May 5, 2022 at 10:14 am #399529
The Four Noble Truths are the heart of all Buddhist traditions and the basis of the Buddhist framework. Much of the following is my understanding, my words: of the Four Noble Truths, the First points to the problem: suffering and dissatisfaction, the Second points to the cause: attachment and desire, the Third points to the solution: accepting everything that we experience inside our brain and body.
Radical Acceptance is a term in psychotherapy with a close connection to the Third Noble Truth. Radical Acceptance does not mean accepting harmful behavior, either from ourselves or from anyone else.
It is the practice of being aware of what we are experiencing in our minds (brains) and bodies, positive or negative, and welcoming it, embracing it, instead of resisting it, tensing up our muscles and pushing it away.
It means not shying away from sorrow or pain. It means recognizing our thoughts and feelings without negatively judging ourselves for them or feeling forced to act upon them. When noticing a thought/ feeling/ intent/ desire that we dislike, acknowledge the thought, feeling etc., compassionately (instead of judgmentally), while not indulging in a behavior that we would disapprove of. It is about honoring what we experience mentally and emotionally.
Attachment can take the form of the desire to have something, or the desire to be free of something that one has but does not want, e.g., pain and disability. You wrote: “I still have a habit of an excessive anxiety response to small issues” – according to the above, the solution to your suffering (excessive anxiety) is to stop wanting to be free of it. In other words, to radically accept it, one moment at a time, and again and again.
Radically accepting our distressful experiences will, in most cases, lessen the distress because it puts us in the natural state of flow, instead of in the unnatural state of being stuck (stuck in the distressful experience).
The Buddhist principle of no-self (annata) is helpful as well in lowering anxiety because it helps us to take ourselves and our inner experiences less seriously. Each person normally thinks of himself/ herself as a separate, solid, independent self: a separate body, male or female, of a certain age and looks with one own’s thoughts, feelings, problems, dreams and desires, etc., a special and unique entity. But reality is that the physical and mental phenomena that exist in my physical body also exist in every one of billions of people all over the world.
There is a universal sea of the rising and falling of physical and mental human experiences, and I am just a drop in that huge sea. I am not the sea; I am a drop in it. Away from the sea, a drop cannot exist (you cannot hold a drop in your hand) because it is not independent.
I do not have an identity that is separate from the sea.
I remember that I used to think, after feeling unusually calm and at peace, following gaining new insight into my childhood, that I will always feel calm, and then, when I got very anxious or depressed again, I thought that something went terribly wrong, as in… what did I do wrong, where have I failed, why did I not remain calm. It was faulty thinking based on the non-reality of a solid, separate, permanent self. All along I was a liquid drop in a liquid sea that is always in a state of change.
The Buddha taught that everything is in constant change, things coming into being and ceasing to be, nothing lasts. There is no solid, fixed nature to any experience. The way to as much peace as is possible to experience in any one time, is to radically accept this reality, repeatedly, every day.
I want to close with two of the eight guidelines of the Eightfold path laid out in the Fourth Noble Truth:
# 3 is Right Speech: refraining from pointless and harmful talk, speaking kindly and courteously to all.
#4 is Right Action: seeing to it that our deeds are peaceable, well-meaning, kind, compassionate and pure.
anitaMay 5, 2022 at 4:24 pm #399554
You have a way with words.
My destination is rather intangible. I have hope but I don’t think that far in the future. All I can do is try to approach with an open mind and learn what I can.
I like your dancing metaphor. To me, I am terrible at dancing. But this can easily be substituted with any skill. There are some things that I can happily do without thinking. Yet, some things I need to practice and repeat before anxiety will cease. Would you say the spirit of what you shared is incorporating lessons into daily life and enjoying the present?
I will try the technique you suggested!May 5, 2022 at 4:45 pm #399555
Thank you for your thoughtful post and sharing your insight! This is definitely something that I need to work on. Acceptance can be difficult for me. I am very stubborn and I believe in my ability to change things. This has lead to me attempting to change and overcome difficulties throughout my life.
But perhaps the nature of change itself means that I do not always have to try to force my way through a situation. All I have to do is wait for the anxiety to cease.
I would say that I experience something similar to what you described.
I agree, and it is as important to apply those guidelines to ourselves as well as others.
How is the cat?
May 5, 2022 at 4:48 pm #399557
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Helcat.
Today I read the parable of the jewel in the robe.
This resonates with me quite a lot.
I do not want much. Part of me wants for more but another part is content with a sliver of happiness.
Deep down I am afraid of asking for more, afraid of being free enough to be truly happy.
I feel like society is not concerned about happiness. It is concerned with how we should behave. Perhaps that is what I am concerned with too?
I guess, the truth in that text is that what we need is within us all along.
