Ends are so conclusive. You know when something ends – a job, a relationship, or a contract. Ends are very definitive. Someone dies only once, at a very specific time, hopefully when they are very old.
Beginnings, however, are not so definitive. They are far more wholesome and far more messy. Relationships begin out of a plethora of different factors; the first day on a job feels like a flurry. They are a result of a conglomeration of different factors, all coming together at the right time and the right place.
Sadly, we tend to focus on the end more than the beginnings. We cling to the way things have been and crave for a world where nothing ends – relationships, jobs, lives – where nothing changes. However, the Universe doesn’t listen to us: it just goes on and does it own thing.
The Buddha taught that one of the three truths of reality is anicca, or change. Everything changes. On a very small scale, the stoplight will eventually turn green, we will eventually get to our destination, we may even switch jobs. On a far larger scale, we may move between states or countries, we may get in an accident, our parents will die.
When we cling to the idea that an end will never come, we will experience dukkha – unpleasantness, even suffering. Sometimes that dukkha is frustration, sometimes it is jealousy, sometimes it is sorrow and grief. This is the Buddha’s Second Noble Truth: our craving and desires cause us to experience dukkha. We want the “end” to never come.
Or sometimes, we want the “end” to come as quick as possible. Our craving comes in two forms: wanting things to change and wantings things not to change. Sometimes we want our boss to just go away, our job to end, the stoplight to turn green, the person on the highway never to cut us off again, never experience jealousy. Other times, we don’t want our parents to die.
At a very basic level, the solution to our dukkha, our suffering, our grief, rage, frustration, jealousy, hate, desire, sadness, melancholy, depression, anxiety, is to let go. Stop craving and our dukkha will cease (that’s the Buddha’s 3rd Noble Truth).
But HOW? We find ourselves in so many situations daily where we suffer. They are infinite: sometimes it’s from other people, from places, even from ourselves. The various sources of why we experience dukkha however is negligible; there is a very simple solution for every source.
Become aware that we don’t know what life has in store for us next. Become mindful of our actions now as they will affect our future. Concentrate and remind yourself that this “end” – of a job, a relationship, a family member dying – is simply one step in the long journey of life. It is a new beginning on a new journey, one of the many factors that create new beginnings.
The Buddha taught that the way to cease our craving is through the Noble Eightfold Path:
At it’s very core, the Eightfold Path is about becoming aware of reality, accepting that change (anicca) is inevitable, and being kind to ourselves and other sentient beings in the process.
We are hosting a Noble Eightfold Path Study Group from May 29th to July 24th at 6:00 to 7:00pm. It is a in-depth 9 week study of the Eightfold Path and how we can transform our thinking and actions to work with ends, beginnings, and everything in between. Each week studies a different component of the path with some incorporation of most of the Buddha’s teachings.
If you are interested, please contact Morgan Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP to the class by May 22nd.