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I recently came across Sariputta’s elaboration on the First Noble Truth, which starts like this:
Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.
And it struck me that stating it like that, with stress in place of dhukkha, creates an interesting confluence of meanings. In a way, searching for an ending to stress makes a lot of sense. A simple way to approach this is through relaxation. If we let go of all our striving, the pent up tensions that live in our mind, then any remaining stresses are things we should try to treat with meditation.
One by one these things should fall away when you expose them to insight and to truths such as impermanence and interconnectedness. You end up deeper and deeper in relaxation, with fewer and fewer stressors on your mind, with the ease of letting go creating a kind of meditative atmosphere.
It strikes me that I have been working on this for quite a few years, going back almost to when I first started learning Buddhism. Encounters with fears, with the three poisons, with different motivations, a lot of it comes back to stress and relaxation, just learning to relax at various levels.