The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation

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Includes bibliographical references and index. Four Noble Truths.

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Lief, Judith L. The Power of Flickering Thoughts 33 4. The Development of Set Patterns 39 5. Awakening and Blossoming 63 7. Meditation as the Path to Buddhahood 69 8. Transcending Samsara and Nirvana The Doubtless Path 91 He takes these seemingly simple teachings and systematically uncovers many layers of subtlety and sophistication. His presentation skillfully weaves together a scholarly exposition of the material with a fresh and up-to-date interpretation geared toward the contemporary dharma practitioner.

As is typical of his teaching, he repeatedly connects the material he is discussing with the meditative and contemplative practices that bring such teachings to life. Like many other Tibetans, he fled his country after the Communist takeover and entered India as a refugee. Trungpa Rinpoche was one of the first Tibetan lamas to arrive in the United States and Canada, and he became a pivotal figure in introducing Tibetan Buddhism to Western students. He did not fall back on familiar pedagogical approaches more suited for Tibetan monastics, nor did he present the dharma in the dry language of the academy.

Instead he brought the teachings to life, speaking directly with no exoticism or cultural trappings—and in English! This was a radical and controversial approach. Trungpa Rinpoche had an uncanny ability to communicate in a way that each student thought he was talking directly to him or her alone.

Alan Watts: Buddhism Summed Up In 4 Noble Truths

Although he taught in the West for only seventeen years from to , his influence has been immense and continues to unfold. The four noble truths are central to the Buddhist tradition. In later teachings the Buddha touched on the four noble truths repeatedly, expanding upon and further elucidating his original presentation. Although we might prefer to muse about happiness and how we can get more of it, it is our blind stumbling after happiness that has entrapped us in the first place.

For the practitioner, the starting point is taking a cold, hard look at our situation, honestly and dispassionately.

Reward Yourself

It is essential to break our long-standing habit of avoidance and wishful thinking. Trungpa Rinpoche discusses this truth in terms of subtle shifts of thought turning into fixations, then into emotions such as jealousy or hatred, and finally into actions. The value of meditation practice is that the practitioner learns to notice this pattern at an early stage, and is thus able to catch these subtle shifts of thought before they escalate into harmful actions with their inevitable repercussions.

One could say that the first two truths are a reality check, allowing us to begin on solid footing. The reason it is possible for us to look at our experience in such a way is that we begin to develop a sense of contrast in the form of the third noble truth, the truth of cessation. Without glimpsing the possibility of cessation, it would be very difficult to stick with the practice. We all experience signs of awakening and transformation, if only briefly, or from time to time.

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According to Trungpa Rinpoche, while we should not seek out such signs of progress, it is important to appreciate such experiences and use them to develop greater confidence and trust in ourselves and in the dharma. Having been given a hint of what is possible, we are inspired to do what it takes to get there. Thus, the fourth noble truth is the truth of the path.

From the time of the Buddha, many. At the same time, each student must forge his or her own way. Realization is inherent within the path itself.


In following the path, confusion is overcome and wisdom dawns as surely and naturally as the sun rises in the east. Trungpa Rinpoche developed the Seminary format to give his senior students a detailed map of the Buddhist path and to steep them in meditation practice. Intensive group meditation practice created the proper container for such teachings to take root, not as abstract theory, but in the form of practical guidelines for the meditation practitioner. However, according to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the hinayana provides the foundation for the entire path.

In the three-yana journey, each yana, or vehicle, is rooted in an understanding of the previous one. So the hinayana is not left behind as a student progresses to the mahayana and vajrayana, but it continues. The yanas are like a series of concentric circles, with each larger circle fully encompassing what came before.

The three yanas build upon one another, continually strengthening, expanding upon, and enriching. Preface xi each other. The four noble truths are the foundation of the hinayana, and of the entire Buddhist path. Traditional presentations of the four noble truths, as well as other central Buddhist teachings, are filled with lists, terms, and detailed outlines, which can make for dry reading. At the same time, such outlines can serve as invaluable references and study aids.

In his presentation of the four noble truths, Trungpa Rinpoche provides a link between such traditional presentations of the teachings and our own experience of the path. He introduces the possibility of uncovering progressively subtler insights into the nature of mind and experience and gives us the tools to be able to communicate those insights to others. Like many Tibetan teachers, Trungpa Rinpoche carried with him a compact edition of this monumental work and consulted it again and again. The teachings of the four noble truths are both ancient and upto-date.

The Fourth Noble Truth

They have been handed down from teacher to student for centuries, yet they apply to our own immediate experience. The teachings of the four noble truths are grounded in our ordinary experiences as human beings.

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It is by relating with these experiences, rather than by escaping them, that we can. The radical message of the Buddha is that the potential for freedom is always at hand, and it is up to us—no one else—what we do with that. Countless people have been involved in the recording, transcribing, preserving, editing, and production of these precious teachings. These dedicated students worked anonymously, steadily, and humbly at the many other tasks, essential to this work, purely out of their own inspiration and devotion.

Thank you to Ben Moore, director of Vajradhatu Publications, for his enthusiastic support. Many thanks to John Rockwell for providing valuable feedback and, in particular, for his informal translations of key sections of The Treasury of Knowledge.

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Many thanks to Eden Steinberg of Shambhala Publications for her insightful feedback. Lady Diana Mukpo graciously gave her blessing and encouragement to this project. Samuel Bercholz, founder of Shambhala Publications, has been a consistent catalyst in moving the root-text project forward. Endeavors such as this one require the generous support of donors. We are grateful for the support of the Shambhala Trust.

May the teachings and practices he so carefully introduced be studied, practiced, realized, and carried forth for future generations. May we cultivate wisdom, compassion, and the skill to manifest them in action. It was there that he first presented the noble eightfold path and the four noble truths. This is referred to as the first turning of the wheel of dharma. I call these the Four Noble Truths. Because of ignorance, people cannot see the truth about life, and they become caught in the flames of desire, anger, jealousy, grief, worry, fear, and despair.

Understanding the truth of life brings about the cessation of every grief and sorrow and gives rise to peace and joy. The Noble Eightfold Path is nourished by living mindfully. Mindfulness leads to concentration and understanding which liberates you from every pain and sorrow and leads to peace and joy. Eastern Body, Western Mind. Anodea Judith. The Power of Myth. His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.

Susan Piver. The Way of Zen. Deepak Chopra. Real Happiness. Life, Death and After Death. Living a Peaceful Life. Robert Puff.