From Ignorance to Nirvana: the Fundamental Teaching of the Buddha

Happy day to you, folks!
I hope you’re well today and having a strong practice day so far.
Today I’d like to offer you a passage from the introduction to the Dhammapada (an ancient Buddhist text), by Eknath Easwaran, which I’ve been reading from in the mornings after meditation. This text will be the subject of our virtual meditation and discussion group this evening. If you’d like to participate in the virtual meditations in the morning, or in Thursday and Sunday groups, just let me know and I’ll provide you with the information you’ll need to participate.
Here’s the passage!
“The first link in the chain of suffering is ignorance. Instead of seeing life as flux, we insist on seeing what we want it to be, a collection of things and experiences with the power to satisfy. Instead of seeing our personality as it is–an impermanent process–we cling to what we want it to be, something real and separate and permanent. From this root ignorance arises trishna, the insistent craving for personal satisfaction. From trishna comes dukkha, the frustration and suffering that are the human condition.
We are trying to get from life something that is not there, trying to find some experience that will last. And what we are trying to hold on with isn’t there either. We want to gratify a process with a process. The ego cannot be satisfied, and the more we try, the more we suffer.
But the frustration of this grasping, because it derives from ignorance, is not real. It is a shadow which can be dispelled by seeing life is a really is. When we see life as it really is, as self-will dies, we awaken to our real nature. Then personal sorrow comes to an end.
What is this real nature? Here the Buddha remains silent. He comes to us to point the way, to show a path, but he steadfastly refuses to limit with words what we will find.
Yet he does tell us that there is more to life than flux and the mechanical working out of karma. ‘There is something unborn, unbecome, not made and not compounded. If there were not, there would be no means of escape from what is born, become, made, and compounded.’ In the limitless sea of samsara, in the midst of change, there’s an island, a farther shore, a realm of being that is utterly beyond the transient world in which we live: nirvana.
When the mind is stilled, the appearance of change and separateness vanishes and Nirvana remains….”
Ah, so clear and good, isn’t it? Join us tonight for the discussion if you’d like!
In peace,