By Donnalyn Giegerich
‘Tis the season to be jolly! But what if you’re not?
Well, if you’re chasing enlightenment in the New Year and are interested in how others have historically managed suffering, it might serve you well to review the Four Noble Truths. Buddhists everywhere will share that abiding by these key life lessons you will improve your groove in 2015.
The word Buddha is derived from the Sanskrit root word “budh” which means to awaken or to become enlightened. According to this 2,500-year-old philosophy, a crucial step toward enlightenment or awakening is to surrender to suffering. The Four Noble Truths give us clues on how to alleviate suffering.
The first Noble Truth describes suffering as a universal occurrence. We all experience “dukkha” which are those unpleasant things in life that we would prefer to avoid. Suffering, in a way, is the great humanitarian equalizer. No one goes unscathed from suffering in his or her lifetime. It’s how the person handles suffering that can make all the difference in their life and the lives of others.
The second Noble Truth centers on the origin of suffering. Suffering manifests when we cling to or crave pleasure or permanency. At the same time, suffering can arise by rejecting what is or avoiding the unpleasantries of life that we have no control over. Ever hear the phrase “Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is optional?” The Buddha speaks to our choice in how we manage challenge and crisis.
The third Noble Truth speaks to the cessation of suffering. If we apply the teachings to our lives, and learn to accept life for what it is and what it serves up, then we are better positioned to suffer less and savor more. Tall order, no doubt, but through meditation, yoga and thoughtful awareness, we have tools to help us reduce suffering and dial up acceptance of reality. In the teachings, we are reminded that all that begins, also must end and learning to embrace this notion will help us come to terms with multiple-layered levels of suffering. How many times have we been called to learn the same lesson in different forms over and over again before we finally “get it?”
Lastly, the fourth and final Noble Truth embraces and supports ethical livelihood and a moral compass as a directive for a life well-lived. To ensure liberation from suffering, if we act well, speak well, are well-intentioned and activate authentic effort in the way we conduct ourselves, we become closer to a life lived mindfully which aligns with a life filled with less suffering. If we are sincere and genuinely interested in living in the present moment and responding with thoughtful consideration and generosity toward ourselves and others, we find ourselves moving through the world satisfied more and suffering less.
As you take down your Christmas tree and celebratory symbols this season, consider what it might be like for you to sit underneath a Bodhi tree as Prince Siddhartha did when he became enlightened at age 35. May the New Year bring you less suffering and more mental clarity. Namaste!
DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that keynotes, consults and coaches on enlightened leadership themes in the corporate, wellness and convention space. Learn more at www.donnalyn.org.
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