The Promises of Buddhism

This is where it gets interesting, the promises of Buddhism is that it doesn’t promise anything: what do you promise yourself is more important of what the outside world promises to you.  Because only the promises that you make yourself are the ones that are going to be maintained.
Are they?

Welcome to Buddhism.

And remember that it’s a journey.

And it’s the most personal journey, you are the passenger, you are the vehicle, you are in the driver’s seat, and you set the pace, there’s no road ahead, only an infinite ocean, and you can go anywhere and everywhere, or just stay there, or go and return.  And the farter you go . . . there you are.

The promise of Buddhism is a personal one, there are no set rules, only guidance – if you so choose – feel free to follow the guidance, but don’t follow anything blindly.  Take anything given to you for a test drive. Does it work for you?  How does it feel?  Change it, modify it, make it yours, or simply put it away for later on, or just simply discard it, it is your journey, and yours only.

The first thing for most people approaching Buddhism is to understand The Four Noble Truths. From Wikipedia:

According to the Pali Tipitaka, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered as containing the essence of the Buddha’s teachings and are presented in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription – a style common at that time:

  1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering (dukkha) in one way or another.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving or attachments to worldly pleasures of all kinds. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or people that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness.
  3. Suffering ends when craving ends, when one is freed from desire. This is achieved by eliminating all delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
  4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.

This interpretation is followed closely by many modern Theravadins,[citation needed] described by early Western scholars, and taught as an introduction to Buddhism by some contemporary Mahayana teachers (e.g., the Dalai Lama).

According to other interpretations by Buddhist teachers and scholars and lately recognized by some Western scholars the “truths” do not represent mere statements, but divisions or aspects of most phenomena, which fall into one of these four categories, grouped in two:

  1. Suffering and causes of suffering
  2. Cessation and the paths towards liberation from suffering.

Thus, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism they are:

  1. “the noble truth that is suffering”
  2. “the noble truth that is the arising of suffering”
  3. “the noble truth that is the end of suffering”
  4. “the noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering”

The early teaching, and the traditional understanding in the Theravada, is that the four noble truths are an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching for people not yet ready for the higher and more expansive Mahayana teachings. They are little known in the Far East.

The keyword here is Suffering.  In Buddhism suffering is not what we, western educated and minded individuals have embedded in us, it is the Buddhism interpretations of Suffering, and the end of Suffering is not associated with the end of the (external) cause of suffering, but within ourselves, the end of our subjective sentient suffering, that is the outcome of Buddhism Practice (enphasis on Practice).

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Photography by: Carol Mitchell (cc) stairs to Buddhism
Artwork by BuddhismLite.com (cc)

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