We Are Responsible
I have found myself getting caught up in the political rhetoric as the 2016 presidential campaign here in America trudges on. I have also found myself getting caught up in those social media battles between one perception and another. One thing I have noticed throughout it all is this – we are only responsible for ourselves.
As a practicing Buddhist, I follow the path of kindness and compassion. At least, I try really hard. There are times, I admit, that it seems more difficult than other times. I understand that I am only human and, as such, am often struggling to keep the Four Noble Truths in my heart. It is these truths that are the core of my beliefs.
In an effort to bring my readers to an understanding of where I am on my path, I thought this would be a good time to bring this to you.
First Noble Truth – this is called dukkha – the truth of suffering. Most often, people turn their ears off with this one. Dukkha is often translated as “Life is suffering.” We understand that things do not always go smoothly and without problems. In practice, dukkha reminds us that life is temporary and impermanent. It is through suffering or experiencing that we grow.
Second Noble Truth – tanha – the truth of the cause of suffering. The literal translation is that the cause of suffering is thirst and craving. The teaching is that we, as humans, are constantly searching for happiness and meaning outside ourselves. Because of dukkha, the truth of suffering, those things for which we search are impermanent and fleeting; therefore, causing “suffering.”
Third Noble Truth – nirhoda – the truth of the end of suffering. The translation is simply the end of suffering. It has been explained that this is bringing hope for the end of craving happiness outside ourselves. Much like going to a doctor for a diagnosis. The First Noble Truth is the diagnosis, the Second Noble Truth is the cause of the diagnosis, and the Third Noble Truth brings the hope for the cure.
This brings us to the Fourth Noble Truth – magga – the truth of the path that frees us from suffering. As written in the teachings, this is the prescription or treatment. It is the final enlightenment – boddhi – that frees us from suffering. That, in my practice, is the Eightfold Path. Simply, however, it is understanding that constant practice and mindfulness is the treatment to end suffering, or as some have put it unhappiness.
These Truths are explained simplistically here, but you get the idea, right? I know that in life I will search for love, hope, and acceptance. As a human, often I search outside myself for that which makes me happy. But in the end, it is within myself that I find my true happiness. Thus, I am only responsible for myself and my actions. I cannot be responsible for other’s actions, and I cannot rely on other outside influences for my happiness.
That is all any of us can ask of ourselves. Responsibility for ourselves and knowing that we are doing the best that we can. It is a constant path we travel with pitfalls, pit holes, and boulders in the path. But through perseverance and mindfulness of our own actions, we can achieve boddhi – the end of suffering – the truth of happiness in our own selves and not in outside influences.