This is a series of articles based on studies in Buddhism with a particular focus on the teachings of Professor Robert A.F. Thurman. Dr. Thurman is well-known in the Buddhist and academic world of religious studies. He is recognized as one of the foremost authority on “religion and spirituality, Asian history, world philosophy, Buddhist science, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
The author of this articles series has spent considerable time studying Buddhism; especially as taught by Dr. Thurman and Thich Nhat Hanh. Our goal here is to share as much of those lessons learned as are practical in the one-way communications of an article. Additionally, this author will take advantage of the availability of YouTube videos presenting Buddhist teachings and related lectures by Dr. Thurman.
Before we start, keep in mind that this is not a starter-course in Buddhism. Although, a significant amount of “the fundamentals” will be presented in these pages, it is necessary in order to relate those teachings to the grander scale of Buddhist teachings. The series has no end, no limit in quantity, no part one of ten; this is a long term project to aid the studies of other Buddhists, academics, and the purely curious to the teachings and application of Buddhism in day to day life.
Food for Thought: Buddha (Shakymune) was the fourth and last Buddha. The next or future Buddha will be the one known as Matraa a Buddha approximately 15,000 to 100,000 years after the last (Shakymune) buddha or as another version of the story 300 years from now at Shangri La. There are Buddha’s everywhere and different worlds, but there are some worlds without the Buddha.
Dr. Robert Thurman
A View of the Four Noble Truths in Medical Terms
Students and followers of Buddhism will find the four fundamental truths referred to as the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS. Though the common translation from Pali (an ancient Indo-European language derived from Sanskrit and formerly spoken in South Asia, surviving in Hinayana Buddhist scriptures) to English results in the word Truths, as Robert A. F. Thurman says, the word fact or reality are more appropriate since the word Truth has its own dogma and interpretation. Called “Noble” because noble to the Buddha meant someone not selfish, self-centered or sell focused. The average person is considered to be not-noble because the nature of the average person is to be rigid and self-serving.
The First Noble Truth is life involves suffering, or living incurs suffering and clinging. The unenlightened person suffers. Un-enlightenment doesn't mean that ALL life is suffering or that life MUST be suffering. It means that life includes suffering as a result of clinging and craving. Thurman describes this constitutes Symptoms from a medical point of view.
The Second Noble Truth is the origination of suffering. This is usually a matter of misperception or miss knowledge or failure to recognize craving and clinging for what they are and is most often referred to as ignorance. Thurman's medical comparison for the Second Noble Truth is Diagnosis.
The Third Noble Truth is to recognize that suffering is a result miss-knowledge or ignorance. Therefore, you must be able to imagine it (cause), recognize it, and imagine the freedom or release from it (cause of suffering). This compares to the medical Prognosis. The prognosis is that we recognize there's a problem we understand what it is and we understand that we can remove it.
The Fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is the cure, the remedy, the means to resolve the illness. In medical terms, this is the Course of Treatment. More on this in the next article in this series.
Buddhism In A Nutshell
According to Dr. Robert A. F. Thurman in his writings on Buddhism, he states that “the Buddha said nothing more earth shattering ban, if you are yourself, the only real thing that you know, and it's really only up to you about yourself, and everything else and everyone else in the universe is against you and it's a struggle, who do you think is going to win and who is going to lose? We know that we are going to lose. It's me against the world and the world against me.”Credit: Pixabay Images
Lose the “I” this is not a Team Effort
The Buddha is saying the look for your soul yourself once you find that there is no permanent independent soul you'll be released from this idea. We tend to think we're special and or unique and that everyone else is different from us (the “I” or me). Think about how many time a day or a week, cumulated over years that you respond, complain, take the actions and words of other as an affront or attack against you.
How many times have you driven a car and someone cuts you off or honks their horn at you? Have you ever seen someone get something or have something that you believe you should have BUT you know it will never be? Does a negative feeling rise inside you? Do you react negatively? You are clinging, craving, desiring, places yourself against the world as if you are in completion with the world – you will lose in the long run. And even if you get what you crave – it is transitory, illusive, limited in life, you can’t take it with you when you die.
Your next life doesn’t begin with everything you had when you died in your previous life. It’s all temporary, except for Karma. Thurman tells us that no-self means no alternate-self, as in no permanent unchanging soul. But there is a relative self, a selfless soul. You as we all are drops of water have a greater vast endless body of water not the individuals.
Once you find Nirvana and the mind tries to look at it - it's not there. But all the worlds and universes are there; transparent yet interlaced, the idea of self is gone and all is one. Thus, nirvana can be here and now.
Nirvana Defined by Thurman
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Nirvana, Samsara is empty and freedom from suffering is empty suffering is empty suffering is empty. From empty he doesn't mean not existent. He means devoid of an extended separated essence that would be self-constituted based on an understanding of the true into relational existence of everything. This also goes into this teaching of non-duality where once nirvana turns out to be empty as well as Samsara, the picture that a person has about achieving freedom is a picture of being totally gassed out forever is connected to everything is critiqued and there is no way of staying in touch with such ease states and therefore nirvana is a way of being selflessly staying in touch with the world.
Nirvana is not a thing itself. Thurman describes nirvana as like being in a dream state would that no limitations. Nirvana can be here if we turn our thinking around.