The Four Noble Truths
I am your disciple
Your teachings have brought me peace
My heart is now open
Your teachings I now teach.
The Buddha most compassionately uttered that all humans suffer. All of us will get sick, have our hearts broken, experience the heartache of losing loved ones, and eventually die ourselves. This was the first Noble Truth.
But we also suffer because of our egos. Unlike death, sickness, and having our heart broken, we can control our egos. Ego is what drives us to do things that are out of accord with the way. Life can never appease the ego because it always wants more. This is the craving mind. And recognition of the second Noble Truth.
If we cling to pleasure or repress the pain, we are out of balance. The Buddha never said anything about not enjoying what is already present. Instead, he warned not to reach for or become attached to pleasure. Because even when we attain our goals and get what we want, the mind immediately starts looking for the next destination. The Buddha recognized the emptiness of egoic pleasure and warned about obsessive chasing of it.
The way is found not by reaching for the positive or denying the negative.
This is The Middle Way. Sitting in the center of the wheel unaltered as it rotates. With the cessation of desire, clinging, and attachment comes the relinquishment of suffering (dependent arising). This was the third Noble Truth.
As you choose differently and stop giving consciousness to the things you are trying to abandon, attachment and craving will eventually cease. The same way you stop craving sugar after abstaining from it for a few weeks. Replacing unhealthy attachment with loving-kindness and non-attachment brings balance.
The Buddha is rightfully known for compassion. The blessed one taught to have a love for oneself and to extend loving-kindness to the world. But the Buddha should also be known for self-discipline. Specifically, meditation and guarding the senses and actions not to think, say, or do things that will create more negative karma. The path to the cessation of suffering is the fourth Noble Truth.
The way lies on the axis of self-love and self-discipline.
So if we aren’t supposed to reach for pleasure or deny pain, how shall we conduct our minds? The answer is mindfulness. There is a richness to be found for those who keep mind aligned with the present moment. Focus on the past or future creates an imbalance.
Another name for this balance is equanimity. When one is not excited about the positive nor upset about the negative equilibrium is not disturbed. This stability creates personal power.
Meditation is the primary way that a Buddhist disciplines their mind and finds a union of mind and body. The Buddha said that there are levels of awareness below sense perception and thought. That by stilling the mind they are found.
The heart opens when the mind is still.
Meditation, not chasing pleasure, not becoming attached to even the positive. This may all sound pretty boring to someone who hasn’t experienced the bliss of a Kundalini spiral or the sublime serenity of stillness. But, those who have experienced this know a greater reality than giving into the fleeting satisfaction of the ego. A Serenity of mind and body, tapping into an energy that is youthful and full. Creative and divine. But it is a choice.
All of life is a choice. Because both ego and spirit occupy our psyche, our nature is both good and bad – chaos and order. Acting from the impulses of the ego brings imbalance. Life is about free will. Let us choose words, thoughts, and actions that don’t bring us out of balance.