12.8.08

Some thought doodles on the first noble truth.

Some thought doodles on the first noble truth.

What is the First Noble Truth?

The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, etc.




Sometimes it is referred to in Sanskrit as Dukkha. And it is often translated as suffering. I have recently heard it translated as stress. I think that is an adequate translation.

Now, some would also call this the noble truth of Idealism. As in, we have some idea of what life should be like, and when it is different we experience suffering; or stress.

This resonated with me for some time. It seems like it is a sound idea.
But it is still an idea.

Here is my (heretical?) idea. The first noble truth is the first delusion. This delusion is caused by our memories. If, we practice concentration on the present moment, and we do not dwell on our [false?] memories than we have no thing to compare anything to but the present moment, it is an unknown.

Consider this: every moment of time is unique unto itself. While it has a past, that past is no longer reality. So how, in reality, can there be suffering?

Our memories are not a bad thing to banish, we live and we learn. But at the same time, we should not attach to them.


All of my harmful actions,
born from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion,
through body, speech, and mind,
I now fully avow.

Jordan

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if recognizing that life is suffering is a Noble truth, while perhaps thinking you can escape from suffering by focusing only on the moment is less noble --is a little narcissistic, even.

I have only a hazy notion of Buddhism but feel very attracted by the idea of escaping suffering entirely through non-attachment. But perhaps accepting the suffering is more noble, and more enlightened.

Jordan said...

Anonymous,
Is focusing on the present moment more narcissistic than clinging to our own created memories?

Without those created memories, who is there to be narcissistic, who escapes, from what?


Take care!
Jordan

Harry said...

Hi Jordan,

Is all suffering separate from the present moment?

Or is some suffering separate from the present moment?

Is physical suffering separate from the present moment as opposed to mental suffering?

Isn't suffering the present moment itself, and all of time, when we drop discriminating between past/present/future?

Maybe the present moment, regardless of what it appears to consist of is, in fact, freely manifesting, originally unconditioned and infinite. How could it exist/arise otherwise?

Regards,

Harry.

Jordan said...

ハロ Harry, Or Ha~Ro if you don't have the fonts installed:)

Thank you for your wonderful questions!

Is all suffering separate from the present moment?

NO!

is some suffering separate from the present moment?

nope

Is physical suffering separate from the present moment as opposed to mental suffering?

no-sir~ee


Isn't suffering the present moment itself, and all of time, when we drop discriminating between past/present/future?

Could you rephrase this one? I think yes though. And that I may have not explained the original post very well at all.

Please consider this. If this moment stood alone, and detached (I know its not, each moment has its own past, and future;that is a whole nother post) bear with the thought for a moment) what is the context of suffering?

Maybe the present moment, regardless of what it appears to consist of is, in fact, freely manifesting, originally unconditioned and infinite. How could it exist/arise otherwise?

Here you nail it, UNCONDITIONED!

If we are to experience the present moment, unconditioned by all of the other moments, what is suffering? How do we know it as suffering?

Here is a more practical example.
It is hot here. My ankle is slightly sore and swollen.

I feel it is hot because I know what it is like for it not to be hot. I know my ankle is sore and swollen because before I twisted it this morning it was not sore and swollen.

If I accept this moment without the context of "Knowing" than these things just are as they are.



Take care,
Jordan

Harry said...

Hi Jordan,

Indeed. 'Pooh' just hits the fan in the reality of our lives.

It seems quite natural for us to know and avoid pain and suffering (outside of the special practice of zazen) given our condition as sentient living beings with mind/bodies that can hurt etc etc.

I think Dogen acknowledged this in Genjo Koan where he said that the practice is beyond thoughts and feelings but yet... 'weeds though hated flourish and flowers though loved fall*'.

Even as we experience suffering I think we can very validly recognise and remember it as suffering and yet our practice of zazen can help us accept accept all of this in a much broader perspective. The practice is beyond our thoughts and perceptions, whatever they may be at any moment. 'Beyond an abundence [of ideas] and a scarcity [of ideas]'*

It contains and allows for it all.

Regards,

Harry.

*off-the-top-of-my-head paraphrase... I'm not near the book.

Jordan said...

Hi Harry,

It contains and allows for it all.

I like that.

Take care,
Jordan

Thanks for looking!