Saturday, January 10, 2015

On the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism

Lately I've been reading up on Buddhism for a chapter of my novel, and came across an interesting idea related to the so-called 2nd Noble Truth. 

"A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn." 

Now, reading religion first as a fountain of myth and metaphor, I am considering this notion of rebirth as something spiritual, not literal. That is, we are symbolically reborn multiple times over, in the course of a typical lifetime. 

Forgetfulness may actually be a sign of having been reborn. Meaning that between every significant stage in our existence there is usually a gap or hiatus of awareness that naturally thwarts our understanding of the before and after, not to mention the crisis in between.

Those 'rebirths' are painful, in the sense of being the effects of extreme psychic and physical change. But -- and here is the profundity in the matter -- we can mitigate our suffering by properly reflecting on these milestones as they occur as well as by not manufacturing any gratuitous ones. In other words, being 'reborn' fewer times through less futile wanting and craving. 

So I imagine a continuum of consciousness with fewer dramatic peaks and valleys.