An alternative perspective on the ‘Four Noble Truths’
You probably know the lovely simile that the Buddha used about someone needing to cross a large expanse of dangerous water because the current shore is dubious and risky, but the further shore is secure and free from risk. He says that you would gather together whatever was needed to make a raft that would keep you safe and direct you across the water… but once you get to the security of the far shore you can leave the raft behind and continue your journey. You don’t have to drag the raft around for the rest of your life!
In the Buddha’s first talk – after he awakened to life as it really is – he shared 4 important realisations…
He proposed that the basic-pattern-of-things (Dhamma/Dharma) means that life is inherently, unavoidably and naturally painful, difficult and disappointing and suggested that we investigate and fully understand how this pain manifests and what it actually means to each and every one of us.
This was his first realisation… this was his first teaching!
He goes on to point out that much of the pain of life comes as a result of our human inclinations, our compulsions, and our preferences and aversions, which he says, can be overcome and abandoned.
He then says that it is possible for anyone to personally experience… and to personally verify the absence of these compulsions…
I would say that anyone ‘in recovery’ has shared this experience but we forget (which is the opposite of mindfulness) to remember just how much we have achieved in recovery. We forget to acknowledge and appreciate that in a Buddhist sense we have found freedom from craving, freedom from aversion and freedom from confusion.
….and lastly, the Buddha suggests that we actively engage in a programme that supports the abandonment of harmful compulsions and minimises unnecessary and avoidable pain.
So, the appropriate response to this basic-patterns-of-things might look like…
– Recognise (realise) what it is to be human. – Abandon painful compulsions and addictions. – Familiarise yourself with what it feels like to be free from compulsions [craving, aversion and confusion] – Train (teach and transform) your body and mind to live a good life.
Everyone is equally invited to contribute; but ‘sharing’ is optional and voluntary.
You do not have to agree with the topic.
There should be no interruptions during individual sharing.
There should be no criticism, or personal comments – although a response is ok if its relevant
Please pause before you share – to provide a space for ideas to become embodied.
Please try to suspend assumptions and judgement; and not to to convince others.
‘Sharing’ should not driven by fear of censure or judgement, or by the desire for “success”.
You are encouraged to be open to the whole experience – the whole is greater than the sum of the individual contributions.
Putting these guidelines into effect requires buy-in from all participants – from the whole Group. We do this using the guidelines for Bohmian Dialogue. These are based on principles laid down by David Bohm, a theoretical physicist (b. 1917), an associate of J. Krishnamurti and A. Einstein, and advisor to the Dalai Lama.
From Hungry Ghost To Being Human – Foundations of Awakening & Recovery
A series of talks by Vince Cullen exploring Buddhist-oriented practices and principals that are intended to lead away from avoidable-suffering and to move towards the potential end of avoidable-suffering. The source material is contained in the free ‘From Hungry Ghost To Being Human’ booklet and ‘The Forgiveness Workbook‘.
Avoidable-suffering is universal and takes many forms, however, this series of talks may be of particular interest to anyone currently struggling with the three fires of Cravings, Aversions and Confusions.
This series of online talks ran over 8-weeks and was based on the foundational principles and practices of the Fifth Precept Sangha (Community) as follows:
“For me, these are my personal ‘foundations’ of awakening and recovery. I say awakening and recovery but they are really the same thing. These ‘foundations’ are the principles and practices that I wish someone had told me 24-years ago when I first woke up to living life without intoxicants.”
Truth, Karma and Commitment to Awakening
Generosity in Thoughts, Words and Actions
Living in Harmony: Ethics-Harmlessness-Blamelessness