Since Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts. Pioneered the first mindfulness based stress reduction course back in 1979, secular mindfulness that is mindfulness that's taught with little acknowledgment of its religious roots has exploded in popularity in Western society. With scholarly research supporting positive outcomes associated with practically every area of human experience a growing case can be made on the potential for mindfulness to leave a significant mark on how we live, work, and love. But while the proliferation of mindfulness programs across the globe has enabled the core practices of mindfulness to be disseminated to a much broader group of people who are able to benefit from them. Critics argue that this widespread dissemination has resulted in a watering down of the Buddhist dharma that's at the essence of what makes mindfulness so fundamentally transformative. Now I could spend a lot of time debating in this session the value of secular mindfulness. But what I'd like to do instead is spend the next few lectures focusing our attention on some of the core elements of Buddhist philosophy that tend to get glossed over or lifted out of many of the Western mindfulness classes, and encourage you to consider for yourself what they might offer to your own mindfulness journey. If you take the foundational course a few of these concept might sound familiar to you. But don't skip ahead, these ideas require deep contemplation and exploration and truthfully just hearing about them once probably isn't sufficient. Don't worry, you don't have to become a Buddhist or abdicate your current religious beliefs to appreciate the value of what I'm saying. All I ask is that you stay open and curious and then go see for yourself how it checks out in your own life. I think I'll start by giving a brief overview of what's said to be the very first teaching that the Buddha ever shared with his fellow monks. This teaching is a summary of the insight that Buddha gained on his path to enlightenment. It reflects his experience of both the cause and the remedy for suffering. It's a doctrine called the Four Noble Truths which are kind of a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering that humanity faces. Suffering of a physical kind or a mental nature. We're starting here because well in some ways suffering is where this whole thing starts When you think about why you meditate What's your answer? To alleviate stress, connect with your life, calm the chatter in your mind, these are all reasons for our suffering. The whole reason to meditate is to end that suffering. Through practice we hone the skills and the wisdom needed to thrive in life. The ultimate goal of this work is freedom from suffering, so Buddha's very first bit of dharma gave us a plan for how to do just that. But rather than take you through all the details of this doctrine, I want to share a short parable that I think make the Four Noble Truths a little bit more accessible and relevant. It's called the second arrow and it goes a little bit like this. When touched with the feeling of pain the ordinary uninstructed person sorrows, grieves, and laments beats his breast becomes distraught, so he feels two pains physical and mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and right afterwards were to shoot him was another one so that he'd feel the pain of two arrows. When touched with a feeling of pain ordinary people sorrow and grief. Can you relate to that? Consider the last time something bad happened to you, you fell sick or someone you love passed away or you failed to achieve that promotion you were hoping for. You experienced some event that had an initial pain point. These pain points are the metaphorical first arrow that life sometimes slings at us. Most first arrows are largely outside of our ability to control. Throughout our lives every single one of us is going to be faced with various types of pain and disappointment, sadness, and loss and there's not much that will be able to do about it. Yes, we can live a healthy lifestyle and try our hardest at all that we do, we can even make great sacrifices on behalf of those we love or things that we believe in. But at the end of the day no matter how good we are or how hard we try we can't escape the fact that this life comes with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows and we'll all have our share of each and none of us will escape unscathed. But what of the second arrow? What's that referring to? To me this is where things get a little bit interesting. See what the second arrow represents is, our reaction to the challenging events of our lives. When we're knocked off kilter as is often the case when something bad happens to us we struggle to explain it to ourselves. We feel angst about our misfortune that goes above and beyond our initial pain. Maybe we blame ourselves or other people or we catastrophize the circumstances. We tell ourselves stories, rage about our bad luck or spend precious time wishing for things to be different than they are. Often the ways that we react to our circumstances result in us shooting another painful arrow in our direction, inadvertently compounding our own suffering. This is what the Buddha meant when he described the pain that comes of both arrows. How does this parable relate to the Four Noble Truths. Let's start by comparing the relationship of the first arrow to the First Noble Truth. We know that first arrows are life's unavoidable pain points while the First Noble Truth is because we exist we suffer. Just like in the parable there's an acknowledgment that life is challenging, and that we humans have a complicated relationship with pain. This is both inevitable and universal, it's an inherent quality of the human condition. As is implied with the slinging of the first arrow the first truth really just names that suffering is present. But the Buddha also said that while the presence of suffering is fundamental to existence, if we can understand what causes our suffering we can end it, it doesn't arise out of chance. This brings us to the Second Noble Truth which identifies the cause of suffering. It pauses the idea that the root cause of suffering isn't in the inherent pain that comes from life's inevitable low points though those do often include anguish. But instead what the Buddha says is that the vast majority of our suffering is actually self-imposed. It stems from our reactions and it's driven in large part by a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our experience. A misunderstanding that often leads us to believe that things should be different than they are. Does that sound at all familiar to you? Hopefully you're thinking there's a relationship between the Second Noble Truth and the second arrow. Second arrows are unhelpful reactions that accompany real or imagined. Did I say imagine? I did think about it. Disappointments tragedies, bumps or any other number of synonyms used to describe the time when life hands you lemons. The bottom line for both the Second Noble Truth and the second arrow is that challenge plus pain equals suffering. The next part is the place where the Noble Truths and the arrow parable part ways. This is the extent of the insight that we gain from the parable of the arrow. But what's nice about the third and the fourth truth is that they pick up where the parable leaves off. The first truth identify suffering and its causes while the Third Noble Truth points out that, while we're partly responsible for our own suffering we also hold the key to alleviating it. The Buddhist teaching on the Four Noble Truths are sometimes compared to a physician diagnosing an illness and prescribing a treatment. The first truth tells us what the illness is and the second truth tells us what causes the illness. The third truth holds out hope that there's a cure, it states that an end to suffering is possible. What might that look like. What do we need to do to end our suffering? This is what's outlined in the Fourth Noble Truth, the fourth Truth lays out a path designed to help us wake up see things as they are and develop the necessary skills for thriving in life. It's known as the eightfold path to liberation or the middle way and is grouped into essentially three elements, moral conduct, mental discipline and wisdom. This Path stands at the very heart of Buddhist teaching, it was the discovery of the path that gave the Buddha's own enlightenment a universal significance and an elevated him from the status of a wise benevolent stage to that of a world teacher. Ironically, I'm not going to go in too much depth with the eight steps now, but we've included information in the resource section that provides an overview of this teaching. Make sure that you take the time to check it out the path is really the thing that brings this teaching of the Four Noble Truths to life. The Four Noble Truths are at the essence of Buddhist teaching and while I hope the explanations I offered give you some clarity, fully understanding them can take years or to some even lifetimes. We can always go deeper with the truths in our own lives, I'm covering all the hidden agendas and ulterior motives our ego hides behind. But all we have to do to experience the newfound freedom and our lives, is to have just a basic understanding of the old Zinn proverb, "Pain in life is inevitable, but suffering is optional." This is what the Buddha came to realize during his meditation under the Bodhi tree when he reached enlightenment. Look around in your own life what second arrows do you throw? When do you throw them? Recognizing the part we play in orchestrating our own suffering requires a complete shift of how we view ourselves, each other and the world around us. It's not a quick fix but in my experience, it's a slow consistent awakening that will transform your life if you choose to let it.