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The first noble truth

The first noble truth

Postby chankin1937 on Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:39 pm

Ordinary life is misery (suffering).
It is quite commonly believed by Buddhists that birth, sickness, ageing and death - in fact all the components of ordinary life - are “suffering”. Even pleasures (because of their impermanence) are categorised as suffering. This is obviously not true, for we in the West lead tolerably comfortable lives which could not on balance be truly described as “suffering” (dukkha). If this translation is inadequate, what did the Buddha mean?
Dr. Michael Carrithers in his book “The Buddha” translates sections of the" Samyutta Nikaya" which offer us refinements of the popular understanding of what dukkha is. He says: “Association with what is disliked is suffering, dissociation from what is desired is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering.” As Dr Carrithers says, “It is also a more general description of suffering, not only as it accompanies the crises of life, but as it appears in everyday situations which might not occasion lamentation but rather an acute consciousness of failure, or of frustration, or of unfulfilled yearning: The missed opportunity, the baffled effort, the irksome routine, the petty irritation of life with others. Here dukkha might be translated not as “suffering” but as something less grand but more pervasive: discomfort, dissatisfaction or discontent.”
Towards the end of this description of the first truth in the Samyutta Nikaya Dr Carrithers notes that a further refinement is introduced: “in sum all the aspects of experience in the mind and body … are suffering.” Dr Carrithers goes on to say, “This is the definition of suffering which leads to the heart of what is original in the Buddha’s teaching… Here suffering is seen as being woven most finely into the texture of human experience; here experience is considered on the smallest timescale, from second to second…..”
CH "All experience" rules out the experience of Nirvana! Perhaps it would be better to say "all data management" - or "all conscoius mental activity". Once free of that we become aware of mind in a perfectly happy condition - of Nirvana.
So the first noble truth becomes: Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.
CH
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby Jok_Hae on Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:20 pm

This is obviously not true, for we in the West lead tolerably comfortable lives which could not on balance be truly described as “suffering” (dukkha).


Completely disagree...these words reflect a misunderstanding of Dukkha, imho.

Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.


If this is the case, I hope I never reach Nirvana!! :peace:
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby macdougdoug on Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:35 pm

"Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity." - Why the use of the word conscious?

Nirvana is the extinction of mental activity. - is silly - but still, what u mean by your sentence?

I like : Nirvana is the extinction of good and bad
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:32 pm

hi, Colin,

"Picking and choosing" a few stand-out phrases in your appreciation of the First Noble Truth, and its upshot:

chankin1937 wrote:This is obviously not true, for we in the West lead tolerably comfortable lives which could not on balance be truly described as “suffering” (dukkha).

Look at the Shakyamuni Buddha's biography: he lived in not-so-"modern" times, nor in "the West", but his family was ruling-class, and he had all the comforts and luxuries that could only be called luxuriant and opulent. Material comforts. And comforts and satisfactions of family. Yet, he left his wife and child and family, because of some perceived or felt lack. Evidently, he didn't feel satisfied. Even as a Prince!

"Dukha" is said to come from a root word that means "off-center", or "eccentric", like a wheel of an ox cart that is not centered on the axle. So Shakyamuni's assessment or characterization of "Ordinary" life -- after his Awakening -- is that it is centered wrongly. It's imbalanced. It's out of alignment. And, yes, there is sickness, old age, and death. Even the richest kings have that trio of ends to look forward to!

So. I think Dukha really is an off-centeredness, and an agonizing. Some say, "suffering", but that seems uni-dimensional, when the fact is rather more 3-D.

Modern denizens of course face old age, sickness, and death, too. But there's also the off-centeredness of not being fully awake, and having facets or fields of our original nature covered by the concerns and energy-consumption of "desire(s)" (and attachment). Thus, we "Moderns" are not better off than Shakyamuni's family's lot, I'd say: except, that we have Buddhadharma given to us, while Shakyamuni had to discover it (well, so do we, really).

chankin1937 wrote: Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.

That's not contained in the Four Noble Truths! Instead, it's the extinction of craving and attachment that lead to ending Dukha. It's called, "The Great Cessation". When desires and attachment drop, then the fullness of the mind manifests itself. Not before! I say "fullness", but we could say "emptiness": there is no sticking-place. And no central figure we call a "self". But Wisdom and Compassion arise unimpeded, simultaneously and spontaneously, in closest accord with circumstances (zero separation).

Well... and so we practice.

The Fourth Truth names the Way of practice, in original Buddhism (by "Buddhism", I mean Buddhist practice, with Teacher and Sangha). And the way of practice, then, was outlined in the Eightfold Path.

