open thread friday

"i'm just sitting here watching the wheel go round and round- i really love to watch them roll..."

i have been thinking about the state of the world quite a bit lately. i know that comes as a great big surprise :) global warming to globalization; war and violence versus peace and harmony; religions versus religions- it's all swirling around in my head. chaos in there like the rest of the world i guess. i started thinking about words used to defend or promote the violence and division- words that incite and harm. i have had a looong day. :) i guess i am just a pilgrim seeking nirvana while wandering on the wheel of becoming.

anyhoo- my original intent was to do a kind of cause and effect, tit for tat kind of post where i could show how the ugly nature of human beings transcends race, religion, creed and culture. i wanted to implore folks to realize- just this once- that we are all HUMAN BEINGS on this planet- all the same species- and only our cultures are different. but i realized that it wouldn't make a difference. i would be preaching to a choir that already gets it. i find it amusing, i guess, that we humans put so much effort into proving our differences in order to be the best- to be better than everyone else- to be special- while at the same time stereotyping entire groups of people into one big mass in order to put ourselves above them. not funny i guess.

i have been studying some of the buddhist tenets recently- my curiousity piqued by a fellow blogger- and i really found them fairly simple. deceptively simple. there are basically 12 things to know- the four noble truths and the eightfold path. sounds easy, right? well, there's a reason why christianity, islam, judaism, and hinduism are the dominant religions on the planet- they are the lazy way out. those religions tell the lazy what to believe, how to live, and who to like without much thought on the follower's part. there is constant conflict and violence against nonbelievers in the name of their god or gods. with buddhism- whoo! it is all up to you. when the going gets tough- you don't have satan to blame everything on- you have to look yourself in the mirror and figure out where you went wrong on your path. pretty scary stuff. luckily, buddhist folks don't seem to be intolerant or divisive. i haven't heard of any buddhist wars- i suppose i could be wrong but i can't recall every hearing about one.

so- i am going to open the gate to the path towards enlightenment and peace by giving you the noble truths. common sense and deceptively simple. but i found them very profound.
  • Life means suffering.

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

  • The origin of suffering is attachment.

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursue of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

  • The cessation of suffering is attainable.

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

  • The path to the cessation of suffering.

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.

cross posted at life's journey and the peace train


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