I am deeply immersed in Buddhism at the moment, working on a writing project. I find the concepts and philosophy of Buddhism to be both very calming, and frustrating, at times. One moment I am gratified with some understanding, and at another moment completely frustrated by my seeming inability to understand. At times, it feels as if there is an ebb and a flow to “getting it” or not. This will then amuse me as I ponder it all.
Enlightenment, in any form whether tiny or mind-blowing, is either as close as flipping a switch, or as far away as trying to fill a sieve with water. It is said you cannot think your way to enlightenment, you have to experience it. One moment it will simply happen. But, only after you have let go of every concept you have ever had of your self, or your perception of the way things are.
What I am thinking or feeling about most things is always changing in some way or another, particularly as I learn more. What I know about anything is simply a pattern, a paradigm. And, patterns can always be shifted. The Four Noble Truths are considered the central concepts of Buddhism, and teach us that shifting from suffering to peace is possible. Every day, every experience, every moment is an opportunity for us to “flip the switch” and experience peace.
I have found the following description of the Four Noble Truths by Sylvia Boorstein to be useful:
- Life is continually challenging because circumstances keep changing.
- Suffering is the inability of the mind to accommodate these changing circumstances.
- Peace is possible.
- It is possible to systematically cultivate, through lifestyle practices and mental training exercises, a mind that accommodates changing circumstances wisely, avoids confusion, and does not suffer.