Some good news since I have been on this path, I am noticing a decrease in habitual suicidal ideation.
May 5, 2022 at 7:05 pm #399559
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Helcat.
You are very welcome. “Acceptance can be difficult for me. I am very stubborn, and I believe in my ability to change things” – this brings to my mind the Serenity Prayer: “god, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
“How is the cat?” – hopeful news: a friend will bring his 11-year-old daughter to the apartment this Saturday, she wants a cat, and if the two get along (I hope she manages to coax the cat out of her hiding spot), she’ll take the cat home.
anitaMay 6, 2022 at 6:49 am #399571PeterParticipant
I guess, the truth in that text is that what we need is within us all along.
Reminded me of Paulo Coelho story the Alchemist and T.S. Eliot’s “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time.” Ones treasure was always within, just not noticed.
We work to get to a place where we might notice the jewel that was always present as we journey, our work does not create it, it was always ours. (that might not be the intended teaching of the parable but that’s the beauty of parables)
Thanks for sharingMay 6, 2022 at 4:20 pm #399681
It is good to hear that the cat will have a new home!
What an apt quote Peter.
Still reading the lotus sutra! A king sought enlightenment, he abdicated his throne and committed to be the slave of someone who would help him achieve it.
In this way, he gave up his desires and attachments by tending to the wise sage, his new master for many years. Who in turn taught him the lotus sutra and with it the former King gained enlightenment, becoming a Buddha.
The sutra described his many duties as a slave and it made some sense to me. As well as learning and teaching the sutra, being present without attachment was important. Teaching was described as a condition for enlightenment. As a tutor, this was intriguing to me. There is a level of focus with teaching that means you must let go of thoughts of anxiety. Though, I believe in regards to the lotus sutra it has more to do with helping others navigate the path of enlightenment.
May 7, 2022 at 2:27 am #399686
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Helcat.
Thank you for your quote as well Anita. I often use that prayer when I am having difficulty accepting things. Perhaps I should practice it more often!
Today, the lotus sutra shared a tale of a bodhisattva. He burned his arms in prayer giving up his attachment to them as a commitment to achieve enlightenment. His followers were upset by this and he comforted them sharing his reasoning and adding if his commitment is true his arms will be restored, thusly they were restored.
The sutra details that giving of ourselves is a far greater gift than any land or commodity.
I am not fond of affirmations but I have written one to practice. I give myself permission to be happy. I shall also practice the serenity prayer regularly and see where this takes me.May 7, 2022 at 8:49 am #399687
Dear Helcat/ Everyone:
Looking for the tale you mentioned I came across an incredible online resource I didn’t know about- wisdom library. org. It offers summaries of many books on Buddhism. One book summarized is titled, A Brief Outline of Buddhism. Here are two quotes: “The Buddha was endowed with Divine eye and Divine ear… He is devoid of greed, hate and ignorance; He is the All enlightened… He preached the first sermon which was on the middle Path which lies between the two extremes… The Middle Path… is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, Right Belief, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action… Right Belief is the realization of the Four Noble Truths, namely, “this is pain, this is the cause of pain; this is the cessation of pain, and this is the way that leads to cessation of pain…
“The great importance of the Middle Path or rather the Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism cannot be over emphasised. It is so important that it is often called ‘The Message of Buddhism‘ in spite of the fact that The Buddhas Messages are, as mentioned previously, in thirty-one books. Really it is the ‘MESSAGE of BUDDHISM'”.
Helcat, you wrote: ” I am not fond of affirmations but… give myself permission to be happy. I shall also practice the serenity prayer regularly and see where it takes me” – the teaching of the Middle Path is, considered to be the first lesson the Buddha taught after awakening, is about a path of moderation, which in regard to your quest, would mean (I am thinking) not wanting too much to accept what you can’t change (the serenity prayer), and not wanting happiness (your affirmation) too much. In regard to happiness, the Middle Path would be about avoiding attachment to the idea of being happy, on one hand, and avoiding aversion to the idea of being unhappy, on the other hand, while practicing the Eightfold Path… in moderation.
anitaMay 9, 2022 at 4:16 pm #399834
@Anita Hi Everyone!
I needed a break because things have been stressful lately, but I’m ready to crack on again now!
Thank you for the link! I will be sure to check out the book.
You make some good points, I will keep this in mind.
Almost every book I have read about Buddhism has mentioned the middle path. I think it’s a favourite.
The Lotus Sutra is finished. The next book I am reading is called Four Illusions. In keeping with our discussion, this book is about the middle path and contains advice for those who wish to travel the path.
Four basic illusions are discussed. Believing that impermanent things are permanent, believing that pain is pleasurable, believing that which is impure is pure and believing in self. People who falsely believe in these things suffer. Buddhist teachings ease suffering and frees the mind.
