Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Duncan January 13, 91
So often with the meditation group and with the general interest of people, there is always a strong theme of wanting to be positioned in a positive way emotionally to always look at the bright side of things, and to avoid a certain fundamental nature which is in existence. It is interesting that as time passes, if we start to observe, that there really is the first Noble Truth of Suffering is true. That the Buddha really hit the nail on the head when he presented that as being the first of the great truths to realize about reality. That our existence is could be termed suffering or you could term it as dissatisfactions in the sense that if you rely on it, you will find it will be unreliable. Therefore the first Noble Truth of Suffering is basically a fundamental nature. And so much of what we are particularly in the west is an avoidance of that. And either we try to cover it up or hide it, or try to basically try to distract ourselves. So if there is any suffering we just distract ourselves and try to other things as if it never happened.
For this evening I thought it would be appropriate to talk on the Noble Truth of Suffering, and the four fundamental sufferings which we experience as human beings and allow that to be the meditation for the evening. By that is meant in the world, in existence, there is four sufferings, but let's move into three sufferings because they are general. There is the sufferings of change, the suffering of suffering, and the suffering of pervasiveness. The nature of reality is that if we look for things to be stable, the actual nature is that they are unstable. And particularly in the nature of looking for comforts, happiness, release of tension, we rely a great deal upon the suffering of change to be able to make us think that things are alright. By that, the general idea is, the suffering of change is the fact that everything fluctuates, and if we rely on anything too long, that object becomes a suffering. So it is important to appreciate that in reality, that when you are involved with things, you are merely getting a short term release from the basic nature of reality which is dissatisfaction in anything that you pursue. That is the basic nature of reality.
In presenting that the Buddha said that the first Noble Truth of Suffering is, in cyclic existence as long as our mind remains unrealized, we will be continuously caught by suffering, dissatisfaction, birth, old age death, all the various things which will afflict us. So in the suffering of change, for example, there is first that we are born into a world and we are not very capable of dealing with it. We need to be nurtured and cared for. And so therefore we suffer the inability and having to learn to do everything again. In that situation, it doesn't remain status. We then grow older, in the process of change a long time, we try to learn basic skills so we can deal with reality. As we move into those things, of course it does not stay permanent, we move further, we have to make decisions, take a job, think that maybe this is right, but then the world is not very stable, it is also in the process of change, so maybe we get a certain type of job, the job evaporates, and we move to another job, then maybe the economy changes, and then again we have to switch over. So the whole of our mature time is continuously fraught with changes.
If we look at what we have to experience in each moment, right now interest rates and mortgages are always changing. Maybe a little while ago maybe we locked in our mortgage in at 14% and all of a sudden the rate is down to 12% and we suffer because maybe we have to pay extra money to the bank. Sounds silly, but think about it. Six months ago we were paying forty or fifty cents a litre for gas, and now we are almost paying seventy cents. As long as our minds are just mundane, then we suffer by that. But again we become numb to that and think it is not too much of a problem, and then after awhile again we have lots of suffering. The suffering of change, the suffering of the basically not having a stable situation to rely upon.
For this evenings meditation, although there is a solution to having to experience that, the main solution is to start to realize that that is the nature of reality, and if we do not have the expectation that things will be always stable, or comfortable, then when change happens and we have to suffer the ups and downs, we will be more accepting. We will not be as caught by the flux and flow of reality.
Mostly for the meditation we should always utilize those techniques of having the three analogies of being open like space, deep like the ocean and stable like a mountain, and allowing yourself to settle to that level of consciousness which is just open and aware. In that the theme for this evening is to allow yourself to think what happened during the week? What did you have to go through during this last week? And if you look at it in a little different perspective, from the Buddhist perspective where he is saying that this is the Noble Truth of Suffering, that samsara is suffering, then look at your week and question what happened. And if you go through each day you will find there is some minor dissatisfaction you had to deal with. If you allow yourself to reflect in an open manner, you will realize that is a lot of what happened. Well we want to try to ignore it instead of getting caught up in it. But that is not reality.
If you come down to it, our world is on the point of war and it could be a major one as time passes on. Even in this world we have continuous instability. Again the main emphasis is to allow yourself to settle into the three analogies of being stable, open and deep. In that, then allow a certain portion of your mind to investigate how you are dealing with the experiences that you have. And see, do you just avoid suffering which is continually thrown at you, and you try to ignore it, or are you more in tune with reality and being conscious of the fact that samsara is unsatisfactory. It is not reliable and therefore you do not put so much emphasis to it. You learn how to withdraw your reliance upon cyclic existence and become more an inner person, a stable person because you rely on your inner realizations to maintain tranquillity, stability, inner happiness and such, alright?
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