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What are The Four Noble Truths?
Mindfulness and Wise Attention. Wise Mindfulness. Recognizing Mindfulness. Mindfulness of the Body. Mindfulness of Breathing. Thus we come to the second noble truth, the truth of the cause of suffering. Buddhists maintain that there is no external creator and that even though a buddha is the highest being, even a buddha does not have the power to create new life. So now, what is the cause of suffering? Generally, the ultimate cause is the mind; the mind that is influenced by negative thoughts such as anger, attachment, jealousy and so forth is the main cause of birth and all such other problems.
However, there is no possibility of ending the mind, of interrupting the stream of consciousness itself.
Furthermore, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the deepest level of mind; it is simply influenced by the negative thoughts. Thus, the question is whether or not we can fight and control anger, attachment and the other disturbing negative minds. If we can eradicate these, we shall be left with a pure mind that is free from the causes of suffering. This brings us to the disturbing negative minds, the delusions, which are mental factors.
Four noble truths - Oxford Reference
There are many different ways of presenting the discussion of the mind, but, in general, the mind itself is something that is mere clarity and awareness. When we speak of disturbing attitudes such as anger and attachment, we have to see how they are able to affect and pollute the mind; what, in fact, is their nature? This, then, is the discussion of the cause of suffering. If we ask how attachment and anger arise, 3 the answer is that they are undoubtedly assisted by our grasping at things to be true and inherently real.
When, for instance, we are angry with something, we feel that the object is out there, solid, true and unimputed, and that we ourselves are likewise something solid and findable. Before we get angry, the object appears ordinary, but when our mind is influenced by anger, the object looks ugly, completely repulsive, nauseating; something we want to get rid of immediately—it appears really to exist in that way: solid, independent and very unattractive. This shows how anger and attachment are influenced by our grasping at things as being true and unimputed. Thus, the texts on Middle Way [Madhyamaka] philosophy state that the root of all the disturbing negative minds is grasping at true existence; that this assists them and brings them about; that the closed-minded ignorance that grasps at things as being inherently, truly real is the basic source of all our suffering.
Based on this grasping at true existence we develop all kinds of disturbing negative minds and create a great deal of negative karma. Towards him, her and them, we feel distance and anger; then jealousy and all such competitive feelings arise. This gives rise to anger and irritation, along with harsh words and all the physical expressions of aversion and hatred. All these negative actions of body, speech and mind accumulate bad karma. The first stage is solely mental, the disturbing negative minds; in the second stage these negative minds express themselves in actions, karma.
Immediately, the atmosphere is disturbed. With anger, for example, the atmosphere becomes tense, people feel uneasy. If somebody gets furious, gentle people try to avoid that person.
Later on, the person who got angry also feels embarrassed and ashamed for having said all sorts of absurd things, whatever came into his or her mind. Later, when your mind has returned to normal, you feel ashamed. They may be difficult to control, but everybody can realize that there is nothing good about them. This, then, is the second noble truth. Now the question arises whether or not these kinds of negative mind can be eliminated. The root of all disturbing negative minds is our grasping at things as truly existent. Therefore, we have to investigate whether this grasping mind is correct or whether it is distorted and seeing things incorrectly.
We can do this by investigating how the things it perceives actually exist. However, since this mind itself is incapable of seeing whether or not it apprehends objects correctly, we have to rely on another kind of mind. If, upon investigation, we discover many other, valid ways of looking at things and that all these contradict, or negate, the way that the mind that grasps at true existence perceives its objects, we can say that this mind does not see reality. Thus, with the mind that can analyze the ultimate, we must try to determine whether the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is correct or not.
If it is correct, the analyzing mind should ultimately be able to find the grasped-at things. The great classics of the Mind Only [Cittamatra] and, especially, the Middle Way schools contain many lines of reasoning for carrying out such investigation.
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Since this mind is deceived by its object it has to be eliminated. Thus, through investigation we find no valid support for the grasping mind but do find the support of logical reasoning for the mind that realizes that the grasping mind is invalid. In spiritual battle, the mind supported by logic is always victorious over the mind that is not.
The understanding that there is no such thing as truly findable existence constitutes the deep clear nature of mind; the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is superficial and fleeting. When we eliminate the disturbing negative minds, the cause of all suffering, we eliminate the sufferings as well.
This is liberation, or the cessation of suffering: the third noble truth. Since it is possible to achieve this we must now look at the method. This brings us to the fourth noble truth. When we speak of the paths common to the three vehicles of Buddhism—Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana—we are referring to the thirty-seven factors that bring enlightenment.
Here, practitioners are motivated by the desire to achieve liberation from their own suffering. Concerned for themselves alone, they practice the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, which are related to the five paths: the four close placements of mindfulness, the four miraculous powers and the four pure abandonments which are related to the path of accumulation ; the five powers and the five forces the path of preparation ; the seven factors of enlightenment the path of seeing ; and the eightfold path the path of meditation.
In this way, they are able to completely cease the disturbing negative minds and attain individual liberation. This is the path and result of the Hinayana. The primary concern of followers of the Mahayana path is not merely their own liberation but the enlightenment of all sentient beings. With this motivation of bodhicitta—their hearts set on attaining enlightenment as the best means of helping others—these practitioners practice the six transcendent perfections and gradually progress through the ten bodhisattva levels until they have completely overcome both types of obscurations and attained the supreme enlightenment of buddhahood.
This is the path and the result of the Mahayana. The essence of the practice of the six transcendent perfections is the unification of method and wisdom so that the two enlightened bodies— rupakaya and dharmakaya —can be attained. Since they can be attained only simultaneously, their causes must be cultivated simultaneously.
Therefore, together we must build up a store of merit—as the cause of the rupakaya, the body of form—and a store of deep awareness, or insight—as the cause of the dharmakaya, the body of wisdom. In the Paramitayana, we practice method grasped by wisdom and wisdom grasped by method, but in the Vajrayana we practice method and wisdom as one in nature. See, for example, Tsering, Geshe Tashi. The Four Noble Truths. Boston: Wisdom Publications, Also: Gyatso, Lobsang.
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