Sadi Minh Thien's Column
We will have a new column written by Ven. Ron Zimmerman each month.
This is his first installment - may we all benefit from his Dharma Teaching. Thay Kozen
For Buddha, the path to happiness starts from an understanding of the root causes of suffering (The Four Noble Truths). Those who consider Buddha a pessimist because of his concern for suffering have missed the point. In fact, through his Awakening, one might think of him as a skillful doctor. First he breaks the bad news of our suffering (The First Noble Truth), provides a diagnosis (The Second Noble Truth), provides hope for relief from the suffering (The Third Noble Truth) and finally prescribes a proactive course of treatment (The Fourth Noble Truth).
In this metaphor, the medicine is the Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion known as Dharma. We are also encouraged to seek support in a community that we know as Sangha. The suffering however, can only be cured if the patient follows the doctor's advice. This is done by following the course of treatment through understanding, practicing and growing in The Noble Eightfold Path.
In Buddhism, this treatment is not a simple medicine to be swallowed, but rather a daily practice of mindful thought and action that we ourselves can test through our own experiences. Meditation is the most well-known tool of this practice; but contrary to what some believe, it is not about detaching from the world. Rather it is a tool to train the mind not to dwell on the past or the future, but to live in the here and now, the realm in which we can experience peace and balance most readily.
The first and second verses of the Dammapada, the earliest known collection of Buddha's sayings, talk about suffering and happiness.
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows one, like a shadow that never leaves."
May All Beings Be Happy and Free