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Lions Roar : November 2013
The problem is suffering. The answer is waking up. Buddhism exists to address one problem: suffering. The Buddha called the truth of suffering “noble,” because recogniz- ing our suffering is the starting place and inspiration of the spiri- tual path. His second noble truth was the cause of suffering. In the West, Buddhists call this “ego.” It’s a small word that encompasses pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world. Because according to the Buddha, all suffering, large and small, starts with our false belief in a solid, separate, and continuous “I,” whose survival we devote our lives to. It feels like we’re hopelessly caught in this bad dream of “me and them” we’ve created, but we can wake up from it. This is the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering. We do this by recognizing our ignorance, the falseness of our belief in this “I.” Finally, the Buddha told us that there is a concrete way we can get there, which basically consists of discipline, effort, medita- tion, and wisdom. This is the fourth noble truth, the truth of the path. 3 Thewaytodothatisby working with your mind. So, according to the Buddha, the problem is suffer- ing, the cause is ignorance, the remedy is waking up, and the path is living mindfully, meditating, and cultivating our wisdom. There’s really only one place all that happens: in our minds. The mind is the source of both our suffering and our joy. Meditation—taming the mind—is what gets us from one to the other. Meditation is Buddhism’s basic remedy for the human condition, and its special genius. The Buddhist path of meditation begins with practices to calm our wild mind. Once the mind is focused enough to look undistractedly into reality, we develop insight into the nature of our experience, which is marked by impermanence, suffering, nonego, and emptiness. We naturally develop compassion for ourselves and all beings who suffer, and our insight allows us to help them skillfully. Finally, we experience ourselves and our world for what they have been since beginningless time, are right now, and always will be—nothing but enlightenment itself, great perfection in every way. 4 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 46