Mindfulness of Dhammas: The Four Noble Truths IV

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness (pp.159-166)

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening (pp. 287-323) 

“Again, monks, in regard to dhammas he abides contemplating dhammas in terms of the four noble truths. And how does he in regard to dhammas abide contemplating dhammas in terms of the four noble truths? “Here he knows as it really is, ‘this is dukkha’; he knows as it really is, ‘this is the arising of dukkha’; he knows as it really is, ‘this is the cessation of dukkha’; he knows as it really is, ‘this is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha.’ 

The Fourth Noble Truth:  The Way of Practice Leading to the Cessation of Stress

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

The Eightfold Path is divided into three stages:  wisdom, morality, and concentration.  Bhante G. uses “skillful” instead of “right” and “understanding” for the first step instead of view and  “thinking” instead of “resolve” for the second step.  The steps as described by Bhante G are:

Wisdom consists of two steps

Skillful Understanding: We see that every action we take is a cause leading to an effect. We accept that it is up to us to create the causes for the good life we wish to have now and in the future.

Skillful Thinking: We cultivate positive thoughts, such as generosity or letting go, loving-friendliness, and compassion.

Morality is adopting core values and living your life in accordance with them.  The three core values are:

contained in the steps:

Skillful Speech We tell the truth and avoid harsh or malicious talk and idle gossip.

Skillful Action We lead moral lives, abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and intoxication.

Skillful Livelihood. We choose an ethical profession and conduct ourselves at work with honesty and integrity.

Concentration is the process for practice and contains three steps:

Skillful Effort; We are unrelenting in preventing and overcoming negative states of mind and cultivating and maintaining positive states.

Skillful Mindfulness:  We practice mindfulness meditation daily and cultivate mindfulness as our approach to everyday living.

Skillful Concentration:  We train our minds in single-pointed focus so that we can attain the jhana states of deep concentration.

The Wisdom Steps

Skillful Understanding

This step presents the understanding for why we are following the path.  There are two factors to understand:  cause and effect and the Four Noble Truths

Cause and Effect

Karma refers to how both skillful and unskillful behavior affects an individual over time. – everything is connected.  The basis of Buddhist morality is that acting in unskillful ways leads to unhappy results, and acting in skillful ways leads to happy results.  There are ten unskillful actions that will cause harm: what we do with our body (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct); what we do with our speech (lying, malicious talk (e.g. gossip), harsh language, useless speech); what we allow in our mind (covetousness, ill will, delusion).  Avoiding these of unskillful behaviors is not a doctrine or set of commandments to be blindly followed.   Rather, behaviors (unskillful or skillful) are actions that will yield predictable results.

The Four Noble Truths (understanding the nature of suffering)

The Truths can be described succinctly:

First Noble Truth:  There is Dissatisfaction (suffering).

Second Noble Truth: There is a Cause of Dissatisfaction.

Third Noble Truth:  There is a way to create Cessation of Dissatisfaction.

Fourth Noble Truth:  The way to Cessation of Dissatisfaction is through the (Eightfold) Path 

Skillful Thinking

“And what, is Right Thought?  Thought associated with renunciation, thought associated with absence of ill will, thought associated with absence of cruelty.  This is called Right Thought.”

With Skillful Thinking, we learn how to recognize and deal with the unskillful thoughts that arise.  As with all phenomena, these thoughts have the three characteristics of impermanence, inherent unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness.  We do not control our thoughts; we practice mindfulness as they arise.  Skillful thinking is about seeing these thoughts for what they are and knowing that we can let go.

Thoughts are fabrications of our mind.  Thoughts can be skillful or unskillful.

Skillful thoughts are associated with letting go (renunciation), absence of ill will and absence of cruelty.

Unskillful thoughts are associated with attachment (material objects, people, experiences, beliefs and emotions), ill-will, and cruelty.

When unskillful thoughts arise, we can counter them as follows:

Attachment:  Generosity

Ill-will:  Loving Kindness

Cruelty:  Compassion.

In the next talk, we will explore the Morality Step.

Reflection

  • Reread and reflect on this talk daily.

Meditation

  • Meditate using the mindfulness of the breath technique and focus your insight meditation on states of mind that arise

Next: Mindfulness of Dhammas: The Four Noble Truths V
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