The four noble truths are the basis of the Buddhist philosophy. They were the first teachings of the Buddha after he achieved enlightenment and were taught more than 2500 years.
The noble truths are:
1. Suffering: life always involves suffering, in obvious and subtle forms.
2. The cause of suffering: the cause of suffering is craving and fundamental ignorance
3. The end of suffering: Suffering can end because our obscurations can be purified and to awaken our minds is always possible
4. The path: by living ethically, practicing meditation and developing wisdom; we can take exactly the same journey to enlightenment and freedom from suffering.
Though these are Buddhist philosophies, their applicability does not require you to be one or even religious. We are all humans and if these helped the author, they can help you too.
In this book the author applies the classic Buddhist wisdom to modern romance and relationships to show that ancient philosophies have timeless wisdom on how to love.
Nowadays we see much heartbreak, resentment, affairs, divorce… and most of the time we ask ourselves why is it hard to make relationships work? Maybe it’s high time we learn from elders. The four noble truths will challenge the expectations you have about dating, sex and romance; liberating you from the habits, traumas and expectations that have been holding back your relationships.
First noble truth: Life is suffering
Problems are everywhere. Misunderstandings happen. The mistake we always make is to think that they are temporary. That if we do something about them then we will have a happy life from there.
We tend to give space to the “if only” thinking. If only we had children, if only my husband had this job, if only my wife could do some sports… at some point you wonder when will this end? The truth is: never. You will, if you have not yet, realize that once one problem is solved another one settles in.
The point is problems are simply not something you can eradicate in your relationship. You will face hardship, you are going to have doubts about the relationship, you will feel disconnected, misunderstood, bored and sad. And that’s okay. It’s part of any loving couple. The advice here is every problem forces us to come together, discuss the issue and find a solution. It’s through resolving problems that we deepen our intimacy.
Second noble truth: the cause for suffering
Now that we know suffering is present and can happen any time, let’s talk about its cause which is “attachment” that derives from expectations we set to relationships.
When you watch movies or see well framed couple pictures, you think and expect that love is all surprise flowers at your office, breakfast in the bed, cuddles here and there,… and though it’s obvious you should not take relationship advice from movies. For instance what movies show are love affairs and these differ from relationships. Love affairs are somewhat self involved because the emphasis is on how this other person makes you feel; whereas relationships on the other hand are more about genuine connection and intimacy with another being, and they don’t always make us feel good. Because we confuse the two, we expect that love affairs make good relationships and that relationships should remain love affairs. Relationships can’t live up to this fairy tale expectation. When romance dies we tend to think that something’s gone wrong. But it hasn’t. We should accept that no relationship is without struggles.
Another cause of dissatisfaction is attachment to feelings, to experiences,… we should learn to be unattached. And that does not mean to be emotionless or unloving; it simply means that when it’s time to say goodbye to something, you don’t resist, you let it go gracefully.
There’s another form of attachment known as the blame game where we tend to look for the causes behind our suffering and this serves to make us feel better and frequently it’s our loved ones that get the brunt for this reasoning. And sure, sometimes our loved ones do cause us to feel bad but a lot of the time, they are just an easy target. It’s to blame the person opposite you when the real reason might be a combination of past experiences, hormonal chaos… just you.
One advice: try not to find meaning in your feelings so much. Instead just feel.
Third noble truth: The end of suffering
From time to time relationships afford some degree of comfort, security and happiness. Other times they make you feel uncomfortable and upset. Now I like you, now I don’t; now I feel close to you, now I feel shunned,.. The way lovers feel about each other is constantly shifting in unpredictable ways. None of this is meant to dissuade you from having a relationship.
The third truth tells us that true love is meeting the instabilities together. In other words love is willingness to meet all these challenges with another being for no other reason other than the sheer benefit of companionship.
Fourth noble truth: the path
As we have seen in the first three noble truths it’s possible to end sufferings in relationships. But it’s one thing to learn and another thing to practice what we learn. The fourth truth says of a way to transcend relationship suffering which is of building intimacy between you and your loved one.
You will never be fully prepared or ready for the challenges a relationship will throw at you but the closer you are with your partner the easier it will be to tackle them.
One way to practice intimate relationships is through great communication. There are many techniques of communication but the greatest one is the practice of meditative conversation.
Initiate a meditation habit whether alone or with a partner. It can be as simple as 10 minutes before breakfast in the morning or before sleeping at night. Simply allow your partner’s qualities to rest in your mind.
Now here you go. This mindful approach toward love will help you open your heart fearlessly, deepen communications with your partner, increase your compassion and resilience, and lead you toward a path of true happiness.