Buddhism has evolved in its nature since its inception and a religious alternative. Present day Buddhism can be seen as a combination of two schools of thought: The Western School of Thought, does not believe in the supernatural elements associated with the religion; the second being, The Asian School of Thought wherein there is a strong belief foe the supernatural associated with the religion. This article will concentrate on the naturalistic explanations or the western school of thought in Buddhism.
For Buddha, the human predicament revolves around the belief of strong emotions being real. The simple solution that Buddhism gives is how meditation helps you in grasping the real nature of emotions. Here I would personally like to clear the real and concrete are not synonymous in the context of the above mentioned. Buddhism believes that feelings are not real but rather they are the guide to reality also the Buddhist literature holds the view that feelings influence both thought and perception.
Buddha then came with the diagnosis of the human predicament in the form of the four noble truths. The first truth can be called the truth of suffering. Human predicament revolves around suffering, usually the truth is translated as life is suffering but on close observation Buddhist, literature uses a word close to suffering but not exactly suffering. There is a more deep rooted meaning to the singular term. One can understand the same term “Dukha” as a combination of suffering and an unsatisfactory life. Thus, the first noble truth sheds light on the truth of suffering.
The second noble truth is translated as the cause of suffering. There is a clear and simple cause in the mind of Buddha that can be said to be the cause of suffering it is none other than clinging. Clinging is a materialistic need, it can be called as elusive in nature, the impermanence is a characteristic feature. The gratification is usually general. This noble truth also finds ground in modern psychology by the name of Hedonic Treadmill. This truth covers the emotions of anxiety, fear etc.
The third noble truth is good news that says that cessation of suffering can take place if the teachings are followed. Nirvana is said to bring an end to suffering. Nirvana is the achievement of an individual after completing the four noble truths. This can be achieved by following the path of Dharma, path that should be tread. Dharma can be understood as the truth about the way one should live. It emphasizes the pervasiveness in suffering.
The forth noble truth finally dwells into the diagnosis. It is translated into the Eightfold path. It is believed that the eightfold path liberates an individual thus , achieving liberation, the final peace from the human predicament.
The eightfold path is:-
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
The last two points of the eightfold path can be achieved only via meditation, but the form of meditation can be any. The third, fourth and the fifth points of the eightfold path can be seen as points to ethical behavior or virtue.
In my point of view achieving liberation the complete absence of suffering might to farfetched for many of us, yet following the eightfold path can develop the individual into a better human being. An individual who is more at peace with herself/ himself, making eternal peace a rather possibility. To add to the eightfold path might seem to be easy on paper but following it will not be easy. To never harbor, think or speak any negative thought about another human being or thing might in itself seem a huge task in practice. For me, Buddhism gives the right diagnosis for the human predicament.