See, I knew if I titled this blog, “The Third Noble Truth,” you’d not click it. Ah ha! No, don’t click away. This is the good stuff. Finally. This is the Nirvana.
Over the past couple weeks I’ve written about the first and second of Buddha’s four noble truths. As explained before, life is defined by suffering, or dukkha. The second truth asks us to look at the reason for dukkha, which is attachment or clinging. In Pali, this is called tanha, and it’s an all-encompassing concept for the idea of fixation.
Buddha’s whole point, his raison d’être, was figuring out how to end suffering. He spent years working on the problem and eventually, he figured it out – that anyone, any time, anywhere can end their suffering. By removing desire, ill will and ignorance (all forms of attachment), Enlightenment is feasible.
Suffering has an end. When we stop craving and clinging, and calm conflicting emotions, there is that great peace. Nirvana. It requires a shift in perspective. It’s difficult for me to understand, but I’m working on it. I ask myself:
- Does anything that I’m holding onto enrich my life?
- Does the accumulation of things make me happier?
- Do rigid beliefs and ideas make me more content?
We’re so invested in things: self-concepts and accumulations, possessions and activities, being that person we think we are. And all this holding onto… it’s exhausting. We can grasp, and yet every.single.thing. is going to continue to slip through our fingers.
How to get to Nirvana? Contemplation. Understand attachment and gain insight into non-attachment. It should be a natural realization (that’s what they say), but it takes time and reflection and a willingness to be open and recognize the utter fool’s gold around which we build our lives.
For me, just considering these things lends itself to some peace. We all have our own mountain. Addiction is mine, and it’s easy to relate to Buddhism, so perhaps that is why this teaching is so appealing to me. The idea of attachment causing suffering…. I’m well versed in this. And on a day-to-day level, I know how glorious it is to feel a cessation from want. It’s so, so sweet. And the thing is, my want for substance-induced oblivion is no different for your want of… anything else. Only difference, as far as I can see, is that I’ve learned just how destructive such desire can be.