I was in the bath, thinking about Buddha. I wanted to share with you what I consider to be the most essential truth in all the teachings.... And then I saw this beautiful painting by my friend Lynn.
So before I tell you the Most Essential Truth of Buddhism (according to me, a lay person), some background:
My friend Niranjan Shah is a historian. He says the age of the Historical Buddha has been verified with astronomical events in his writings.
The historical period is generally established as ~500 BC. Niranjan says he died in 1800 BC, 1,300 years earlier.
I think it is absolutely remarkable this wisdom might be nearly 4,000 years old. Can you imagine that? I couldn't even hang on to the stuff passed down to me for 40 years.
My childhood poetry and early TV shows: gone. My dad's photographs: gone. Generations of genealogical records: gone. 500 record albums: gone. My first grade report card: gone. My earliest experimental recordings from ~14 y/o: gone. My mom's obituary: gone. This is just in the span of a single lifetime: 50 years or so.
Now think of all the floods, fire, famine, volcanoes, typhoons, wars, plagues etc which has happened in 4,000 years. Yet human beings thought this information was so valuable to preserve it for millennia. Amazing.
So here it is. This is extremely precious wisdom, for those who are ready:
It is true that every body will get sick, experience pain and discomfort, and will eventually die. Everything which was assembled, will eventually decay. This is a fact of reality, so we should expect this!
While some physical pain and discomfort is inevitable, and the emotional grief of loss also, the fact remains that most of our suffering is caused by the unskilled mind, untrained mind.
The source of all suffering is craving and aversion. These defilements also arise as greed and hatred, or attachment and resentment. Almost always in pairs.
These mental defilements are the cause of all suffering, and in turn, are caused by what is called ignorance or delusion. These defilements are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the world and yourself.
The good news is that suffering can be modulated (changed) with skill and practice. You can be happy and free if you desire it. Anyone can learn a few simple techniques. After that, there is only practice.
Happiness and Freedom is at the core of your being. You can find it there if you look.
This is just the greatest truth of Buddhism. This, and a description of the meditation techniques, is the knowledge so precious that human beings have preserved it for 4,000 years.
I hope this is helpful.
Painting by Lynn Capani-Czebiniak