Skillful Understanding: Summary

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 54-55)

This is an overview of the previous 6 recaps on Skillful Understanding.

The reason that Skillful Understanding is the first step is that we benefit from knowing why we are following the path. There are two parts: Cause and Effect and The Four Noble Truths.

Understanding Cause and Effect

Karma means action but is best served in untranslated form.  Some definitions of karma include:

  • “The seeds of consequence that will bloom in the future when conditions are suitable”
  • “Karma is every word, thought and deed intentionally committed by someone not free from greed, hatred and ignorance”
  • “Acting in skillful ways leads to happy results and acting in unskillful ways leads to unhappy results”

All of this means that everything is connected.

The Four Noble Truths

The Truths can be summarized in four words:  dissatisfaction, cause, cessation, path

The First Truth:  Dissatisfaction (or similar words such as anxiety, anger, etc.)  can come from many sources.  There of the main ones are life cycle, change and no control.

  • Life Cycle consists of birth, sickness, old age, death.  All cause suffering.
  • Change is when we fail to accept the three characteristics of all experience: impermanence, inherently unsatisfying and selfless nature.
  • No control is when we fail to realize that we are never in control.  This relates to selflessness: no self, no control’

The Second Truth:  Cause

The cause of dissatisfaction (suffering) is when we want life to be other than it is and/or when we are attached to an outcome.  The opposite state is “Caring without demanding, loving without imposing conditions, moving toward your goals without attachment.”

The Third Truth:  The End of Dissatisfaction

The cure is cessation of all attachment.  We live in a state of choiceless awareness and not knowing.  We deeply know that “all that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.”

The Fourth Truth – the Eightfold Path

This is what we are studying and we have completed the first step:  Skillful Understanding.

The role of realistic perception (Mindfulness) is a separate step.  We can apply it now.

Next: Skillful Thinking: Overview, Letting Go: Material Objects
Previous: Skillful Understanding: The Four Noble Truths: The End of Dissatisfaction II