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Welcome to Jeroensjourney 2!
Dear reader, Beste lezer,
 
Welcome to the weblog that follows on jeroensjourney.punt.nl. Here I will update you on my experiences in Thailand and India, and my personal inner or spiritual journey. After my healing journey described on jeroensjourney.punt.nl (with also information about Buddhism, meditation, Taoism and other healing practices), this weblog, from early 2007, relates about further healing and spiritual growth for an increasingly happy and true life.
 
With love from Asia,
 
Jeroen Deva Geetesh (jeroensjourney@gmail.com)
(I check this e-mail not very often, so let me know, on my blog, that you sent me an e-mail)
 
P.S.:
Je reactie is van harte welkom!     
Reactions are very welcome!
No good, no evil, no right, no wrong, not black, not white
 
Dear reader,
 
This is a blog that I have been planning to write for over a year. Non-dualism is one of the most important principles in Buddhism and Taoism and one of the most difficult ones to understand.
 
 
The evil of dualism
 
Although, I come to that, this principle is in no way conflicting with what for instance Jezus taught, almost all Christian churches have spread and exploited the idea of an absolute good and an absolute evil. An idea that continues to cause suffering and still leads to wars and destruction even today. Because if you believe there is something like an absolute evil, than the step to 'fight' that evil and in the end kill those who you think are evil is easily made. It is then no surprise that Christian fundamentalists like George Bush, use terms like 'The axis of evil' and other generalising and dangerous terms. As in this example, it is generally those who use the word 'evil' and believe in an absolute 'evil' who behave 'evil'. Whether they are called George Bush, Osama Bin Laden or Hitler who warned against the evil of the Jews. The principle is the same.
The moment we see the world in black and white we start to simplify. Our perception becomes coloured and distorted and all we try to do is to put people or things in one of either box: 'good or evil'.
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The third and fourth noble truth about the end of all suffering
 
Dear reader,
 
Moving on from the last blog to the third and fourth noble truth, we learn to understand how to end all suffering in our lives.
 
The cessation of dukkha (third noble truth)
 
Not much needs to be said about this. What Buddha taught here was that we can end attachement and craving and thus become free from suffering.
 
 
The path that leads to the end of dhukkha (the fourth noble truth)
 
So how can we end all suffering in our lives? By not attaching and craving. More precise, by not giving birth to the self that attaches and craves. Buddha said things, if we translate it to English, that can be translated with: "the cessation of the world" or "the cessation of existence". Many people have misinterpreted this as, "liberation from existence or any worldly things or pleasures is the only thing that can rid us of suffering." This is religious, metaphoric language that (like the language Jezus used) should not be taken literally. So what the Buddha meant with the cessation of existence is the cessation of the existence of the attaching or craving self.
 
So how do we do that? The shortcut that Buddha taught, but this is not easy to understand without extensive meditation practice, is that when we see that the self is an illusion ("anatta" is the Pali word for non-self) we instantly get rid of all suffering and become enlightened. This is food for another blog about self and ego, so I leave it at this now.
 
In the fourth noble truth the Buddha taught about the  Noble Eightfold Path that is. The eight aspects of the path can be divided in three groups as follows:
Wisdom (paññā in Pali)
1. right view or right understanding (understanding the four noble truths)
2. right intention or right thought
Moral conduct (sīla in Pali)
3. right speech (we do not lie or speak bad about or to other people)
4. right action (abstain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and taking intoxicants)
5. right livelihood (we earn our bread in a morally good way)
Mental discipline (samādhi in Pali)
6. right effort
7. right mindfulness (we try to be mindful with whatever we do)
8. right concentration (we purify the mind and train it to be still and clear)
The last two are closely linked with meditation.
 
If we walk this path we will rid ourselves of craving and attachment, lead a happy and morally good life and be free from suffering. It is easy to write a book about the noble eightfold path alone, so I just leave it as this now.
 
Finally, it is good to understand that Buddhism is not a believe system, not a theory and not a philosophy. It is a religion, but I like to see it as an experiential science. All the above is simply a result from looking with a clear and still mind how suffering arises. It is my experiences that the four noble truths are indeed true and for me just noticing that whenever suffering or any form of dis-pleasure arises, there is indeed craving or attachment, already has made a difference to make my life more pleasant. So I would say, don't agree, don't disagree, don't judge after reading this. Just try it out for yourself and see for yourself what is true. That is the way of Buddhism.
 
All the best,
 
Jeroen
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The Buddha's teachings on Dukkha: About suffering and the end of all suffering
 
Dear reader,
 
The four noble truths
 
A few days ago I wrote a reaction on a weblog about the Buddha's teachings on dhukkha, generally translated by suffering. With all my writing about Buddhism on jeroensjourney (click here), I never really fully explained this important teaching.  In the four noble truths Buddha explained what suffering was and how to end it.
 
The four noble truths are in short:
 
1. The nature of dhukkha
2. The cause of dhukkha
3. The cessation of dhukkha
4. The path that leads to the cessation of dhukkha (the end of all suffering).
 
 
What is dukkha or suffering?  
 
