The Second Noble Truth

Since I came back to my apartment on Monday, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Buddhists call the Second Noble Truth.  Thirst, hunger for what we don’t have is the source for the dissatisfaction, unease, and pain of the First Noble Truth.  When I returned to the apartment, I realized how important it was to me to get back home as quickly as possible once I heard that we could return. Although I found refuge with family last weekend, it was not the same as being home. I wanted … I needed … to be back where I’ve been living for the past two years.  Only.  Go figure.

Since yesterday, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to let go of things.  Not only was my car flooded over the seats, the large storage area I’ve been renting was also half filled with water.  After the water was gone, they let us go down there to assess the damage.  As I told the insurance adjuster, there was little monetary value to the items that were ruined.  But much emotional attachment.  The two 2-drawer file cabinets were full of documents that meant a lot to me: memorabilia of trips, of life with Laura, and many, many notes for pre-computer writing projects.  It also just occurred to me that I’ve lost the only copies I had of three of my publications from the time in Chapel Hill, in a box that was at the bottom of the pile with who knows what else.  On the other hand, I was able to retrieve a box of pre-digital photos and the Christmas decorations that Laura loved so well.

I had to sign a release yesterday authorizing the landlord to dispose of all the stuff that I couldn’t rescue. It felt as though I was signing away large chunks of my life.  I had been thinking that the Prius I bought when we sold the house after Laura died would be my last car.  Instead, the insurance company will total it and tow it away.  A lot of my widowhood and Anne Mei’s adolescence took place in and around that car.  Only the EZ-pass transponder remains.

It’s time to let go.

Closing thoughts.  The Four Noble Truths are not really truths.  As Stephen Batchelor puts it, they are “not propositions to believe; they are challenges to act.”  Some even argue that the four are not themselves “noble,” but rather that those who understand and practice them are raised up ethically.  In any case, these challenges are:

1. understand dissatisfaction, unease, and pain
2. let go of its origins
3. realize its cessation
4. cultivate the path.

My own version runs:

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


One Comment

  1. Well said, Ken. I feel your challenge, though mine includes dealing with the dismay of years of accumulation and holding on to things passed down from others I loved.

    Your journey now comes out of IDA’s path of destruction. So many face tragic loss. Mine come from personal weakness

    ❤️ Kate

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