to Problem Solving
Good morning everyone! Thank you coming to this morning's mini-seminar on the Four Noble Truth, entitled Four Steps to Problem Solving.
The Four Noble Truths is the very first sermon that Shakyamuni Buddha made to his five disciples in Deer Park. Shakyamuni Buddha contemplated and was enlightened to the realization that "Life is suffering". There are many things in life that you cannot control.
Life is the process of being born into this world, getting old, facing sickness and in time, facing death. We go through life wishing and searching for happiness. What is this happiness we search? In our life, I think we all believe that we are very happy when things turn out the way we want them to be.
We undoubtedly hope that things turn out how we envisions things; we wish that things turn out our way. But in reality, we know it doesn't. Things rarely turn out the way we hope they do.
This causes us suffering, anxiety, impatience and even anger. We blame others and we even get lost in our ways. We try to get rid of our suffering "our" way.
Shakyamuni Buddha wants us to overcome our suffering by first accepting
our suffering as it is and make that a step towards our growth and an opportunity to make our life more positive. This method of overcoming suffering has been proven scientifically.
The Four Noble Truths are (1) The Truth of Suffering; (2) The Truth of Cause; (3) The Truth of the Path and (4) The Truth of Extinction.
Truth of Suffering: Our lives are filled with spiritual, physical, economic and other forms of suffering. We feel like running away from or ignoring our problems. But we learn that it is very important for us to face the reality of human sufferings. We must acknowledge the real condition of our suffering and see it through without avoiding it or meeting it only half way. This is the Truth of Suffering.
The more we run away from our suffering, it will follow you. Therefore, we must acknowledge to ourselves that “I am facing a problem. Let me use this opportunity to be positive and step up in my life. I must be determined." We must make a promise to see this suffering through. [Face the reality of our suffering.]
However, man cannot alleviate his suffering just by recognizing it. The Buddha taught that man must go further and investigate the cause of suffering, reflecting on it and clearly discerning it.
This is the Truth of Cause.
The Truth of Cause: [Reflect on the cause of our suffering.] This means that we must reflect on what causes or produces our suffering. The original cause of suffering is ignorance as shown in the teaching of the Law of Twelve Causes. Ignorance is to not to have a right view of life or to disregard the right view even when one knows it. Because of being ignorant, one repeatedly does things that depart from the "Truth". Therefore, we must investigate the causes and understand them clearly. We must also reflect on our problems and analyze them based on the Law of Causation. We must reflect that "Everything starts with me!"
Buddha showed us the Truth of the Path, which enables us to be led to the extinction of suffering. This is achieved by the practice of the Eightfold Path and the Six Perfections.
The Truth of the Path: It shows us the way to absolute peace and the state of quietude that we can obtain through the practice of the Bodhisattva way as follows:
1. Remember that, if I change, others will change. If my attitude of mind and heart changes, the world around me will change. When the cause changes, the resulting effect will change." We can influence the other person's cause by being a good condition. We must accumulate good cause for our life; to make good energy for our life.
2. Prepare a plan to solving your suffering based on the "Truth". We have the tendency to just quickly solving the problem we face without any plan. We just have the strong feeling to "get rid of the suffering any way we can". However, we must be careful not to just cover our suffering with a band-aid or even worse, fuel the fire. For example, to get rid of a debt, we might have an urge to borrow money today to pay off that debt, but we must be very careful not to take out an even larger loan tomorrow because we don't have money again. In our hearts and minds, we must do our very best, based on the teachings and patiently wait for Buddha's arrangement.
3. We must study the teachings on a daily basis. We must believe that everything is Buddha's arrangement, All good things are due to the support of others; all unpleasant things are due to my own doing. However difficult, if we can make these are basic attitudes, we will be on the Path.
The Truth of Extinction: This is the state of absolute quietude where all of our sufferings are extinguished. This is a state where we realize the Seal of the Three Laws which states that "All things are impermanent", "Nothing has an ego" and "Nirvana is quiescence".
However, an ordinary person cannot easily realize these three great truths. In order to do so, it is important to imagine in your mind the state where you have completely solved your problem. Keep this image in your mind. The stronger you imagine this state, it will become closer to reality. There is a saying which we should try to keep in our mind that goes something like this - "When you give it your best, it will come to be, when you don't, nothing will happen." The teachings of the Four Noble Truths teaches us how we can fundamentally solve our suffering that we are faced with in our daily lives; how we can obtain a mental state of peace and quietude, to think positively. We should not be self-centered in our actions.
Founder Niwano had a wish that everyone live in happiness and harmony with each other. Let’s also keep Founder's wish in our mind and heart. In doing so, we can accept all sufferings that we face as an opportunity to take a step up in our life.
We are taught that there are two ways of living our life: [Go to Board]
One life we live is the self-centered one where we wish to change all phenomena to suit our situation, our needs, our desires. We may ask the buddha to help us by asking him to change the other person so that we can be free from the suffering. The suffering may temporarily disappear but we may feel the need to continuously blame others or run away from our true suffering because we don't want to change ourself. We want the other person to change. Again, we are looking to change the result to suit our needs. Suffering returns.
The other way we can live life is where we maintain our connection with the Buddha. We cultivate the fields of our hearts and minds. We learn from the situation we are placed in and use this opportunity to grow. When we realize that all phenomena are arranged by the Buddha and do our best to follow the Buddha and Founder's guidance, we are able to overcome our suffering. We can accept that because of the suffering, we can connect with the Buddha. We must learn from the other person, and we strive to be a good encounter to the other person.
About five years ago, our family struggled financially. I was at my wits end, trying to maintain a normal life but every day our situation didn't get any better. I believed that things will get even worse. Actually, I didn't know what to do to continue living. I believed and imagined that the suffering we were experiencing was due to my husband building our home, which was beyond our needs and capacity. We were having difficulty making the mortgage payments and I was considering selling our home but I didn't have the courage or decency to discuss any of the options with anyone much less my husband.
The true cause of my suffering was due to my attachment to solve our family problems under "my" terms and conditions. I wanted to hide the severity of the situation from everyone including my family. This is because I wanted to be in total control of every situation and because I was finally losing all control, my suffering at that time was snowballing!
After much contemplation, I finally decided to receive guidance from Rev. Idei, and with the support and encouragement of my mother, the members and my family, we decided to move in with my mother. I wanted to find out why I was in the situation I was in. I truly wanted to stop repeating the same suffering I was having all these years.
With the guidance I received, I devoted myself to the duties of the church so that I can find the cause of my suffering and to find the path to extinguishing my suffering.
Based on the guidance of Founder Niwano, I started the monthly Life Appreciation Service at my home. I prayed to give my appreciation to my ancestors, especially to my father who cared for me very much, to my dear mother-in-law who died of a car accident, and my wonderful sister-in-law who died of leukemia. I continue this practice of Life Appreciation Service to my ancestors to thank them for the life I now have.
I can truly say today that thanks to the suffering I faced, I was better able to devote myself to the practices of the teachings so that I can walk the right path towards the Buddha.
I am blessed with a wonderful and caring family. The suffering I faced not so long ago seems to have subsided and now I can see that the Buddha arranged everything so that I can connect with the Buddha, my ancestors and the teaching.
Thank you very much for coming today. I hope you can take some small part of the lecture today to help you overcome your suffering.
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Testimony of Faith
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