Thanks, Colin, good of you to bring in the First "NT". Good to revisit (or start) at square-one.

best,

--Joe
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby Herbie on Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:43 pm

chankin1937 wrote:“suffering” (dukkha)

Better you translate it as "stress" then nirvana is "relaxation". I think this makes more sense.
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby Chrisd on Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:58 pm

chankin1937 wrote:So the first noble truth becomes: Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.


People have reported emotions and mental activity to appear yet they feel aloof and free from it. "peace of mind despite success" :lol2: so it's not that simple.

Yet, so knowing that it's just one way of looking at it(don't attach to it too much :lol2: ), you may be interested in this approach here.

Like the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths with a psychotherapeutic twist, Weber has it down to a terse progression: “I had suffering, it came from my attachments. My attachments cause me to slip over into the narrator. If I stop that, I lose my suffering.

http://www.psychologytomorrowmagazine.c ... ering-end/

The focus there is on the underlying attachments. These are key, the narrator or the conscious mental activity is a by-product of that. It's like the tip of the iceberg if you only focus on the conscious mental activity and/or the absence of it, you miss the point.
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby fukasetsu on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:00 pm

chankin1937 wrote:what did the Buddha mean?


You just demonstrated it, look closely.

So the first noble truth becomes: Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.
CH


What has never been created cannot be exterminated, "the one who awakens is the one who has dissappeared"
Hence no being has ever entered Nirvana.

Here is a hint that relates to the 1st noble truth;
thoughts are temporary and arise due to conditions.

How did your analysis and interpretation of the 1st noble truth come into being?
Giving lure to the way of interpretation (or whatever dope show of mind) can't help you understand what the Buddha meant.
Just pay attention.
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby chankin1937 on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:09 pm

My use of the phrase "concious mental activity" had to contain the word "conscious" because there are many autonomic functions of the brain which it would be unwise to shut down :-). Like the one that governs the rate at which our heart beats for instance. (The opposite phrase is "concious mental inactivity" - that's Nirvana.)
The mandatory satisfaction of life sustaining appetites is best achieved by using our intellect and acting morally - by preferring good to bad - right to wrong.
The reward for sucessful action - the common human goal- is happiness. This depends on not using our intellect
. It has fulfilled its role. The zen goal is achieved once we have abstained from conscious mental activity entirely, so does not use moral concepts nor any other concepts for that matter.
I do not view Nirvana as a permanent state. It can be accessible once our obligations to society are fufilled. There are major advatages to be gained through meditation but I feel sure you would agree that it would be impractical to be in a permanent state of mental inactivity.
Colin
P.S. Where is my spellchecker?
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby macdougdoug on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:25 pm

The brain governs the heart? Are we sure? IMO more like mutual tickling

Nirvana is : actively not thinking? Surely this is more like pretending to be a vegetable?

Maybe you are on to something, but the words are not working - better luck next time!
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby organizational on Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:20 pm

chankin1937 wrote:I do not view Nirvana as a permanent state..I feel sure you would agree that it would be impractical to be in a permanent state of mental inactivity


I tell you what is perfect- This is perfect..
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby Herbie on Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:25 pm

macdougdoug wrote:Surely this is more like pretending to be a vegetable?

What makes you different from a vegetable is that a vegetable does not speculate about fantasies like nirvana :lol2:
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:31 pm

Colin,

It's not that there are no thoughts. It's just that there are no thoughts when one does not need or want there to be thoughts.

There is no "narration" throughout the day. This seems miraculous, and marvelous: What there is without all that narration- noise chatter stands out very much more sharply and clearly.

But... one can still do advanced mathematics, say, and can solder the correct wires to the correct pins of IC sockets on a PC board, working from a circuit diagram or wire-list. How do I know? Because I've done this. In my case, the first opening lasted a bit over two months. Gradual erosion occurred as I took on too much extra work, and could not or did not devote the proper amount of time to continued practice. But there have been other openings since. In Chan and Zen Buddhist writings, in biographies of teachers or other monastics, you'll find that multiple awakenings or openings are the norm, and natural.

The true functioning of our mind is a state of flexibility, not habit: usually no thoughts are needed, and so none arise. When thinking is needed, it happens successfully, ...and leaves no residue. A lot of energy is saved this way, and one's relations with others are closer, because the "other" has your full attention, when you're not thinking about baseball, or what to have for dinner.

It may be a subtle observation, but when not in the awakened state, one usually has thoughts moving all the time. Meditation tends to minimize this over time, and helps us find out some things about "the physiology of thought". Yes, physiology. Awakening reveals much more.

Well, I hope I haven't said too much.

best regards,

--Joe

chankin1937 wrote:There are major advatages to be gained through meditation but I feel sure you would agree that it would be impractical to be in a permanent state of mental inactivity.
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby macdougdoug on Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:56 pm

why we so afraid of thoughts?

