Dancing with Life (DWL) (pp. 151-167)
The First Insight: There is Cessation of Suffering
“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of stress’…
With the insights of the First Noble Truth, there is suffering, we developed “the ability to stay present with life just as it is.” (DWL p. 75). With the Second Noble Truth, we learned the origination (cause) of suffering is attachment. Through reflection and meditation, we experienced the difference between desire and attachment. We practiced abandoning the origination of suffering and with this letting go, we experienced temporary freedom.
Batchelor expresses the first two noble truths as: (1) embrace life and (2) let go of what arises. With the Third Noble Truth, we look at the what is when we let go, the state of non-attachment or cessation. Batchelor expresses this as “see its ceasing.” So the first insight of the Third Noble Truth can be stated as the insight of non-attachment.
It is important to realize that “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.” We know from the Second Noble Truth that desires arise all of the time. When our attachment to a desire falls away, there is a tendency to attach to another. This can lead to an endless cycle of attachments. Sumedho noted, “I was brought up in America — the land of freedom. It promises the right to be happy, but what it really offers is the right to be attached to everything.” (p.38)
What would it be like if there were complete cessation? As Moffitt notes, “Thus when there is cessation, your mind no longer burns in response to the arising of pleasant and unpleasant in your life…Your mind is willing to be with what is true in the moment and isn’t disturbed by it.” (DWL p. 155)
Sumedho asks us to reflect on “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.” “I would like to emphasize how important it is to develop this way of reflecting. Rather than just developing a method of tranquillising your mind, which certainly is one part of the practice, really see that proper meditation is a commitment to wise investigation. It involves a courageous effort to look deeply into things, not as analyzing yourself and making judgments about why you suffer on a personal level, but resolving to really follow the path until you have profound understanding. Such perfect understanding is based upon the pattern of arising and ceasing. Once this law is understood, everything is seen as fitting into that pattern.” (The Four Noble Truths, p. 39-40)
As Moffitt notes, “(He (the Buddha) is telling you that it is possible for you to move from the “taste” of the mind being free of clinging to the direct knowing of pure awareness where there is no object of awareness, no observer, and no awareness of awareness. (DWL p. 152). Total cessation occurs.
Ronald Siegal talks about our habitual behavior having a “set point” in which we react to desires in the same way. Moffitt compares this to being on a treadmill created by the constant presence of stress and the lack of any lasting satisfaction in life. With mindfulness practice of the Third Noble Truth, we are resetting our set point to our true nature and experiencing cessation of being identified with the treadmill.
Investigate Attachment with Life as Your Teacher
As life flows through you, you can investigate your own reactions and ask, “What does attachment feel like?” “For example, do you feel happy or liberated by being attached to desire? Is it uplifting or depressing? These questions are for you to investigate. If you find that being attached to your desires is liberating, then do that. Attach to you desires and see what the result it.” Sumedho p. 37.
- Reread and reflect on this talk daily. Notice when you are having a reaction (attachment) and ask if you feel happy or liberated with the attachment. If not, what is it?
- Meditate as usual in your daily practice. See if you can experience “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.”