What Follows has been extracted from a Thread in the GTS group, I think it would be redundant to post the entire thread here as what follows seems to cover the most important points of the main thread. Although I do mean to extract and compile some of Rachels thoughts as a seperate page. ;) BB.
If I may return to our Thread on the First Noble Truth:
Omahhung, wrote: SO I HAVE HEARD that the Buddha taught the lesson he himself experienced. And the basis of those teachings we, so many generations now later, often call Four Noble Truths. And here you expand eloquently on the first one of those, The Noble Truth of Suffering.
The teacher named Ajahn Sumedho summarizes this teaching nicely by writing these words: " The First Noble Truth with its three aspects is: "There is suffering, dukkha. Dukkha should be understood. Dukkha has been understood."
It is useful to contrast these words with some of those from your Analysis: "...when these aspects of life basically exploded on his awareness his re-action was rather extreme, which lead to first Noble Truth. Life Is Duhkha. or Life is Suffering. Having been exposed to the raw reality of Death, Disease, and Poverty. The Buddha concluded that life was suffering...."
BB re: A beautifully stated vision of the First noble truth, and I appreciate the vision.
Where you may have interpreted the Buddha's teaching to say that "life is suffering," I feel that is a mis-statement. Rather a more correct thought is that he taught, "There is suffering." You see the two different meanings? The first is absolute. Whereas, the second shows that suffering is really only part of the absolute.
BB re: If I may reply to this point, I would not be so bold at this point to try to speak to exactly what the Buddha said about anything quite for myself. The Translation that "Life is Duhkha or, Life is Suffering is not 'Mine' per say, but one I have encountered repeatedly in this exploration of the tradion to this point. We see it, (among other places) in Buddhism: a concise Introduction, page 32. Where the authors Huston Smith (15 Years in the Mahayana Zen Tradition, and a Chela of Goto Zuigan Roshi) and Novak a life long practitioner of the Theravavda Vipassana Tradition begin to explore the concept at some length.
First Quoting Thoreau
Lo as wind is, so is mortal life:
A moan, a sign, a sob, a storm and Strife.
And then Robert Penn Warren:
Oh, it is real, it is the only real thing.
Pain. So let us name the truth like men.
We are born to joy that joy may become pain.
We are born to hope that hope may become pain. <snipped there is much more>
I don't think however that the Authors mean to leave us with this despair, only to point out it is not an inherently Buddhist position that something is amiss with the world, that in point of fact the idea has roots of its own deep in western thought.
Something Amiss: Lets explore this a minute, for when the authors explain more fully the "Literal" meaning of Duhkka, we see this is very much in play. The Authors advise us the Literally Duhkka refers to the Axle of a Cart that is out of True. We have all handled Grocery carts whose wheels have come out of true, the cart shakes, and wobbles, and the ride is forced an full of friction. This then is the authors, most exact vision of Duhkka, and one that I feel has refined my understanding of the concept enough to share with you.
For on the one hand all I need to reassure me that Life is not Duhkka, is a simple walk through the park, to witness and appreciate the beauty of Momma Ki, in her green garments. Life feels like a gift, and I am daily amazed at the ease and beauty with which the Lady expresses herself.
If however an hour later, I take the same walk, with the Beagle, and we have Duhkka a plenty. For as a man, I want to walk at a given pace, I prefer to keep to the trail indicated, or at least not wander to far off it, and to arrive back home again in a reasonable amount of time. The Beagle however, acting only in accordance with his nature as a beagle is not at all interested in my agenda. Firstly he sees no reason why he should not carefully sniff each leaf that has fallen in the state of Maryland. (A discarded chicken nugget might be hiding under the next one.) He is actually a model of Mindfulness, ( or nosefulness at any rate.) Of course carefully padding through each leaf, means that we move at the pace of speeding glacier, but you have something better to do??? Oh you do, well I don't, - Pull Pull- let me get back to this one, I didn't have quite enough time to really check that last smell out. And what is your fascination with the sidewalk, all the really good smells are on the tree line, or better in the underbrush, smells like Bunnies in there lets check that out. Pull Pull. You get the Idea.
Yet I really think Sals walk is a good metaphor for our lives just now. Instead of living in concert with Momma Ki, Our world is tugged out of true by our own selfish cravings, and has become like a unbalanced ecological top. Threatened by Pollution, Global Warming, Deforestation, and the collapse of the Oceanic Ecosystem that is gaining momentum, it seems sometimes like it is only a matter of time before the wobbling top tumbles. We are all aware of these things, but are they our primary concerns as individuals or a nation, or are we so blinded by our "Self Cravings" that we are more concerned with the doings of the "Desperate Housewives" of Westeria Lane, and where we get to watch their naughtyness on a widescreen TV, preferably in HD. Or my own fascination with metaphysics.
This is in a nut shell my vision of the First Noble Truth: Life is Blessed Gift from Momma-Ki, but it is a gift that our individual and collective desires, have pulled out of true.
So to return to Patricks Text.
So this is the good news. There is no need to despair. Life is not suffering even though there is often much suffering in life. Life is not Duhkha. And the further good news is there are teachings leading to the end of suffering. So all is not lost. And lastly, this is not at odds with your Pagan beliefs but rather in concert with them. After all, are we not all one?
See more on the First Noble Truth at this location: http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble.htm
A lovely site, I look forward to exploring it further.
Ama tu ANKI, BB.