A) Because we think they bad
B) Because thoughts da master, we da slave

Is this unavoidable situation?
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby fukasetsu on Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:07 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:It's just that there are no thoughts when one does not need or want there to be thoughts.


A master of the day... a master of the night. :)
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:16 pm

Mr. Fuki,

(and a good thing it is, too, that there are only 24 hours in a day) --Joe :lol2:

fukasetsu wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:It's just that there are no thoughts when one does not need or want there to be thoughts.

A master of the day... a master of the night. :)
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby fukasetsu on Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:35 pm

Sure thing Joe, on Pluto one really needs a strong practise (unless split up in 6 naps)
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby Avisitor on Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:24 am

chankin1937 wrote:Ordinary life is misery (suffering).
It is quite commonly believed by Buddhists that birth, sickness, ageing and death - in fact all the components of ordinary life - are “suffering”. Even pleasures (because of their impermanence) are categorised as suffering. This is obviously not true, for we in the West lead tolerably comfortable lives which could not on balance be truly described as “suffering” (dukkha). If this translation is inadequate, what did the Buddha mean?

So the first noble truth becomes: Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity.
CH


I don't know what is commonly believed by Buddhists ... all components of ordinary life - are suffering??
Can't be always thinking about what others are thinking or doing
Find what is true for oneself and go from there.

In Buddha's time, the language had words which hold a different sense or meaning ... Dukkha
It can be translated to mean suffering or one can get a sense of the word by understanding its possible meaning is unsatisfactory
One can believe one has a very pleasant life and feel nothing wrong about it. That is fine.
It is when one experiences other things .. (such as the loss of a loved one)
Those other experiences are there to give one a starting point.
If one feels suffering then one may look to Buddhism for the truths. That's it.
Live a good life and have all the pleasures in the world ... fine.
It is when one feels the suffering (unsatisfactory) that one searches for something ...
The first Noble truth allows one to recognize the sign along the path

So how does one get from the first Noble truth that life is suffering to "Nirvana is the extinction of conscious mental activity"??
Life is suffering is a simple statement. If one feels it true then one continues. If one does not feel it is true then one moves on.
The "extinction of conscious mental activity" happens when one is sleeping or gets hit on the head til unconscious.
That is not Nirvana.

If one are truly interested in learning then my suggestion is to find a good teacher and learn from him/her.
Build oneself a strong foundation and the practice will bring one where one needs to go
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby chankin1937 on Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:55 pm

The first point I would like to make is that vegetables are not aware. Nor are we aware when unconcius or asleep.
When we abstain from conscious mental activity what remains is awareness of the blissful condition of our mind. What we aim for in meditation is a familiarity with this condition which implies not aiming for anything. As one master asserted, "There really isn't any thing to do." Just let your natural awareness carry you to the goal.But I'm sure you all know this.
I have attempted to understand why.
My post on the three(?) noble truths is the answer. The Buddha understood and explained the mechanism of the common human goal in one short sentence which has been translated as: Nirvana is the extinction of desire. Buddhism has since evolved into a religion and the word "desire" has frequently been misinterpreted throughout the centuries. Its true rendering is "conscious mental activity".
Hsi Yun (a Zen Master who lived about 840 A.D.) had this advice to give:
" ...To make use of the mind to think (in the ordinary sense of the
word) is to leave the substance and attach yourself to forms....
The pure mind, the source of everything, shines on with all the
brilliance of its own perfection, but the people of the world do not
awake to it, regarding only that which sees, hears, feels and knows as
mind. Because their understanding is veiled by their own sight, hearing,
feeling and knowledge, they do not understand the spiritual brilliance
of the original substance. If they could only eliminate all analytical
thinking in a flash, that original substance would manifest itself like
the sun ascending through the void and illuminating the whole universe
without hindrance or bounds....
Neither hold to them (sight, hearing, etc.), abandon them, dwell in them
nor cleave to them, but exist independently of all that is above, below
or around you...."
CH
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:07 pm

chankin1937 wrote:Nor are we aware when unconcius or asleep.


So you've never been aware of being asleep?
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Re: The first noble truth

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 05, 2015 2:37 pm

Fuka,

Indeed. Pluto's rotation period is 6.39 days. About "a week"! And, retrograde (opposite direction from Earth's spin!).

And its "year" is about two-and-a-half centuries long (we'd die before our first birthday!).

Now, how does this relate to the First of the Four Noble Truths? "Sufferations"!, I'll discipline myself to stay more on topic.

--Joe

fukasetsu wrote:Sure thing Joe, on Pluto one really needs a strong practise (unless split up in 6 naps)
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