Buddhism is most commonly recognized as a peaceful and happy religion, so it might come as a surprise to you what the first recognized Noble Truth is.
To live, is to suffer.
Meaning that simply by being here and experiencing the things that we experience as humans – we will experience suffering. It may seem pessimistic and negative in nature but really all that it means is that there cannot be light without darkness.
No good without the bad.
Therefore, the good of life and all that we enjoy must bring with it suffering and the darker times.
The second noble truth is what I want to focus on right now, and it will explain where the suffering you experience will come from.
The second noble truth acknowledges attachment as the main factor for suffering. To avoid suffering in our lives we must first understand where it comes from and why we experience it.
According to Buddha, the basic cause of suffering is “the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)” – zenlightenment.net
All of us hold desire for something at any given time, and by this point in your life you may have already learned that not all of our desires can be fulfilled. Each time your stomach growls with hunger you might not be able to satisfy it, which will bring you discomfort and minor suffering.
The same is true for people who are incredibly ambitious and set out to achieve large goals. They may become so attached to the desire of achieving the goal, that any moment spent with that goal unachieved will leave them suffering at almost all times.
It can be confusing to hear these words from a source that talks about hard work and achieving goals so much, but don’t think of this as me telling you to stop desiring anything and everything – I won’t do that myself and I would never suggest you do that.
The purpose of me putting this together is simply to relay the message to you that 1; to live is to suffer, and 2; desire is the root of suffering.
The other problem pointed out by Buddha is that denying desire is like denying life itself. A person has to rise above attachments and for that, he need not deprive himself. The problem arises when he does not know where to put an end to his desires. And when he yields into his desires, he becomes a slave to them.
Ever since I began this site – almost exactly a year ago – I have experienced waves of emotions pertaining to the content I am creating. One day I put out what I feel is some of my best work, and maybe in that same week I put out some of my worst.
Sometimes I will hit a stride and post consistently solid content for a week or two, and then not even log back in for a month or two.
It is confusing to me why this is the case, but I think I am starting to figure it out. Before I say anything else I want to disclaim that I know the work I put out is nowhere near spectacular, but at the same time, everything is subjective.
To me – my best work is work that is outlined ahead of time, created, revised, and then published. I will admit, I do not do this on every post. A handful of the posts on here are a case where I sit down with a thought in my head or motivation from something else I have seen, I type, I publish.
I know that doing it this way does not necessarily create my best work. It often bothers me because I really do prefer to do things right the first time, and put nothing but my best out on display. This is all a learning experience though.
A goal of mine is to one day be able to make a decent living just off of my writing, and I know that in the very beginning stages of the process – like I am in now – the content I create is not going to be as good as I want it to be. The only way to get to that point is to actually do something. Even if it isn’t great.
It is common knowledge that every greatest in the world was once a beginner. It is said that Michael Jordan even failed to make a basketball team after tryouts one year. It is said that Thomas Edison attempted the lightbulb close to 1,000 times before he was successful.
I view my writing, and this stage of my writing career, as exactly that. 1,000 god awful lightbulbs. If I stop at lightbulb #60, how will I ever reach my potential as a writer? This is where the title of this post comes in.
It is so much better to do something poorly, a handful of times, than to sit and do nothing at all. Writing a few times a week (which I need to up, by the way) is molding my style and my ability in a way that doing nothing could never. Obviously.
Something else I really want to touch on in a later article is Impostor Syndrome. Not today though.
The following is penned from the book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. I recently reread the book and this is one of my favorite sections from it.
Here you go –
It is quite easy to get approval if we ask enough people, or if we ask those who are likely to tell us exactly what we wish to hear.
The likelihood is that most will tell us nice things rather than be too critical. Also, we as humans have a tendency to mute out the bad that comes from others, and only hear the good. Selective hearing some could say.
So if you have produced a pleasantly acceptable piece of work, you will have proved to yourself that it is good because others will say so.
The work you have done is probably okay, but probably not great.
Instead, if you look at your product with some what is wrong with it glasses on, you are much more likely to get an answer that will help you improve.
Your idea as a whole may even improve.
And yet you are always in the position to reject criticism if you feel it is incorrect.
Arden’s book is stocked full of 1-2 page short essays that each hit you with an incredible truth. The precision of the ideas make it easy to decipher the meaning behind his words.
How does this work?
It is quite simple, really.
Step to the front of your mind. Got it?
Now open the window. Got it?
Shout whatever it is that you first see!
That is writing. Got it?
A week or so ago as I listened to the Joe Rogan Podcast episode that featured Robert Downey Jr (who I have learned refers to himself as Bob), I heard something that has really been sticking with me. The two were on the topic of acting and playing certain roles in movies – when Bob mentioned something that he uses on set to be as good of an actor as he is.
He said that the most important thing to remember on set is not the lines or the placement in the shot. It is not the cues or the movements.
He reminds himself – ‘What is your action?’
In the sense of acting it means what your character is truly doing.
Not just running.. but attempting to escape from a otherworldly being that is chasing after you.
Not just crying..but mourning the loss of a loved one.
Obviously I am not an actor, but this is something that I – and all of you – can bring with us to work, to the house, to family gatherings, to community service, the list is never ending.
If you truly think about what your action is supposed to be, it will make it 10x easier for you as well as make you more effective.
As most of you already know, I am currently a high school teacher. My action every day is not to be a teacher.
My action is to transform the lives of young people. My action is to provide them with the knowledge and the tools they will need to succeed in life.
As an auto mechanic your action is not simply to change a tire. Your action is to make someone’s vehicle work properly and keep them safe when they are using it.
See the difference?
Stop thinking of things in such a literal sense and begin to find the meaning behind what you are doing.
If you find yourself sluggishly making your way through the day at work – remind yourself of your true action.
What is your action?
The bumps and the bruises are part of the game.
You fall down seven times but stand up eight.
With no regret you push on ahead.
You’ll do it for family I said.
Nothing is impossible.
You are unstoppable.
Look inside your mind.
What do you find?
Is there grit?