When impermanence is viewed as impermanence, pain is perceived as pain, the self as selfless and impurity as impure suffering can be overcome.May 9, 2022 at 4:54 pm #399839
First, good news (!!!) the 11-year-old girl and Simon the cat met last Friday, three days ago, earlier than expected, and it was an instant love story, the two instantly liked each other and are now together!
I am looking forward to reading about your understanding of the Four Illusions.
By the way, the Buddhist term anatta means no-self; anatta sounds close to my (real) name (anita). I like the resemblance!
anattaMay 10, 2022 at 11:41 am #399879
It’s wonderful to hear that the cat has found a new home! I’m sure they will have a happy life together.
That is charming and surely good karma.
Today from the Four Illusions.
Prince Candraprabha asked how to attain Buddha’s knowledge. Two main strategies outlined were, meditation and tolerance.
On tolerance, there are two main themes. Tolerance towards other people and tolerance towards ideas.
Yesterday, I forgot to add the book outlined that whilst recognizing the four illusions is still painful, it is considered impossible to gain enlightenment.
It goes on to describe tolerance towards different ideas such as the empty or illusionary nature of all things. By being receptive to these ideas it is possible to overcome attachment to anger, desire and delusion.
This reminds me of teachings by Tsokyni Rinpoche who described the nature of understanding emotions and thoughts. He suggested that an initial feeling is natural but any thoughts that follow are created by the mind and illusionary.
I read somewhere, (potentially the Buddha’s teachings) that perspective is what drives how we respond to things.
I have noticed that whilst I’m in distressing emotional states, not much good comes from the thoughts created. It is more useful to watch and not act on these them, unless needed.May 10, 2022 at 12:57 pm #399883
“Tolerance towards other people and tolerance towards ideas” – connecting this to the Four Noble Truths, lessening my attachment to how I think other people should look like, sound like, act like, etc., will increase my tolerance of other people. Lessening my attachment to ideas, will allow and encourage me to look at issues from different angles, to consider different and new ideas, and in so doing, gain a better, truer understanding of people and issues.
“I have noticed that whilst I’m in distressing emotional states, not much good comes from the thoughts created. It is more useful to watch and not act on these them, unless needed” – well articulated, if I may say so. There is a saying in regard to anger which can be extended to any distressing emotional state: when my anger goes up, my IQ goes down.
I hope that other members participate in your thread, Helcat. It’s been slow in the forums. Do you think that it may encourage other members to post in your thread if I take a break from it for some time, so that it doesn’t look primarily like a two people conversation?
anitaMay 10, 2022 at 2:34 pm #399888
Yes, there was a focus on tolerance to how others behave. Say if someone was critical and that triggered uncomfortable feelings. I don’t imagine the focus would be on accepting bad behaviour, but I would imagine being in control of how we choose to respond to it or how much things bother us. For example, someone cuts you off in traffic. Are you angry about it or not? Perhaps someone who gets angry about it would practice dealing with those emotions in a healthy way?
Yes, this reminds me of something I read. I don’t believe that I have shared it yet as it was from a book before starting this thread. I’m afraid I don’t remember which.
A tourist that visits Paris doesn’t know Paris. A person who has lived in Paris for many years doesn’t know Paris.
My understanding of this is their perspective of Paris linked to their lifestyle. Perhaps a true representation of Paris are the combined experiences of every individual in Paris?
I welcome you and anyone else to participate in this thread if desired. I believe Peter may drop by at some point. Not to worry though, I will continue to address the daily post to everyone to encourage people to participate if they wish. Please do not worry or feel put off about others interacting.
I have actually been practicing what you suggested. Meditating while stressed. It is a very different experience for me compared to meditating when relaxed. It has been helpful for being more aware of how my thoughts and emotions impact me. As well as lessening my desire to act on any impulses. Perhaps I am getting more comfortable with sitting with the feelings?
In contrast, when I meditate while relaxed, my thoughts start shutting down, a pleasant feeling sometimes occurs and I often find myself falling asleep.May 12, 2022 at 4:14 pm #399994
A friend recently said goodbye. I thank my friend for their lessons and wish them good luck on their journey.
This reminds me that Buddhism has a concept that we are made up of all of the people we interact with.
It reminded me of when I was a child with my first therapist. I told them I can hear my biological mother in my head. The therapist told me that is just a recording of your experiences with her.
Now I wonder if that is true. I have had my own thoughts over the years and seen how people are linked and shape each other.
It was unique reading in a book what I knew to be true as a child. Initially, it was upsetting. The idea that someone who abused you can form a part of you. But that is only one small part, there is still everyone else.
It is comforting to know that all of the people I have cared about in my life, even if they come and go are still with me in a way.