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Monday, July 17, 2017

Unscholarly Buddha's Four Noble Truths

Great spiritual masters like Buddha or Christ didn't write a prescription for elite scholars and bourgeois  Yet millions of pages fill interpretation of their work through the centuries. Followers struggle to understand and follow the paths pointed by the Buddha. Perhaps a better way to follow him is to use your heart and place yourself in his heart. Something happens when you do.

Become a privileged young man with all pleasures of a principality, castles and servants. Or become a privileged child today with no financial worries, a good job, seemingly good life. Then cast your heart onto billions who suffer. Do you feel their pain? That's the feeling that caused Buddha to abandon it all, like doctor without borders or volunteer workers in war torn parts of world even today. Just like you, Buddha searched for an explanation of why all this suffering in a world that is apparently protected by an almighty benevolent kind God. He followed priests and gurus, did penance, chanted hymns, performed yoga and rituals. Found no answer. Only when he gave up the prescribed contemporary methods and sat under the bodhi tree in resignation that truth dawned on him. This he summarised as four noble truths, not a Sanskrit or pali dissertation for a Ph.D in Asian and Buddhist studies but a compassionate sharing with rest of humanity as his suffering ended.

He didn't use big words to describe his findings. He told,
  1. The truth of suffering (dukkha)
  1. The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
  1. The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
  1. The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)

These pali words are still in use where Buddha was born. They are simple words. All he meant by them is that indeed there is a cause of suffering that can be ended by following some simple techniques. 

All hell broke lose after, as gurus and priests then and now preach arduous and complex path to liberation, some suggesting an impossibility, only death can free you. So the wise ones, perhaps the same scholars who were writing texts for the priests and gurus got busy and wrote long elaborate Buddhism practices.

Just take the simpleton approach like Buddha. Be compassionate not scholarly. 

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