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Episode 3 Transcript: Gautama Buddha’s Second Truth

Episode 3, 3 December 2014, Gautama Buddha’s Second Truth. [08:23]


Intro: Welcome to Buddhism Guide’s Audio blog.

This Episode: Gautama Buddha’s Second Truth. [00:17]

  • In the First Truth, Gautama Buddha encouraged us to fully understand that there is suffering in every corner of our lives.
  • In his Second Truth, he tells us what causes these sufferings.
  • There is not one cause of our suffering, just as there is not one cause of anything.
  • The cause of suffering people talk about the most is craving.
  • However, in this posting I want to focus on the Three Poisons.
  • The Three Poisons are:
    1. Desire,
    2. Anger and Aversion, and
    3. Unawareness.
  • Let’s look at these mental defilements individually.

1. Desire. [01:05]

  • Our desires are never-ending.
  • Once we have something new, we start wanting something else.
  • Gautama Buddha put it this way:
    • Human desires are endless. It is like the thirst of a man who drinks salt water. He gets no satisfaction and his thirst is only increased.
    • This is because we wrongly believe that material things can make us permanently, and truly happy.
    • But if we investigate, we’ll find that our desires eventually lead us into a feeling of discontentment.
    • There is no problem in desiring things and trying to make our lives comfortable.
    • The problem is clinging and grasping at these desires.
    • We get attached to things and when they break, are stolen, or die; which they inevitably will, we become discontented, unhappy and ill at ease.
    • To break this cycle, we have to see things are they really are:
      • Impermanent.
      • Things come into being when the causes and conditions are correct.
      • Once these causes and conditions change, as they will because they are impermanent, the thing also changes.
  • So, if we understand this we will not become attached to things, which in turn will end that particular type of suffering.

2. Anger and Aversion. [02:37]

  • Aversion is the opposite to attachment,
  • and Anger leads to hatred, discrimination, aggression, and a lack of compassion.
  • Neither are helpful emotions.
  • With desire, we want to cling to objects,
  • but with aversion we do the exact opposite.
    • We spend all out time and energy trying to push the thing away we don’t like.
    • As with desire, we just need to let go.
    • Not hold onto the aversion. Don’t engage with it, hold it or repress it.
    • Simply acknowledge you have an aversion, and then, let it go.
    • If we do not acknowledge our aversions we are just falling in to denial,
    • And this again, is not a good state of mind.
    • So just watch the aversion rise and fall, do not engage it, just work at letting it go.
  • Some say that anger is natural and should be expressed at all costs.
    • This is because most people only see two ways of dealing with anger.
    • That is:
      1. Express, or
      2. Repress.
    • Both are unhealthy.
      • If you express it, it can lead to violence, hatred, and people’s feelings being hurt.
      • Or even worse, if you are the leader of a country, it can lead to war and genocide.
      • If you repress it you are just storing up trouble for the future.
      • You may be able to keep it down for some time, but eventually it will surface and may come back more violent and hurtful.
      • Anger is such a destructive emotion, because we engage with it, and let it take control of us.
  • So, Gautama Buddha had a different idea.
    • He advised us to look at the anger and see where it comes from.
    • It is not to be dealt with, but observed.
    • If we do this we will see that it stems from our exaggerating the negative qualities of someone, or
    • Projecting negative qualities that are not actually there onto someone or something.
    • One of the best ways of counteracting anger is patience.
    • We should not react straightaway.
    • We should count to ten and spend some time reflecting on the situation.
    • This will help us calm down and see things more rationally.
    • Of course, this is not a simple thing to do when one is wrapped up in the moment.
    • So, the best thing to do is at the end of the day look back at when you became angry.
    • See how you could have acted more calmly, and imagine the outcome.
    • Slowly, you will learn not to react instantly, but to first reflect.

3. Unawareness. [05:41]

  • Here unawareness means: lack of understanding of the true nature of things.
  • Which leads us to have wrong views.
  • In the Flower Garland Sutra, Gautama Buddha said:
    • Because of their unawareness, people are always thinking wrong thoughts and always losing the right viewpoint,
    • and, clinging to their egos, they take the wrong actions.
    • As a result, they become attached to a delusive existence.
    • This is an extremely important point, because if you have a wrong view, it will lead you onto a wrong path and you will get a wrong outcome.
    • In Buddhism, we are looking for freedom, or liberation from suffering, discontentment and the unease that runs throughout our lives.
    • But if we do not understand what is causing our suffering, how do we eliminate it?
  • So, unawareness means:
    • a lack of knowledge; and we have all been in that position.
    • It can take on many forms.
    • If you do not understand a different person’s culture, and discriminate against them,
    • if you do not have education and someone fools you into giving up your life’s savings,
    • if you do not understand what someone was saying and you get angry with them,
    • if you sacrifice animals to a god so as to obtain wealth or good crops, or
    • if you blindly follow a religious practice.
  • The way out of unawareness is to gain knowledge, to ask questions, so as to clear up any doubt, and then meditate on this knowledge.
  • This will turn your knowledge into wisdom.
  • Knowledge is learnt but wisdom transcends knowledge and becomes the way you are, the way you act, your very essence.
  • It is the true understanding, not something stemming from your intellect.
  • These Three Poisons need to be understood, and then abandoned.
  • Gautama Buddha stated:
    • That it is not enough just to understand the Three Poisons,
    • He said, until we abandon them, they will keep returning.

Outro. [08:04]

  • You can find more information about this subject in Karma Yeshe Rabgye’s books at
    1. The best way to catch a snake – A Practical Guide to the Buddha’s Teachings;
    2. Life’s meandering path – A Secular Approach to Gautama Buddha’s Guide to Living;
    3. Ripples in the stream – A Pragmatic Journey Through Gautama Buddha’s Teachings.
  • They’re available now, from Amazon and Kindle.
  • Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.




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