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My Take on The Four Noble Truths

I don't do organized religion, but I do like a lot of aspects of Secular Buddhism. My feelings on the entire subject are way too long for one post, but I'd like to start with my take on the Four Noble Truths.


Groundwork: Buddha means "enlightened one." It is a title, not a name. The man most people refer to as the Buddha was named Siddhartha Gautama at his birth. He was born as a prince around 567BCE in the Himalayan foothills. He was not (and never claimed to be) a god, he was a man who observed, thought, and meditated a lot. Based on his observations he came to 4 conclusions that he based his belief structure on. These 4 conclusions are known as the Four Noble Truths.


My paraphrasing of the Four Noble Truths:

  1. Life has suffering

  2. One's suffering in life is caused by one's attachments

  3. By detaching, one can end their suffering

  4. Following the eightfold path will teach one to detach.

I've thought about it a lot and I believe all of these statements are true. I believe that they are true for everyone. However, I do not believe that these are the complete truth for me.


My goal in life is not to end my suffering.


My goal is to suffer with intention.


Let me be very clear about the MY in the words My Goal. This is what I think best fits me and my personality. I think there are other personalities out there that would be best served by rising above the concerns of the tethered and accomplishing enlightenment. It may also be that I am just too attached to my attachment and am not yet ready to follow the eightfold path fully, but as I presently am, I do not believe that.


I use my knowledge of the four noble truths and tailor it to myself.

  1. My life has suffering

  2. My suffering is caused by my attachments

  3. By consciously choosing my attachments, I can suffer with intention

  4. Studying the eightfold path can help me grow and make better choices about what to attach to.

My efforts to include the ways of Secular Buddhism in my life do not stand alone. They are used in conjunction with all of the other things that I've chosen to make a part of my structure.


When thing X bothers me I'll look at my attachment to X. I'll ask myself why I'm attached to it and if I still should be. I'll also look at what else X has brought into my life. I'll serenity prayer it to see if I feel I have any control over why thing X is thing X as I have known it. I'll use any new ways of thinking that have come to me since I last considered X to reconsider it and my reactions to it.


The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are an important parts of my foundations, but they are not the entire thing and I hope this post help explains a bit more of how I include them in my life.

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