The Jedi way and Buddhism - Part 2

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31 Dec 2008 10:53 #21124 by Garm
Lets start with the Four Noble Truths. Suffering, Attachment, Liberation, and the path to liberation.

The first fact of life; Suffering (duhkha)

It all began with the young Prince’s confrontation with the facts of life: sickness, old age, and death. No one gets out pain free. Maybe you are lucky and your body doesn’t send you pain signals when something’s wrong, your old age is a bed of roses, and you’ll die in bed in your sleep when you least expect it. Even is this could be so, lets face it, because our life span will ultimately end means that we can never have it all. And so we are bound to be disappointed, and we’re bound to try some seeming solution that will really only perpetuate suffering. (unless we wake up to life’s truths)

Luke scrabbles over the gantry, his body aching, his arm searing in pain at his wrist just below where his hand should be. There is no escape from his foe. He turns to face him, and with four little words Darth Vader rips away the false reality Luke has lived with all his life.

“I am your father.”

Luke’s world suddenly turns upside-down and reveals a truth that is too much to bear. Unable to face it, awash in suffering, Luke lets go and falls.

Many of us have experienced moments of deep, overwhelming suffering. Times when our problems seem to be the only thing that exists, and when like Luke, even death seems preferable.

Birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, pain, grief, despair, separation are all forms of suffering. The simple fact is that suffering is a part of life.

Suffering exists in several forms. One form is ordinary suffering associated with the physical body, that of injury and illness.

A second form is associated with change. Life is always changing, we are constantly gaining and loosing things that bring us happiness.

The impermanence of life means that when something good happens it later passes away. The loss of happy feelings is an example of suffering.

Another form is frustration. When e are forced to be in a situation we do not lie or if we cannot do what we would like to do, we may become frustrated.

Anakin feels smothered by his exacting Master. He accuses Obi-wan of holding him back and even implies that his master was to blame for his mothers death. Anakin is frustrated because he is not entirely in control of the events in his life.

When we are not mindfully aware of frustration we often act in ways that are unconstructive. Anakin’s frustration is not handled well and it grows into a relentless quest of control that ultimately produces Darth Vader – as Vader and everything he touches, suffers immensely.

The dark side manifests as anger, fear, aggression and hatred. Master Yoda says “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” To take this a little further we approach a Buddhist principle – ‘Attachment to fear, anger, and hate is suffering.’ These things do not arise from one another, but from confusion within our own minds.

We cannot be rid of suffering by acting out our anger, the very act of getting rid of suffering by ‘venting’ is just another form of suffering.

Suffering is a natural experience of all humans – Jedi, Buddhists and everyone else. We can lesson the intensity of our suffering by facing it with clear mindfulness so it does not overwhelm us. We need only look to Anakin’s experience with the Tuskin Raiders.

Anakin is overwhelmed with grief when his mother died - understandable, but his grief grows into hatred directed towards her murderers and drives Anakin to slay them all. “ I killed them all. They’re dead – every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and he children too. They’re like animals and I slaughtered them like animals. I hate them!”

We can almost feel Anakin’s pain. His suffering is so deep and powerful it like a force of nature. We might imagine that acting out our anger will free us from it, but Anakin’s rage is not quelled by destroying the Tuskins – it is intensified by it.

Anakin failed to mindfully care for his sorrow and anger, magnifying the suffering within him. To free ourselves from suffering we need to first recognize that it is there. Being mindful in our daily lives allows us to be aware of the presence of suffering as it manifests.

After recognizing the presence of suffering we may become angry or disappointed with ourselves for allowing it to be there in the first place. These reactions don’t help, they only deepen our suffering. We need to accept it, to feel frustration, anger, hatred, sadness or whatever, they are a part of life.

They are not the cause of suffering. Our aversion to them is. Our natural tendency is to run away from difficult feelings – but running away is just another form of suffering. To look mindfully and accept or suffering offers us the opportunity to look deeply and more onto the step of transformation.

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