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Thread: Understanding the four noble truths.

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    Forums Member Rosamundi's Avatar
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    Understanding the four noble truths.

    In feeling compassion for those that are suffering, I don't actually stop their suffering, do I?

    I am finding it difficult to separate and understand these thoughts - feeling compassion for those that are suffering (for example, war), and the fact that I cannot actually do anything about it. Part of the teachings seem to imply that there will always be suffering, however the attainment of nirvana by (for example) me, is not going to result in an end to the actual suffering of others. (ie, war is still going to go on, with or without me). So, in seeking to end 'my' suffering, am I not being utterly selfish in attempting to distance myself from the suffering of others?

    This is coming from some discussions that I have had whereby I have attempted to be compassionate and then been criticized for failing to actually do anything about it.

    I am not sure I have explained it very well, but I am interested in anyone's initial thoughts.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Rosamundi
    So, in seeking to end 'my' suffering, am I not being utterly selfish in attempting to distance myself from the suffering of others?
    I don't think its selfish to seek an end to your own suffering, because if you develop a kind, calm and focused mind you are likely to be able to benefit others in different ways, as well as yourself. However, I think compassion needs the addition of wisdom, because otherwise we might jump in a river planning to "save" other sentient beings - and end up drowning ourselves!




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    Forums Member Rosamundi's Avatar
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    Yes, Aloka, good thoughts, thankyou. I think part of it is guilt that I am going to be 'not suffering', yet I cannot do anything about others. I mean, obviously, I can help people in distress, but I cannot do anything globally! I have spent a long time meditating on compassion, however, I have only just started to bring wisdom to my particular cushion. Perhaps I should more enthusiastically think about the wisdom side of things.

  4. #4
    Hi Rosamundi,

    I think it was Shantideva who said something like:

    "Where would I possibly find enough leather
    With which to cover the surface of the earth?
    But wearing leather just on the soles of my shoes
    Is equivalent to covering the earth with it."


    This article by Ajahn Sumedho might be helpful: "The Path of Wisdom"

    https://buddhismnow.com/2015/03/17/t...ajahn-sumedho/



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    Forums Member Rosamundi's Avatar
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    Thank you, that is a very good article.

    I fully understand the point about desire. I desire that the world is not at war. However, I cannot have that desire, and I will detach myself from it.

    Doesn't that put me in the position of literally doing nothing about it? It's not okay to do nothing about it. If we all did nothing about things that are wrong, the world would be a terrible place.

  6. #6
    t's not okay to do nothing about it. If we all did nothing about things that are wrong, the world would be a terrible place.
    Unfortunately there are already terrible places in the world - and what's happening globally depends on politics and governments, so there's not a lot the ordinary person can do about it other than vote for political parties, sign petitions, go on peaceful demonstrations, work for, or donate to charity organisations trying to help in different countries and so on .

    Anyway, I don't want to start getting into discussions about politics, there's enough of it raging around the internet and the media at the moment and this isn't a politics website.



    PS. As the title of this topic is "Understanding the Four Noble Truths" I highly recommend this little booklet about The Four Noble Truths by Ajahn Sumedho:

    https://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-boo...-noble-truths/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosamundi View Post
    Thank you, that is a very good article.

    I fully understand the point about desire. I desire that the world is not at war. However, I cannot have that desire, and I will detach myself from it.

    Doesn't that put me in the position of literally doing nothing about it? It's not okay to do nothing about it. If we all did nothing about things that are wrong, the world would be a terrible place.
    On the other hand, if you do not take part in war there is one less person making war, which is a positive thing. Every day is a better day for your non-action. On the other other hand, engaged Buddhism can be good too.

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    Forums Member Rosamundi's Avatar
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    Oh dear. I'm finding it hard to express myself. I do understand this is not a politics website. I only chose the wars as an example. I feel that Buddhism teaches "the world is a terrible place - move on and don't think about it". Have I understood that correctly? I feel I must have misunderstood it.

  9. #9
    I feel that Buddhism teaches "the world is a terrible place - move on and don't think about it". Have I understood that correctly? I feel I must have misunderstood it.
    I think you might be getting a little confused, Rosamundi. Don't worry though, have a look at the booklet I mentioned in #6.

    I have to log off now to have my evening meal.


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    Forums Member Rosamundi's Avatar
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    Thank you, I shall read and re-read the notes and books you have suggested.

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