ultimately be addressed and eradicated. There is no Nibbana for someone that does not address their issues with ego, craving, envy, and their own mortality. In my next post, I will make a case for moving your thinking from ego and craving to service, which is another key tenant of Buddhism.

Namaste

Reference:

Guide to Buddhism: Step 5 – Eliminating Attachments

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

Follow me on Instagram for daily wisdom https://www.instagram.com/joersacco/


This post was proofread by Grammarly.

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

Mind, Body, Spirit books at eBooks.com

If eBooks aren’t your thing, check out my Resources page for additional ways to support this blog.

Visit my other blog Inspirational Book Reviews where I review some incredible literature.