The first noble truth

Thoughts and Opinions

I was at my meditation group last night, listening to our teacher talk about the 4 noble truths. As she was talking I had an insight.

You have probably heard of the 4 Noble Truths. They are a central teaching of Buddhism. When I first encountered Buddhism this is how they were presented:

  1. Life is suffering
  2. Suffering is caused by desire
  3. There is a way out of suffering
  4. The way out of suffering is to follow the Eightfold path.

I liked this practical list very much because I wanted to find a way out of my suffering. But it took me a long time to realize I couldn’t get off so easily. The fact that I wanted to find a way out of my suffering was causing me suffering. Hence the 2nd Noble Truth.

The key is to turn inward and accept the suffering. Maybe even honor it. For me it was the grief over losing my stepdad. It was so unbearably painful to watch him die and I wanted to feel anything but that pain. But, instead, I really needed to feel the pain. I needed to accept it and feel it. And, indeed, in accepting it and moving through it, I found my way out of it.

So the insight last night for me was that suffering is part of the path.