We’ve been sharing with you here Melvin McLeod’s 10 reasons why Buddhism can be enriching to the growing number of us who consider ourselves “Spiritual but not Religious.” (Click here to read Melvin’s introduction to this series, and here to check out the other reasons.) Here now, is #3:
The problem is suffering. The answer is waking up.
Buddhism exists to address one problem: suffering. The Buddha called the truth of suffering “noble,” because recognizing our suffering is the starting place and inspiration of the spiritual path.
His second noble truth was the cause of suffering. In the West, Buddhists call this “ego.” It’s a small word that encompasses pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world. Because according to the Buddha, all suffering, large and small, starts with our false belief in a solid, separate, and continuous “I,” whose survival we devote our lives to.
It feels like we’re hopelessly caught in this bad dream of “me and them” we’ve created, but we can wake up from it. This is the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering. We do this by recognizing our ignorance, the falseness of our belief in this “I.” Finally, the Buddha told us that there is a concrete way we can get there, which basically consists of discipline, effort, meditation, and wisdom. This is the fourth noble truth, the truth of the path.
Melvin McLeod’s “10 Reasons” article is also available in its entirety now as part of a digital booklet, “Buddhism for the Spiritual but not Religious,” free to new subscribers to the Shambhala Sun. Also included are “How it Helps Me,” featuring six non-Buddhists on how Buddhism has benefited their lives; three experts on whether Buddhism is a religion or not; and easy-to-follow instructions for getting started with meditation right now.
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