Four noble truths, eightfold path

One last methodological note before proceeding to the pain of aphasia.  Actually, this will be a correction to my failure in a previous post to explain my reference to the Second Noble Truth.

The many varieties of Buddhism share the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, if nothing else.  Maurice Walshe gives a typical statement of the Four Noble Truths in his introduction to his translation of the Digha Nikaya, The Long Discourses of the Buddha:

  1. Suffering
  2. The Origin of Suffering, which is craving
  3. The Cessation of Suffering
  4. The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, which is the Noble Eightfold Path.  (Walshe 25)

At this point I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion of these four points.  Nor am I going to quibble with the awkwardness of calling them “Noble.”  Mostly I just want them on the record so that I can link any further references to them.  But I do want to note that there are other ways to make these four statements that I find more helpful.

The website for a local Chan Buddhist community (  presents them more as activities to do than as abstractions to think about:

  1. First noble truth: Suffering  – must be understood.
  2. Second noble truth: the Cause of suffering – must be abandoned.
  3. Third noble truth: the Cessation of suffering – must be experienced.
  4. Fourth noble truth: the Path out of suffering  – must be practiced.

During Laura’s last months I came up with my own formulation:

1.    life sucks/shit happens
2.    get over it
3.    i.e., get over yourself
4.    now move on

The life-sucks version of the 1st statement hates the world, hates ourselves, hates others.  The shit-happens version is too passive, but still negative. Resigned.  Both versions contain dualistic thinking, good vs evil.  So I’ve tried other versions.  The one that relates most to the open-close-open theme in this blog goes:

1.    Open up.  Life hurts.
2.    Open up.  Get over it.
3.    Open up.  That means get over yourself.
4.    Open up.  Now move on.

Note.  Four openings, not the four openings.  Not asserted as a fixed, closed set of statements.  Open in and as to how they are expressed.  Yet expressing each does close it, at least for the moment of expressing and receiving.  Nothing wrong with closing.  It happens.  That’s #1, in any case.  The problem is stopping at one point in open-close-open.

Walshe also provides a standard statement of the Eightfold Path contained in the Fourth Noble Truth.

  1. Right View.
  2. Right Thought.
  3. Right Speech.
  4. Right Action.
  5. Right Livelihood.
  6. Right Effort.
  7. Right Mindfulness.
  8. Right Concentration.

I like Rodney Smith’s re-statement better, despite his use of “mindfulness.”

  1. Wise view
  2. Wise intention
  3. Wise speech
  4. Wise action
  5. Wise livelihood
  6. Wise effort
  7. Wise mindfulness
  8. Wise samadhi (Smith 11-16).

My rendition of eight aspects of moving now would be:

1.    Look openly.
2.    Aim openly.
3.    Speak openly.
4.    Act openly.
5.    Live openly.
6.    Open work.
7.    Open now.
8.    Open how.

In each case we are opening as we close and closing as we open.

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