31 Oct
Posted in: Books
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Four Noble Tasks

I’m really loving Stephen Batchelor‘s new book, After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age. (I quickly downloaded it and started reading right after watching a live video broadcast yesterday of him with John Peacock and Marc Akincano Weber announcing the opening of their new Bodhi Institute — in partnership with Christine Feldman — in England.)

I’ve read many of Batchelor’s previous books — Confessions of A Buddhist Atheist and Buddhism Without Beliefs being two of my favorites. So far, the material in this one is not especially new, but the foundation for the secular perspective is much deeper and more carefully articulated here.

I especially like his reframing of the classic Four Noble Truths into the Four Noble Tasks. (Something he’s been talking about for many years, using a variety of different ways to articulate this understanding.)

Here’s my take on these Noble Four:

1. (There is suffering.) The first task is to understand its nature.

2. (The cause of suffering is the thirst for things to be different than they are.) The second task is to let go of it.

3. (There is an end to suffering.) The third task is to experience the peace that comes with letting go.

4. (There is a path that leads to the end of suffering.) The fourth task is to practice an integrated way of life that allows for this letting go.

Here they are in Stephen’s language:

1. Embrace life.

2. Let go of what arises.

3. See its ceasing.

4. Act! 

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