This Thursday, we will read on in “The Feeling Buddha”. I thought the last chapter we read called “Noble and True” made some very important comments on the first noble truth:
· To suffer the suffering which is inherent in our being, without resort to a strategy of undignified flight, whether by worldly or supposedly spiritual means, is real nobility.
· When we look deeply into ourselves, we are likely to find that, at some deep level, we are ashamed of our infirmities. In the media we are constantly assailed by images of health and beauty. Insofar as we are not like that, we feel ashamed.
· Dukkha might be translated as “imperfection”. The Buddha is saying that there is no shame in being imperfect.
· Ideally we would not die, would not grow old. . . . This is the vision of heaven, and religions are as apt to trade on it as are the advertising agents of consumerism. Our lives do not conform to this heavenly picture so we feel a corresponding shame. Then we either spend huge amounts of money hiding the fact that we are not perfect specimens and distracting ourselves from the unpleasant aspects of our lives, or we wear ourselves out in supposedly spiritual procedures that enable us to believe that we are, or are on the way to becoming, members of the chosen few who will live in heaven. We put on a front for the world and cover up our infirmities because we are ashamed.
· The Buddha, however, taught that it is better to live in the human world than in heaven. Buddhism is not a quest for heaven.
· The Buddha’s teaching starts with an assault upon the shame we feel about our suffering. He says that Dukkha – imperfection, suffering – is real and we do not need to be ashamed of it. In fact, facing inevitable affliction is noble.
· The salvation of humankind will be found in the practice of a noble response to existential reality. That is enlightenment.
With that discussion, I think this book breaks out into being something very special.
I have to miss this week, but I have the book and will read the chapter.
We will read and discuss, "From Drama to No Drama." This is the first chapter of the last section that is called "Nothing Special," which is also the name of the book.
"Despite what we may say, we all like our personal dramas very much. The reason? No matter what our particular drams, we are always at the center of it -- which is where we want to be."
Hope you can make it,