Four Noble Truths

This Sunday the topic for our exploration and reflection was the Four Noble Truths. With teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh and Stephen Batchelor, Ginny led us on an exploration of the foundational nature of this teaching.

We discussed how just “showing up” and witnessing the activity of our mind can often be the hardest and most important thing to do to relieve suffering.

Below are Ginny’s notes from the talk.

Reflection on righteousness, clinging and suffering.

Ginny shared reflections on her own attachment to judgement – in particular, judgment of the old guard of environmentalism. This arising of suffering J began in response to a reference to Henry David Thoreau in Michael’s talk the week before.

Ginny walked us through the exploration of the suffering and the four noble truths and the experience of being free from suffering.

On Thoreau – expanding the view.

On transcendentalists from handy dandy Wikipedia:

A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent.

Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters.

Excerpt from Thoreau’s essay Slavery in Massachusetts:

“I wish my countrymen to consider, that whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can ever commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual without having to pay the penalty for it.” Thoreau

Readings on the Four Noble Truths from:

Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings p. 9-10

Stephen Batchelor’s After Buddhism – where he talks about the Four tasks  p. 55-58

Audio dharma talk:

Gil Fronsdal – The Simplicity of the Four Noble Truths


by Tony Hoagland

Sometimes I prefer not to untangle it
I prefer it to remain disorganized
because it is richer that way
like a certain shrubbery I pass each day on Reba Street
in an unimpressive yard, in front of a home
that seems unoccupied
a chest-high, spreading shrub with
large white waxy blossoms —
whose stalks are climbed and woven
through simultaneously
by a different kind of vine with small
magenta flowers
that appear and disappear inside the
maze of leaves
like tiny purple stitches.
The white and purple combination
of these species,
one seeming to possibly be strangling
the other,
one possibly lifting the other up – it
would take both
a botanist and a psychologist
to figure it all out.