To celebrate the 2001 (Metal Serpent Year) Full Moon of Saga Dawa Düchen (Tib. ས་ག་ཟླ་བ་དུས་ཆེན་) on the 15th day of the fourth Tibetan lunar month, marking Buddha Shakyamuni’s Enlightenment (at the age of 35 at Bodhgaya) and Parinirvana (at Kushinagara), Ringu Tulku was asked to teach on The Four Noble Truths at Kagyu Samye Ling.
Every teaching that the Buddha ever gave is included within The Four Noble Truths:
1. The Noble Truth of Suffering -that we have to recognise and understand. There is a problem, and there is no use in denying it.
2. The Truth of the Causes of Suffering. This is the main discovery and teaching of the Buddha: kleishas (afflictive or disturbing emotions/mind poisons) and karma (our habitual tendencies).
3. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. Is it possible to do something about this mistaken way of seeing; this ignorant, dualistic way of seeing? There is nothing basically wrong in us. It is just a misunderstanding. This is the Buddha’s main experience. The wisdom of seeing things as they really are. We don’t need to become something else. That is the experience of all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhats.
4. The Truth of The Path of Cessation of Suffering. What is to be done? What should we do? These are the methods that we can use to work on ourselves to transform our problems: the Eightfold Path; or The Three Trainings in Discipline, Wisdom and Meditation (as detailed and explained in Jamgon Kongtrul’s Treasury of Knowledge).
The problem is within us. The solution is also within us. We can change things from within. That’s it.
Questions and Answers
Q. 48:58 The metaphor about mistaking the rope for a snake is well known. What do we do when we mistake a snake for a rope?!?
Q. 50:24 Even the rope is still an illusion? Are we still ignorant when we see the rope as a rope?
Q.51:24 How much of what we do is dependent on past karma, and how much on free choice or volition?
Q. 58:19 You previously said that we assume that we are separate. Who assumes, that the perceptions become a self?
Q. 1:04:12 You talked about the three types of suffering. What is the third?
Q. 1:04:44 I would like to ask about collective karma. I’ve experienced many people who don’t seem to care about other people. How can we change collective karma?
Q. 1:06:55 I’ve heard the story that Buddha comes back to Earth, one day a year, somewhere in the Himalayas. Have you heard this story?
Q. 1:08:55 If the concept of the self is a product of the five aggregates, when the body dies, form, feeling and perception surely go? What manifests in the next life as a continuum?
Q. 1:18:03 The Buddha asked us to question, not just accept. It’s difficult to experience concepts such as hell realms. Should we just accept things on the basis of faith, or belief?
Thangka painting of Shakyamuni Buddha by Ringu Tulku’s brother, Salga.
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