I described this blog recently as my Sandbox. It truly is. You, the reader can also use it as your sandbox by commenting below, sharing your thoughts and adding to the thoughts I share here. I have seen the Four Noble Truths written in different ways. In my original posting, I referred to the Third Noble Truth as “The Truth of Eradicating Suffering” but I have seen it defined different ways “The Truth of Cessation”, “The Truth of the end of Suffering”..etc. I figured I would keep it worded as I did originally as to not confuse anyone. I have also seen different ways to define it but the bottom line is that if you work at it, you can get rid of your anger, attachment, jealousy, affliction, obsessions ..etc.
Your homework from the last blog was to write down the things that afflict you. Did you get angry at the kids? What caused it? Did little Johnny bang on pots and pans? I guess there are two ways we can Eradicate that suffering, you can teach Little Johnny that it is not appropriate behavior, if that is how you feel. You can explain that pots and pans are used for cooking and not musical instruments. If you find it an acceptable behavior, you can look upon it as music to your ears. What you do not need to do in any circumstance is get angry about it. In fact, you can join them in their musical interlude. It all depends on your perspective on things.
While you are writing things down, lets focus on anger for a moment. Let’s hop in my car again and ugh! we are caught behind that slow driver again. What I have learned to do when I feel that anger or frustration level rise, I realize it, I take ownership of it, I suppress it while I think of a better way to handle the situation. I think I mentioned it before, I slow down, back off and perhaps pass the driver when it is safe to do so. With practice, this will become second nature for me without me having to grumble, grind my teeth, get angry or frustrated. It use to be that when someone would tailgate me or drive aggressively, I stood my ground, maybe I drove in such a way that I’d slow them down on purpose, perhaps they would make a gesture, maybe I would make a gesture back. What purpose does it serve other than to frustrate myself or the other driver? Maybe they are late, maybe they are in a hurry because someone in their family had an emergency and they are rushing to get to them. It’s not my business what they are doing. Sure I would hope they didn’t place my life in danger to get to where they are going but I could always pull off a bit so they can pass me. One may feel impatient when stuck in traffic, their stomach may be tied in a knot because they are going to be late. If we accept the situations we are in and make the best of them, there is so much we can let go, we eradicate a ton of emotional baggage! We start to feel good…
Wait, we are talking about anger and suffering and then I come out and say “We start to feel good”. Yes, that’s the point, replace Negative with Positive. Replace Sadness with Happiness, replace Anger with… wait, there are a ton of opposites to anger: agreeability, calm, cheer, comfort, contentment, delight, ease, enjoyment, glee, good natured, goodwill, happiness, joy, kindness, liking, love, peace, pleasure and pleasant to name a few. Can you replace anger with one of the above?
If you just make yourself aware of your “suffering”, be diligent and vigilant – continuously work to make yourself a better person you can systematically eradicate your suffering.
Let me also put another perspective on everything. When I was young I was positive, happy, loved everyone, always smiled and everything was wonderful. At some point later in life, changes, frustrations, emotions and stresses got the best of me. I focused on what I thought everyone else should be. I became angry because my expectations were not met. Not a knock on management or supervisors but I was part of management at one point so that reinforced those expectations. I lost myself, I lost that happy go lucky youngster and for several years I looked to bring that person back. Before I started getting involved in learning about Buddhism, these very principles of the Four Noble Truths helped me help me find my way back to the person I was, the happy go lucky guy. Now that I am practicing the Four Noble Truths and following the suggestions I have been writing about, I can see areas where I can continuously improve.
You often hear “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, you will not eradicate your “suffering” in a day either. Your homework is to take that list of yours, continue adding things but take something from your list and start working on dealing with it. Eradicate that suffering.