For me dukkha, simply means any unpleasant emotion. From a slight impatience or irritation, to anger, rage, fear, jealousy, sadness, worry or hatred. All these, and more, are what makes us suffer in life. Buddha said it as follows:
Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, sickness is dukkha, death is dukkha;
union with what is displeasing is dukkha;
separation from what is pleasing is dukkha;
not to get what one wants is dukkha.
I won't go further into this now, but it will become clearer in the following paragraphs.
 
The cause of dhukkha?
 
The cause of dhukkha is ignorance, and the main symptoms of that are attachment and craving. So we suffer because we do not understand the cause of our suffering and do not know how to end this suffering.  
I wrote a blog about attachment on my other weblog, but will explain a bit more here in my own words.
We suffer because we are attached [gehecht] to things, to people to pleasant emotions to sensual pleasures, etc. The problem is that all these things and experiences, all wordly things in Buddhist terms, are impermanent, which means that the don't last. So sooner of later we loose then and then we suffer because we miss what we had. In the Buddha's words impermanence is explained as birth, aging, sickness and death. So a pleasant emotion arises (birth), it lasts for a while (aging), it starts to fade away (sickness) and it ends (death). What the Buddha meant here (in the above text on the first noble truth) when he said 'birth is dhukkha' is the birth of the conscious that identifies with the pleasureable feeling. And that identification, the birth of self in Buddhist terms, is the attachment that leads to suffering.
 
In itself the fact that pleasant experiences and emotions are impermanent does not make us suffer. What makes us suffer is that we attach to them. Some examples.
 
So let's say I really enjoy skiing (which I do). So I go on a skiing holiday and I love it. But I cling to the pleasure of the skiing, so when the holiday ends I dread my days at work or at home and miss the mountains, the sun and the great feeling of the skiing. So I suffer. Dukkha arises.
However, if I just enjoy the skiing, being completely in the here and now when I do it and then, when the holiday ends be completely present in whatever comes next, I won't suffer. No dukkha arises. So in this example I detach from the pleasureable experience,  but that doesn't mean I enjoy it less. Actually it means that I enjoy it more because there is no negative feeling associated with the imminent end of my holiday.
 
Another example about which I wrote a lot already, but I think many people can relate to this is attaching to a relationship. I was so attached to my girlfriend that this not only led to the end of the relationship, but it also brought up a lot of fear about losing her. And then when it ended it indeed was horrible because I was so attached to her, to my dreams and plans with a life with her and more. So a very strong example of how attachment leads to dukkha.
 
Craving is the same thing. We crave something we don't have, so we miss that and we suffer. Whether it is craving for food, for a holiday, a relationship, sex, whatever. Craving leads to dhukkha.
 
I will leave it at this for now. All the best,
 
Jeroen
Lees meer...
Buddha for dummies
 
Dear reader,
 
If you want to read about Buddhism there is lots of information, including my own experience applying Buddhist wisdom in everyday life, you can find on my old weblog. Click here.
 
But as I just put some photos about Buddha's life on my weblog, it might be nice to just provide some basic information here for those who know as little about Buddhism as I did two years ago. So there you are with the story in my own words.
 
Prince Siddharta Gautama
 
Prince Siddharta Gautama was born in 566 BC in the north of what was then India and is now Nepal. At age 29 he left the palace and saw a dead man, an old man a sick man and a beggar. Knowing only the comfortable life in the palace he was shocked by seeing such suffering (and the transience of human life) that he couldn't continue his shielded life in the palace and he decided to leave his wife and child to devote his life to find an answer for life's problems. He then became a bodhisattva or someone who looks for enlightenment in order to help others to find enlightenment.
Prince Siddharta Gautama sees 'suffering'. Wall painting Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai.
 
Becoming a Buddha
 
Prince Siddharta then became an ascetic with the idea that living an ascetic life would be the way to end suffering, but he found out that starving yourself was not the way and he left the ascetics. So neither indulgence in worldly wealth (as he did as a prince), nor living as an ascetic is the way to find enligthenement and happiness in this life. Therefore the Buddhist path is called the 'Middle Way'. Images of a very thin (you can count his ribs) of the Buddha-to-be can be found in temples, showing him meditating after his ascetic years.
 
He then, so says the story, sat down under a Bodhitree (hence the word bodhisattva I guess) and meditated for 7 years and became enlightened or awakened or found nirvana (all the same thing). He then became a Buddha. A Buddha is someone who finds enlightenment and realises what Buddhists call "his or her Buddha nature or Buddhahood". So there is not one Buddha. But the Buddha is the most famous since he started teaching how to find enlightenment in this life and end all suffering. But more than 500 years later Jezus was another Buddha and many other less famous people all over the world achieved Buddhahood.
 
Good, very basic, but this will help to understand some of the pictures you can find in my fotoalbum.
 
All the best to you,
 
Jeroen
 
P.S.: Interesting is Herman Hesse's book Siddharta where the main character is Siddharta who started a life of practice and meditation and then emersed himself in the worldly life to find out that that doesn't make him happy either. Funny is that he meets Gautama, a guru who he really repects, but he does not want to become a follower of Gautama. This can be seen as the Buddha not following a guru (in this example himself) in line with what the Buddha taught: "You have to walk the path yourself, Buddhas only lead the way."
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