Monday, October 3, 2011

The End of Suffering

"When you can't stand the endless cycle of suffering anymore, you begin to awaken."
-- Eckhart Tolle --
("A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose")

"To the unawakened mind, life is suffering," the Buddha taught. This First Noble Truth was the prime basis of all the Buddha's teachings. Turning his back on his own practice of self-induced suffering (he was born a wealthy prince) the Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi Tree determined not to move from that spot until he had achieved enlightenment. 

It is said that during the four watches of the night he consecutively realized (a) that ordinary life is suffering, (b) that there are specific causes of suffering, (c) that there is an end to suffering by eliminating these causes, and (d) that there is a path to eliminating these causes. Thus, the Buddha's own enlightenment is evidence, as Tolle notes, that the beginning of awakening is unendurable suffering.

Moreover, it is taught in some schools that this realization, some 2,500 years ago, was the first turning of the dharma wheel, the first realization of the true nature of being, and the first realization of nirvana. If this is so, then Tolle's observation is all the more pertinent. The Buddha's awakening was then, indeed, the beginning of the end of "the endless cycle of suffering" - the beginning of the end of both individual and collective suffering.

"Suffering is a wonderful teacher," Tolle observes in the video (below) on "The End of Suffering. And for some people it is their only spiritual teacher he points out. "Suffering deepens you. It gradually erodes the mind-made human sense of self, the ego. And for some people the point arises where they realize, "I have suffered enough."" This, he points out, "is the end of living in the state of suffering."

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