As you know, there is plenty of links and websites that can tell you what the First Noble Truth is and that is helpful but at the same time, it is good to see what it means to everyday ordinary people and how it translates in our to daily lives.
Our Sangha focuses on what we call Everyday Buddhism, and this comes from the teachings of our root inspiration in Gyomay and Koyo Kubose Senseis of the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness that many of our members received their lay ministry training. So we want to give you the opportunity to see others engaged with the Four Noble Truths in their everyday lives
Below, you will find personalized explanations from different members of our Online Sangha of what the Third Noble Truth of the Buddha means to them in their own words and how it informs their practice in everyday life.
by Noe Medina
I used to suffer deeply with depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and ideation. I became disillusioned with life. I just wanted the same thing everyone else wanted, I wanted to be happy, but it just seemed to evade me. I listened and believed it was something out there to be pulled into me and whenever I tasted it, I grasped hard at it, just to have it leave. I thought it could be found in romantic relationships, but found relationships eventually mature into monotony. I thought it could be found in buying things, but found the thrill was gone within moments. I thought it could be found traveling the world, but discovered everywhere I go, there I was. I’d see a beautiful sunset and would have a second of appreciation, only to let thoughts of it leaving end the joy and spoil the experience. I had resigned that this was my lot in life, and I wasn’t sure if it was a burden I wanted to carry anymore. Luckily there was something inside of me, a dogged determinism that I could figure it out and that somehow kept me going.
I wish I could say for the sake of Buddhist writing it was then I discovered the four noble truths and the rest is history, but mine was a different path there. When I finally reached what felt like emotional rock bottom, I finally resigned that I needed help, and took myself to a therapist. The two greatest gifts my therapist gave me were, 1. he introduced me to meditation 2. He introduced me to cognitive behavioral therapy. For the first time, I was experiencing that peace wasn’t a byproduct of happiness brought in from outside of you, but that peace was something that is experienced from within you. Meditation help calmed the turbulence within me, while CBT helped me realize my thoughts painted the canvas of my personal reality. Meditation created a curiosity towards eastern philosophies, which exposed me to Taoism, Yoga, and eventually Buddhism. It doesn’t take long within Buddhism to be exposed to the Four Noble Truths, (the truth of suffering). I used to wonder why the Buddha focused on suffering, but eventually it dawned on me that no one is looking for answers to the good things in life, but seek to make sense of the suffering in life. At some point, I developed the mantra, “Seek peace, not happiness.” I understood this as physical happiness by its very nature is fleeting, while peace is a state of being, and can be found even within the hardest of circumstances. And that in cultivating peace, you’ll develop joy, and in developing joy, you’ll discover happiness. To me, this is the eightfold path or the fourth noble truth. And what I discovered in focusing in on peace, is that I let go of the craving and attachment (the third noble truth). I likened it to breathing.
In breathing, we breathe in (we take in), but we also breathe out (let go). Just the same as in like life, we take in (breathe in), but we must be willing to breath out (let go). The joy in life isn’t in holding in the breathe, but in breathing in (taking in) and being willing to breathe out (let go), because the only thing we truly possess, is the present moment.
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by Matt Wright
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the suffering in the world. It can happen just by watching the news for ten minutes. War, poverty, racism, sexism, racism, and environmental destruction- these are all part of the world we live in. We all experience and witness dukkha.
I have always been sensitive to suffering, both others and my own. Throughout my childhood, I took comfort in faith. I believed in a god that could overcome evil, which I saw as the source of suffering. However, when I became an adult, I lost my belief that God really had our back. I could not understand why suffering continued and why God allowed it to go on. Well-meaning leaders tried to provide reasons why this was the case, but they were ultimately unsatisfactory.
My relationship with suffering has gone through a number of phases since then. At first, I was angry. I was angry at God, angry at society, and most of all, angry with myself. Despite my righteous indignation, I too caused suffering. I became discouraged at my inability to stop the cycle. In an attempt to escape, I turned to drugs and alcohol. However, even this did not end the pain. In the years that followed, I developed a deep cynicism. I could see little goodness in the world.
Years later when I sobered up, I experienced a shift. My sobriety came as a result of people who showed up for me despite my best attempts to resist their help. They did not want anything but my wellbeing. At first, this was hard to understand. It did not fit the narrative I had created that people are only out for themselves. It challenged my rigid belief that we live in a hostile universe and are destined to die alone.
This was my first real adult experience with the third Noble Truth. For the first time in years, I saw that there could be a solution to suffering. I realized that the story I had created about existence was incomplete. Yes, there is suffering, but there is also a solution. In part, it requires that I accept the possibility that I live in delusion. It compels me to challenge my narrative about myself, about others, and about life itself.
When I am able to do this, I experience the solace the third Noble Truth offers. Despite all of the apparent suffering in the world, there is hope. What a revelation! This does not mean that I can then rest in blissful idleness. I must take action. It begins with my own practice. In meditation, I begin to see the cracks in my narrative. I understand more deeply the patterns of craving that give rise to suffering, and I become better equipped to release my attachment to them. This changes the way I engage with the world around me. I am able to live in hope. On my better days, I can do this- other days, not so much. I keep at it though and try to offer myself some measure of compassion. This helps me give others the same consideration to come as they are. I am profoundly grateful for the third Noble Truth. It offers promise to a suffering world.