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Thread: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

  1. #51

    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    I think it important that we examine the Four Noble Truths along the lines of the idea of the Wheel that so many of us have brought up already. The image of the wheel is important when we talk about the Way, because you can see its mechanics and interpret them in the terms of the Dharma. I think that the Four Noble Truths were first taught by the Buddha, because they are like the hub of the wheel. At the Hub, all things are connected, and here is where the greatest weight can be found. Like wise, the Four Noble Truths touch every part of our practice, and our entire practice pivots on the strength of these Truths. All the aspects of our practice are like the spokes coming out of the hub. Just as necessary to the operation of the wheel, after all what would you connect the rim to if there were no spokes!?! By themselves, though, they are only appendages; without the central hub of the Four Noble Truths, we have nothing to connect our practice to. Why sit shikantaza without the Truth that suffering can be ended by following the 8 fold noble path? Why be mindful and compassionate without the First Noble Truth and the light it causes within us, that there is Great Suffering in this world? With the 4 Noble Truths, the “Why” becomes clear. We do these things because there is Great Suffering. We do these things because we know that Suffering is because of delusions and attachments. We know the Truth that there is a way to end this Suffering for all beings, and the way in which we work is the 8 fold Noble Path. As the Wheel turns, the hub is still the focus of the wheel but different spokes take up the burden at different times, and perhaps the rim is our realization of how the “rubber meets the road” and the karma that our actions create in this world.

    That’s my take on why he taught this first, anyway. Could be wrong.

    Maybe it was like cleaning a messy room, you just pick a place, any place will do, and work out from there. :mrgreen:

  2. #52
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    I by chance started re-reading Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs last night and he starts right with the 4NTs.
    His main emphasis is that 'each truth requires being ated upon in its own particular way; understanding anguish, letting go of its origins, realizing its cessation, and cultivating the path.
    He states that in this way the 4NTs remain truths to be acted on rather than propositions of fact to be believed.
    Powerful stuff and a subtle difference that changes the 4NTs from being 'a practice' to that of being a code of a religion.

  3. #53

    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    I by chance started re-reading Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs last night and he starts right with the 4NTs.
    His main emphasis is that 'each truth requires being a[c]ted upon in its own particular way; understanding anguish, letting go of its origins, realizing its cessation, and cultivating the path.
    He states that in this way the 4NTs remain truths to be acted on rather than propositions of fact to be believed.
    Powerful stuff and a subtle difference that changes the 4NTs from being 'a practice' to that of being a code of a religion.
    Hello Heisoku,

    I do agree that seeing them as something to be acted upon, rather than taken solely on faith puts an interesting and perhaps useful spin on them. That being said, they are still "propositions of fact to be believed." Everything we do, we do out of faith, whether it's eating or sleeping or walking or driving a car--the only way that the noble truths can be acted upon, as it were, is if the practitioner believes that this understanding, letting go, realizing, and cultivating will prove effective and worthwhile.

    One has to believe on some level that an activity will pay off, whether one calls it "faith" or "hypothesis" or a "hunch" or anything else, no?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  4. #54

    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    I by chance started re-reading Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs last night and he starts right with the 4NTs.
    His main emphasis is that 'each truth requires being a[c]ted upon in its own particular way; understanding anguish, letting go of its origins, realizing its cessation, and cultivating the path.
    He states that in this way the 4NTs remain truths to be acted on rather than propositions of fact to be believed.
    Powerful stuff and a subtle difference that changes the 4NTs from being 'a practice' to that of being a code of a religion.
    Hello Heisoku,

    I do agree that seeing them as something to be acted upon, rather than taken solely on faith puts an interesting and perhaps useful spin on them. That being said, they are still "propositions of fact to be believed." Everything we do, we do out of faith, whether it's eating or sleeping or walking or driving a car--the only way that the noble truths can be acted upon, as it were, is if the practitioner believes that this understanding, letting go, realizing, and cultivating will prove effective and worthwhile.

    One has to believe on some level that an activity will pay off, whether one calls it "faith" or "hypothesis" or a "hunch" or anything else, no?

    Metta,

    Saijun
    I may have misunderstood some of what you were saying here, but I don't know that I agree. We do not really take the 4NT's on "faith" in the sense that we believe in something we have no proof of. I think of it more in the sense of "being faithful". The 4NT's, as with everything Shakyamuni taught are subject to the same verification process. Great Faith can only follow Great Doubt. The 4 NT's, at least in my life, have proven themselves time and again to be Truths. I find that there is a fundamental difference between "Fact" and "Truth". Truths are self proving and immutable, where a fact can be made to reflect the belief of either side of an argument.

  5. #55

    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    Hello Heitetsu,

    What I meant was that, like any other experiment, one cannot know for sure until you attempt it. In this way, the whole path is a dynamic expression of faith, practice, and verification. Just as the adherents of the Pure Land school faithfully practice Nembutsu, we enter into Master Dogen's Practice-Enlightenment, putting faith in the methods passed down through an unbroken line of Buddhas and Ancestors, culminating in our own teachers as a true vehicle to practice the Buddha-Way until we verify it for ourselves. But it all begins with faith, with putting trust in the teachings until we realize their veracity personally, intimately.

    Just my own view, incomplete at best and completely wrong at worst, but fully sincere.

    With Metta,

    Saijun

  6. #56

    Re: your truth about The Four Noble Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello Heitetsu,

    What I meant was that, like any other experiment, one cannot know for sure until you attempt it. In this way, the whole path is a dynamic expression of faith, practice, and verification. Just as the adherents of the Pure Land school faithfully practice Nembutsu, we enter into Master Dogen's Practice-Enlightenment, putting faith in the methods passed down through an unbroken line of Buddhas and Ancestors, culminating in our own teachers as a true vehicle to practice the Buddha-Way until we verify it for ourselves. But it all begins with faith, with putting trust in the teachings until we realize their veracity personally, intimately.

    Just my own view, incomplete at best and completely wrong at worst, but fully sincere.

    With Metta,

    Saijun
    I feel that all are saying the same here. We may have to take the Four Noble Truths, the power of Shikantaza, and much more on "trust" (if the word "faith" is too loaded for you) at the outset, when new to Buddhist Practice. But then, soon, one starts to find that the "Proof Is In The Pudding", and these things actually prove their medicinal value in this very life.

    Anyway, such has been the case in my life.

    Gassho, J

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