Buddhist Belief — Craving Equals Suffering
“The true meaning of the precepts is not just that one should refrain from drinking alcohol, but also from getting drunk on nirvana.”
We ended the last article by pointing out the three aspects of the Second Noble Truth of Buddhist Belief . Remember, they were first, our craving for pleasurable experiences, our desires, getting what we want. The second aspect was the aggressive need to get rid of the things we don’t want. We’re either experiencing excessive desires or anger and aggression as a result of these two aspects. The third aspect of the Second Noble Truth is our need to be something other than what we are. It’s chasing after the desires of the ego part of us.
The important thing to keep in mind from the last article is that no matter what we get of the things we want — no matter what unpleasant things in our life we manage to rid ourselves of — no matter what we achieve — no matter how much money we make — none of this is going to last forever. The reason why all this leads to the dissatisfaction of the First Noble Truth, is deep down, in the places in our mind where true wisdom resides, we know this to be true. Lasting satisfaction will never happen. Our resistance to this knowledge is what brings about the suffering described in the First Noble Truth.
You could think of our craving as a thirst for pleasure. The more you drink, the thirstier you become. We thirst to be rid of pain. We thirst to become something or someone else. It’s like drinking salt water — our thirst is never quenched.
The way the Buddha analyzed the cause of suffering, is that the cause — the Second Truth — and the end of the cause — the Third Truth — in addition to the path to end suffering — the Fourth Truth — will lead us to see this is where the cord to suffering gets cut. If we look at what we cling to, what we crave, what we demand, what we identify with, and how all those attachments are truly not working for us, we get a glimpse of what we are really getting. The question to ask is, “Are we getting what we expected?”
I know that for me, one of the most difficult hurdles I had to cross with applying the Buddhist Belief to my life, was how traumatic it was to accept how conditioned and addicted I was. Once I paid attention to the fact that I was rarely at ease, always seeking something either through shopping, or chasing after things, or through consumption and irrational desires, I came to an understanding that I wasn’t truly happy or content. I was generally dissatisfied. I always wanted more, but I didn’t know why.
I realized eventually, that this is how I was conditioned to act. From the time I was a small child I was conditioned to always get more — do more. I had my first job when I was eight years old– and it wasn’t a newspaper route — it was setting pins in a bowling alley. Once I reached my teens and twenties I had to keep achieving. There was a drive to succeed — to be the best. I had to get the best grades in college. I had to rise up the “ladder of success” in my working life. I had a gnawing need to have the best — to look the best — to be the best — to associate with the best.
I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Yeah. So, what’s wrong with that?” Am I right?
Folks, I was on a treadmill that was leading nowhere. The more material goods I accumulated — the higher I rose in the commercial banking ranks with my employment — the more money I made — the less satisfied and healthy I was. I was like a gerbil on a wheel. The more driven I was, the more the need to keep driving grew within me.
A few years ago I discovered I was applying the same kind of drive to following a path of Buddhist Belief. I was striving to be something or someone else to the point of little or no success. There was still desire and craving there. And, whenever there is desire and craving there will be a lot of suffering. I kept wondering when this inner peace I was supposed to be feeling would show up. Oh, I had wonderful moments of beautiful peace during many of my meditations, but, overall, in my day-to-day life, I was still dissatisfied and striving for more.
Then, in one of the many books I’ve read about Buddhist Belief, I read that Buddha taught that inner peace was always available within our natural being, within our spiritual ground, within our Buddha-nature. It’s not that I hadn’t read these same teachings in previous books, but, for some unknown reason, this time I got the picture. It was liberating and exhilarating. I was just changing my previous desires over to a new set of desires to become more Buddha-like. This was just more craving for something different. I was working so hard to become what I already was.
Once I began to rest in the truth of the wisdom within — once I began to see through the constant craving, clinging, wanting, and not wanting, I could begin to understand that these were the aspects of my life that were causing me to be so restless and dissatisfied. I began to see that this was not only hurting me, it was also the reason why there is so much suffering in the world.
The lesson here is that there is a reason why we call it “inner peace”. It is called “inner peace’ because it is always within us.
Okay. That’s enough for this time. We’ll pick this up again in our next post when we continue our discussion of the Second Noble Truth and Buddhist Belief.
I’ve been showing you a series of short 10-minute videos produced by the BBC called “The Life of Buddha.” Last time was Part Four. This time we’ll show you the last part, Part Five. I hope you enjoy it. If, for some reason, the video doesn’t play when you press the play button, here’s a link to take you directly to it :
Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Have a peaceful day!! —