If Buddha were alive today, how would he answer the question…How should one live? What is right? Who is to say what is right? How do we know what we are doing is right? These are all questions that allude to how should one live? Different people have different opinions on this area. His theory is one way to answer the question.
Buddha has four noble truths. These four noble truths are suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering.
If you go through all four of these truths, you will live a right life. Suffering, according to him, is anything that doesn't cause pleasure. Anytime you do not get what you want, it is suffering. Being born is suffering. In his theory, isn't practically everything we do then suffering? He defines suffering with the five aggregates of grasping.
They are the aggregates of grasping that is form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. I don't agree with him in any of this. I don't think suffering is caused by any of this. This is all life. I don't think that we are suffering all of this time. My definition of suffering would be anything that causes any pain, not anything that doesn't cause pleasure. There is a huge difference between the two. With him, you are either suffering or in pleasure. I think that there is a middle ground. There are many times when people are not suffering and also not feeling pleasure.
The origin of suffering, according to Buddha, is craving. Craving comes from anything that is agreeable and pleasurable. Sights, sounds, mental pictures, etc. are all agreeable and pleasurable therefore they all cause craving. Whenever we think of any of this, cravings arise.
This is where suffering comes from. This is true to a point. Craving is what causes suffering. Craving comes from pleasurable things. That means that pleasurable things cause suffering. People want what they don't have. These we think are pleasurable things.
We suffer from not getting what we want. When a baby wants a cookie and doesn't get it, he is suffering. It was not getting the cookie that caused the suffering. It was the craving for the cookie that caused his suffering. Buddha was right on the money when he said that craving is what causes suffering.
What is the stopping of suffering? If we want to stop suffering, we have got to start at the beginning. To stop suffering, we have to stop craving. We have to totally get away from it. Simple as that…. It's true. If we want to stop suffering, we have to stop ourselves from craving. This is the third noble truth. May sound easy to do, but in the fourth noble truth, we learn it is not as easy as we think.
The fourth noble truth may sound as simple as a commercial. Stop all your suffering in just eight easy steps!! As we journey through these eight easy steps, we find them to not be as simple as we think. The first is Right View. Right View is knowing that we suffer and what suffering is. It knows that we can stop suffering. Step one is always the easiest. The second is Right Thought. Right Thought is the thought of harmlessness. That means we have to stop thinking about bad for other people. No more thinking about killing the teacher who gave you a pop quiz the day you forgot your notebook at home. This second stop in the eight fold path is not quite as easy as the first. I think that as people, we generally feel jealousy over other people. It is this jealously that leads us to ill thoughts of people. It is hard to stop. It comes with feeling good about yourself. Next, Right Speech…. Right Speech is no more lying, slander, or harsh speech. In our society, we learn that doing all this is ok. We learn from our parents that telling one "itty, bitty white lie" never hurt anybody. We see in politics that slandering someone is o.k. To stop all this, we'd have to start with a whole new generation and teach them that this is wrong to do. It's hard when you find out someone is talking bad about you to not do the same. In Buddha's theory, this isn't allowed. The nest is Right Action. Right Action is not taking life, not stealing, and no sexual misconduct. This is not so hard. Many people in our society can't do it, but many are. Many people actually live this way. The fifth step is Right Livelihood. This is simply put giving up wrong livelihood and keeping himself by right livelihood. People can surely handle doing this. Right Effort is making an effort to grow. It is bringing up an effort to stop doing what is wrong. I think people do this most of the time. People are generally good. They make and effort to do what they feel is good. They try not to do evil things. In my opinion, this is what people are already doing.
Right Mindfulness is thinking of mind as mind, feelings as feeling, etc. People tend to think of their thoughts as what’s so. To be in Right Mindfulness, we have to put things aside and think of what is actually so. We have to stop making a story about things. An example of this is if you see a man with a broken arm. People tend to make up a story about this. He was a mountain climber and he fell while climbing Mt. Everest. It's just a man with a broken arm. Nothing more, nothing less. I may be totally off on that one, but that's what I think Right Mindfulness is. Lastly, we have Right Concentration. Right Concentration occurs after man has detached himself from craving and unwholesome mental states, he can concentrate on the first Jhana. Once he has inner tranquility, he has reached the second Jhana. When he gives up delight and is mindful and clearly aware, he is in the third Jhana. He gives up pleasure and suffering. He gives up gladness and sadness. He is now in the fourth Jhana. This is Right Concentration. With all these, man puts a stop to suffering. Back to the question at hand…. If Buddha were alive right now, how would he say one should live? I think that if he were alive, he'd take our whole society into consideration when answering the question. I think he'd say that people should be kind to one another and not cause harm. We should live by established good morals. We should be happy with what we have. Maybe not stop every bad thing we say or think about or do, but try to limit ourselves. I think that these are all things that Buddha might say. Most important, I think he'd say "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."