Week 41 - The Third Noble Truth - The Cessation of Dukkha

In his talk this week, Joseph describes the cessation of dukkha in the simplest of terms, as the letting go of craving. He then provides a framework for this letting go: short moments, many times. As he usually does, Joseph gives us specific ways to accomplish the task at hand, describing ways to abandon craving:

1.   Focus on the drawbacks of conditioned experience: he suggests an “increasingly refined awareness of the three characteristics” and we will see this as a theme throughout the talk and chapter.

2.   Notice how impermanence pervades our lives: “a deep reflection on this great truth of impermanence enlarges the context of our own experience and loosens the bond of craving and attachment”.

3.   Cut through identification with the knowing mind: “When we look for the mind, there is nothing to find, and yet the capacity for knowing is there. In the not-finding, the mind is already pacified.”

Because the third Noble Truth is the cessation of dukkha, Joseph goes on to tell us how the Buddha described Nibbana: “And what, Bikkhus, is the unconditioned? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. This is called the Unconditioned.”

Joseph cautions that “as long as there is identification with anything, any sense of the knower, we are still bound by the conventional conditioned mind.”

And he concludes, as he began, that the third Noble Truth, the cessation of dukkha, is the “final uprooting of greed, hatred, and delusion”.

QUESTIONS

1.  How would you describe the presence of desire and craving in your mind?

2.  Of the 3 aspects of conditioned experience—impermanence, unreliability, and the unsatisfying nature of all phenomena—does one provoke your awakening or disenchantment more frequently than the others?

3. Can you imagine the end of craving? Does that bring up a judgment, feeling or emotion in you?

4.  Is there a difference in the way you work with craving and desire on the mat vs. off the mat?

5.  Do you resonate in any way with being infatuated with your radiant mind?

PRACTICES

1. For the next week, designate a portion of your sitting time to working with desires that arise in your mind. Feel what desire feels like. Feel the quality of the mind when the desire dissipates.

2. If there is a particular desire or craving that frequently arises, practice riding out the craving at least once. Joseph suggests that a framework for our practice can be to release craving “short moments, many times.”

3. The next time you are aware that you are caught up in a drama, ask yourself how you are most likely to feel about the situation in 6 months or 1 year.

4.  The next time you note the anxious mind, try to find the mind. Can you see it? Feel it? Taste it?

5. In your meditation, note the knowing mind and see if you are able to attain a state of pure, simple awareness in which there is no reference point of self.