I'm no expert on the text or the tradition that follows, but it was the focus of (I believe) a full week of reading and discussion in my Intro to Buddhism college course and I have seen it used countless times by other Western authors and teachers. Yet I've also learned that it is traditionally an obscure text, rarely commented upon or used in teaching. And it has been suggested that our Western love of this sutta stems largely from our rejection of the other (Christianity for most of us).
The real impetus for this post, though, is a recent musing by Amod Lele, over at his wonderful blog Love of All Wisdom. There he describes his acceptance of "one and a half noble truths."
It makes me wonder:
- for Progressive Buddhists (if we so claim that label) - how do we approach such basic teachings as the Four Noble Truths?
- Do we need to accept them as a pretty basic starting point for our practice and understanding?
- Can/should we be skeptical as many suggest we should be toward karma and rebirth?
- Do we accept them with saddha (faith/confidence) for the tradition or our own teachers, or wait until we are fully awakened ourselves before we feel confident in endorsing the possibility of awakening?!
- When is healthy skepticism instead the fetter of doubt?