Have you ever wondered about suffering? We all encounter it inevitably, since our lives end with old age, sickness and death, but prior to that we have quite a few good years. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, and it seems to me that most people’s lives are pretty balanced when it comes to pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. If you know, really know, how to let go, if you have some virtue, you can come through life in good order.
Now this is a pretty strong statement, giving a different perspective on the core teachings of the noble truths and the eightfold path. I’ve thought about it, and I wonder about the testability of the path as a teaching — the Buddha says ‘test my teachings, as a goldsmith assesses gold he intends to buy at the market’. Many of the teachings we can verify, they are within our own personal experience, but I’ve never had the sense of the path as something I could tell anything about.
Buddhism has done me a lot of good over the last few years, there have been quite a few memorable moments. But I don’t feel confident trying to make the teaching of the path into something that works for me.
What are your perspectives on the eightfold path?
With warm greetings and Heretically yours
I think a part of the path is just to be kind and avoid giving grief to yourself and others. So I think you are saying we have a mixture of suffering and enjoyment or well being. Like you can have arthritis in the background but at the same time music and tea. We are all vulnerable physically and emotionally.
~ Chamtrul Rinpoche
Yes that is right. I saw a video the other day of a 97-year-old man who needed help with getting dressed and with preparing breakfast, and who could do very little during the day except listen to music and draw, and yet he got enough satisfaction from life in order to keep going.