“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
If the First Noble Truth is “life means suffering” then how do we get to the Fourth Noble Truth “the path to the end of suffering?”
Life in this 21st Century has become a series of stresses that seem designed to perpetuate our suffering. Many of us work two jobs to make ends meet, families require two incomes to afford the strangers that raise their children, unemployment rates are sky-high, there is the threat of an increased retirement age, our children’s future might be a welfare state or a new third world, and we live life hand to mouth and paycheck to paycheck.
The answer might be a simple as going back to basics. Sitting back and smelling the coffee. Do you ever ask yourself, “Do I really need that new TV?” or “Do I have time to drive through the McDonalds and eat in the car on the way to work?” or “Should I stay up and watch Leno or should I get a good night of sleep for the morrow?” or “Should I have another beer before I go home?” If you have to ask yourself any of these questions, then you probably already know that the answer is no.
The path to the end of suffering seems to be simple. Surround yourself with good people. Consume less. Conserve more. Donate as much of your time as you can, especially if you’re donating it to your family or the ones you love. Cook your meals. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Exercise. Be kind. Do good things. Make another person happy. Smile. You will be happier, less stressed out, less likely to suffer.