How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

What are the Four Noble Truths? In short, they represent the Buddha’s fundamental teaching that liberates humans from suffering. These four truths can be summarized as follows:

  1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle

Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we do not experience permanent satisfaction in anything but may feel an undercurrent of internal anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of existence.

  1. Craving Is The Cause Of Suffering

The cause of suffering is craving that stems from ignorance. We suffer because we tend to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the truth that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated when the world doesn’t behave the way we think it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping for others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different than it is and causes suffering.

  1. Suffering Stops When Craving Ends

Since we are ultimately the ones that cause our own suffering by perpetuating the cycle of craving and resistance, we also have the power to end our suffering. Even when life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we respond to it. By awakening to the true nature of our timeless souls, we can end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it is not the suffering that ceases, but the craving.

  1. There’s A Path Out Of Suffering

By embracing the path of right living, we can awaken to our Higher nature. This path involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal practice that supports our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Most of us struggle with the practical application of these Four Noble Truths. Our human tendency is to avoid all pain and suffering, which only perpetuates our struggle.

Instead, I suggest that we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for right living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more effectively. By presenting the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.

I propose using the acronym AREA to remember the structure of the Four Noble Truths in practical ways: Accept Life As Is, Release Reactivity, End Grasping, and Act Appropriately.

When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in appropriate ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and ultimately expand the area or scope of our True nature.

  1. Accept Life As Is

When we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; instead, we recognize it for simply being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.

The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, that makes them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of each moment.

  1. Release Reactivity

Human neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without spiritual awareness. Our senses are continuously providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in a different way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to respond to; not interference to react to, judge, resist or avoid.

When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with medication or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell us; and once we understand the deeper message, we’ll be able to respond appropriately so the messenger can be released. This process of responding instead of reacting allows us to create more inner space for growth in consciousness.

  1. End Grasping

It is essential to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties with an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. This inner attitude of non-attachment frees us from the endless cycles of attachment and aversion to offer us genuine freedom and inner peace instead. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and surrender that to which you cling.”

Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are in truth nothing other than learned behaviors and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them truly opens up space for us to thrive.

  1. Act Appropriately

In shamanic traditions, appropriate action is referred to as “right living.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, beliefs and reactions. It nurtures the development of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.

The more we fine-tune our responses to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more inner freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Creating a path of appropriate action nourishes us at all levels and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.

Using AREA can serve as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The result is more inner peace, harmony and joy.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Time Flies, Right! Letting Go Of The Struggle To Control Time

Time Flies, Right! Letting Go Of The Struggle To Control Time

For eons, people have been struggling with the concept of time. It permeates our language and influences our outlook on life. After all, time is money, time is of the essence and time flies, right!

And so, we struggle for control over time: we measure time, stretch time, lose time, kill time, and still never have enough time! It’s not surprising we feel this way. The pace of life today is far more frenetic than it was even just a generation ago.

In the struggle to control time, we’ve grown so out of touch with the natural world that it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s day or night, hot or cold, summer or winter. We control the climate at home, in the car and at the office. We create artificial environments to extend our days. We eat food with little regard for its season or source.

These artificial life choices further separate us from the rhythms and cycles of nature, desensitizing us to nature’s seasonal indicators of passing time. When we stare into the cold screens of our electronic gadgets, we disconnect from the natural world around us and forget our origins.

In the words of author Michael McCarthy, “We need constant reminding that we have only been operators of computers for a single generation… but we were farmers for 500 generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps 50,000 or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved.”

If we want inner peace, we need to learn how to coexist peacefully with the inevitable march of time instead of trying to control it. We need to synchronize with time at all levels. The sixteenth-century Chinese poet Liu Wenmin put it this way:

“To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.”

Time moves on whether we are hurtling through life or savoring it. We can – indeed we must – learn to remain still and calm amid the torrent of commitments, not allowing our overscheduled lives to rob us of the time we need to recalibrate and connect to the natural world, ourselves, and each other.

The simple act of spending time in nature is one such solution that has many healing properties. In Japan, this healing process is known as “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing. Scientific studies confirm that spending time in nature can lead to decreased stress hormone production, lower heart rate and blood pressure, elevate mood and strengthen the immune system.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to return to the same place season after season, you’d recall the private pleasure of reconnecting to a special place each time you returned: becoming aware of the height of the tide, the direction of the wind, the time of sunrise and sunset, and the phase of the moon. Having a place in nature to return to allows us to reconnect where we’d left off, much like picking up an old friendship.

Sometimes we encounter the power and beauty of the natural world in one startling moment: observing the grandeur of a rainbow after a storm, or seeing the beauty of some tiny creature up close. These are magical moments when all sense of time stops and we’re caught up in the wonder of the present moment.

To connect to nature is to reconnect to our own origins. Stepping out of our man-made schedules and obligations – even if just for a few moments – to look at the clouds, smell the air, feel the breeze on our skin, helps us reconnect to the eternal nature of creation and find peace.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

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