Justin Whitaker makes an important point about my Noble Truths post: “I have to laugh, thinking of the Buddha as a ‘mostly-suffering-free’ spiritual ideal instead of the traditional ‘fully awakened one.'”
Justin’s quite right that what I present in that post looks like a rather washed-out version of Buddhist tradition, “a bit dour.” I think the title “One and a half noble truths” effectively acknowledges that I don’t claim the view to be traditional Buddhism. I agree that it doesn’t provide the kind of excitement available in the Third Noble Truth’s promise of a life without suffering.
But I don’t make the claim that one and a half of the truths are right on the grounds that it will motivate people to practice; I make the claim on the grounds that it’s true. Amicus Buddha, sed magis amica veritas. If it’s not Buddhist, well, that’s a big reason I don’t call myself a Buddhist.
And if people don’t get motivated? If they don’t do the hard work the path requires, because the diminution (as opposed to elimination) of suffering is not enough of a motivator? Well, then the questions get tougher. Continue reading