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Lions Roar : March 2018
The path that Buddha presented in this context is known as the noble eightfold path. In general, the eightfold path consists of perfecting our training in the three areas of discipline or ethics, meditation, and wisdom. Specifically, the eight branches of this path are the trainings in right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mind- fulness, and right concentration. Altogether, the path provides us with many methods for working with and overcoming our ego-clinging and disturbing emotions. When we are following this path, it is important to develop a genuine sense of renunciation, of wanting to free ourselves from samsaric existence altogether. True renunciation is the result of understanding the truth of suffering and recogniz- ing its pervasiveness—that wherever you are born, whatever your circumstances are, samsara is basically an experience of suffering. Of course, it is not an actual physical location that we are trying to escape but a mental state—the convoluted and tor- tuous quality that is inherent in our individual experience of samsara. It is the wish to be free of such suffering that is the basis of earnestly seeking liberation. While there are many practices that will lead one gradually to liberation, the Buddha said that the principal cause for achiev- ing liberation is the realization of egolessness. Buddha simply taught that “the self,” or entity identified as “I,” is imperma- nent in nature and does not exist inherently; it is empty of any true, solid existence. Realizing this truth is what frees us from suffering. Therefore, without realizing egolessness, there is no way one can achieve any degree of real freedom. DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE is a teacher in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Vajrayana Buddhism and founder of Nalandabodhi. He is the author of Emotional Rescue and Rebel Buddha. * A Feedback Loop of Virtue by Sylvia Boorstein THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS taught by the Buddha make so much sense. Every step of the path involves an ordinary, everyday reality of our lives as human beings. It’s a never-end- ing, self-supporting system in which every piece of it builds all the other parts: the more we understand the causes of suffering, the greater our intention; the wiser and more com- passionate our behavior, the clearer our minds; the deeper our understanding of suffering, the stronger our intention. So it goes, over and over. When I teach about the four noble truths, this is how I express them: 1. Life is challenging. For everyone. Our physical bodies, our relationships—all of our life circumstances are fragile and subject to change. We are always accommodating. 2. The cause of suffering is the mind’s struggle in response to challenge. 3. The end of suffering—a non-struggling, peaceful mind—is a possibility. 4. The program for ending suffering is the eightfold path. It is: 1. Wise understanding: realizing the cause of suffering; 2. Wise intention: motivation to end suffering; 3. Wise speech: speaking in a way that cultivates clarity; 4. Wise action: behaving in ways that maintain clarity; 5. Wise livelihood: supporting oneself in a wholesome way; 6. Wise effort: cultivating skillful (peaceful) mind habits; 7. Wise concentration: cultivating a steady, focused, ease-filled mind; 8. Wise mindfulness: cultivating alert, balanced attention. The four noble truths seem complex, but what the Buddha taught was simple: When we see clearly, we behave impeccably. Acting wisely and compassionately is the imperative of a heart that realizes the depth of suffering in the world. I summarize it this way: “When we see clearly, we behave impeccably and out of love, on behalf of all beings.” SYLVIA BOORSTEIN is a PhD psychologist and leading teacher of Insight Meditation. She is the author of such classics as Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake and Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. * Become a Noble Being by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche BUDDHISM TAKES DHUKKA—the Sanskrit word most often translated as suffering—very seriously. There is so much we can learn from the experience of dhukka, which describes the full gamut of cyclic conditioned existence, the wheel of samsara caused by our habitual clinging. As long as we are caught up or enmeshed in samsaric states, holding on to a fixed version of reality, we experience many forms of suffering. But we do not need to. They are avoidable. Buddhism teaches us that if we cultivate the right attitude and are able to look simply into ourselves and our perspectives, predilections, and habit patterns, we can reduce and ultimately eliminate the avoidable forms of suffering. Once we have accepted that we are subject to forms of dhukka that can be avoided, there are two parts to the solu- tion: looking at the causes of dhukka and finding the means LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 46