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The Buddha had an evil cousin named Devadatta who was insanely jealous of the Buddha. Devadatta even tried three times to kill the Buddha. On one of those occasions Devadatta pushed a rock off a cliff to try to kill the Buddha who was sitting below in meditation. The rock struck and injured the Buddha’s foot. The Buddha felt and noted the painful injury, but did he suffer? The answer is, “No.”
The process of pain has a physical-mental quality to it; suffering on the other hand has a purely mental quality to it. You don’t need physical pain to facilitate suffering. The loss of one’s job brings on tremendous suffering, but it doesn’t spring forth from a physical injury. This brings up the Buddha’s teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path consists of: Right Understanding, Right Thoughts, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
The Noble Eightfold Path is number four in the Buddha’s Doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. Those Four Noble Truths are: 1. Suffering exists. 2. Suffering has a cause (namely, craving). 3. There is a way to end suffering. 4. The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to end suffering and bring about the dawn of “True Happiness” (Nirvana).
We train ourselves to walk the Noble Path by purifying our minds to be better able to see the truth of what is ; as we sharpen our skills of Right Understanding, Thoughts, Speech, Action, etc. We do this primarily through the practice of meditation. This can take many forms, but the primary focus of meditative practice is an awareness of one’s breath.
Meditation also has wonderful practical benefits for the average person in reducing stress, calming the mind, improving concentration, helping with physical ailments that are prompted by stress, and inculcating a general sense of well-being. Join us.
The Buddha said, “I only teach two things: suffering exists and there is a way to make it stop.”
In the ancient language of Pali, the word for suffering (or unsatisfactory conditions) is “Dukkha.” There is a sense of suffering in everything that we human beings do. However small it may be. It could be getting up in the morning when the alarm clock rings when you would rather sleep in; it could be getting stuck in a traffic jam; or it could be involvement in some kind of a social function in which you would rather not participate.
Dukkha can also be a catastrophic event like losing a loved one or being involved in a serious accident in which you are badly injured. Look at how we have to survive from day to day; we have to do it by eating. Of course, when one thing eats, another thing dies (either a plant or an animal). With this in mind, the late Dr. Joseph Campbell said, “When you think about life; it really is a horrible idea.” (The little fish devours the plant, the big fish devours the little fish, and the bigger fish devours the big fish.) This is life.
However, the Buddha said, “The mind is forerunner.” What we see as suffering – everything from stubbing your toe to observing the food chain – comes from the human mind. It’s the mind that defines suffering. Human beings, unlike other animals, have the power of conceptual thought. And, with that power of conceptual thought we make characterizations of the things we observe in our environment, for instance: suffering.
If we have a relative who has passed away after a long illness, we generally ask each other the question, “Did he suffer?” Suffering could be described as continuous pain. The Buddha’s teaching suggests that human beings are in the unique position of being able to put an end to suffering – both the large sufferings and the small sufferings.
May all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from harm