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Welcoming our suffering - Week 3 Four Noble Truths Practice Period

Updated: Feb 27, 2019



After thinking about suffering as a concept, we dove this week into making room for our suffering as a bodily experience. We first reviewed the types of suffering described in the Buddhist Hell Realms: 

  • the hot and cold anger of the Hell Realm

  • the habitual reactions of the Animal Realm

  • the thirsting and dissatisfaction of the Hungry Ghost Realm

  • the rejection of truth in the Human Realm

  • the jealousy and war-making of the Asura Realm

  • the selfish fragility of the Heavenly Realm

The Sangha used a guided meditation to invite our own suffering forward, sensing it within the body and noticing which realm it arose from. Then, forming ourselves into pairs, we repeatedly inquired of each other, ‘How does your suffering benefit you?’ and ‘How does your suffering imprison you?’ By opening to these questions again and again, we found our way beneath automatic, self-protected responses and discovered something deeper about why we repeat old behavior patterns even when we know that they harm us.


Next week we’ll explore how suffering arises and begin turning our attention to the path that leads to liberation. In preparation, you may want to begin reading pages 49-118 of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. There’s no rush. Please read slowly, a sentence or paragraph or page at a time, sipping the words like a cup of warm tea. Swallow the words into your body and feel their warmth before you take another sip. We have the luxury of a whole month to ingest these few pages. 

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