Noble Truth

April 23, 2021 0 By Tenzin Gyatso

Terrible terrible terrible. We spend so much time defending ourselves and protecting our reputations. We’re not afraid to be terrible, we do it all the time, but we justify. Justify, excuse, justify. It’s absolutely terrible how we justify terrible things. We take terrible and make it good! Truth is we haven’t given ourselves the freedom to simply be terrible. This is sad. Sometimes we are not the best, and that’s okay. At this point it’s expected. We don’t need to modify our whole life to accommodate what we want to be, or what we think we should be. Changing things to enhance appearances, gives way to more of the same. 

Take for example a lie. It’s told, it must be remembered, so we don’t get caught. Then if we are close to getting caught, we have to make another lie, or half truth in order to protect the first lie. This is the same with violence. One violent act begets another, and ignorance, as we well know, justifies itself. So much of the continuation of negativities happens because we are incapable of accepting negative aspects at face value. 

This is the first Noble Truth in Buddhism. Suffering is real. This is to say that we shouldn’t deny that pain exists. It behooves us very much to recognize our pain, and discomfort. Muscular aches and pains, but especially mental aches and pains. And this is no easy feat. Matter of fact, before the Buddha taught these Four Noble Truths he had given up. He thought it was impossible. He had achieved enlightenment, and was at a loss, for there was no one to be taught. These aren’t lessons in a book, to be passed out. We’re talking about realization, which is a much different kettle of fish. Then, as he gave up and was about to go back into the jungle, he was struck with a sudden compassion. His desire to teach had vanished, and he was left with the ability to teach through being the situation. 

When we desire, the clinging drives away what we wish for. It’s a magical, impermeable, invisible barrier that blocks us. This is something that we create, and it keeps us busy. Like pining after a lover keeps us from love. Or thinking we could have a better situation, keeps us from making moves.  

Giving up carries great clout in Buddhism, and that giving up gets twisted into ego’s machinations. Speaking with the 1st Noble Truth in mind, giving up has to do with slowing down enough to experience our basic nature. We can be terrible, be it, we can be violent, be it. Don’t identify, don’t recreate, and don’t cling to the experience. If you’re terrible, feel the terrible. That can do a hell of a lot more for one’s mental health than justification. And the same goes for violence. If you’re violent be that 100%. Even if you’re racist, don’t be that in secret. Go out and be racist in the world! This isn’t about forming secret clubs in order to promote our neurosis. Vajrayana Buddhism, is about letting the world be our teacher.  

Now we can’t do this at a 50% commitment. What we are discussing is not lukewarm Buddhism. This is scalding Buddhism. There is skin in the game, and boiling water nearby. One needs a teacher. One needs a practice and one needs discipline, a disgust for samsara, and a real life. And there isn’t even anyone to enforce these rules. No god up high, or teacher on the cushion needs to enforce these things. There will of course be reminders along the way. We can take breaks, we can pause, but once we start, we had better keep going. I find it refreshing that there aren’t rules. It’s just about our relationship, self knowledge and ability to be brave and stupid.