Homework Questions for EBP (with the answers in red) Module 1: Buddha and His Teachings Homework #1: The first two Noble Truths [Note: your answers do not have to be exactly the same, word for word, as those written below, as long as you get the essential meaning.] 1. Give two benefits of getting a good understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Any two of the following three: An understanding of the essential message of the Buddha’s teachings A framework in which we can insert all other Buddhist teachings we learn A basis for our practice of Buddhism, so we can at least take the first few steps. (Those are the points mentioned in the notes, but you may have thought of others, based on your own experience!) 2. Why did the Buddha teach the truth of suffering first, before the truth of the origin of suffering? The order in which the four truths are explained is not according to the way they occur, but the way they are realized: we first recognize true sufferings, and this leads us to develop a strong wish to be free from them. We then investigate the causes of these sufferings and come to understand that they are the result of contaminated karma and afflictions, true origins. Then we will be motivated to seek a way to become free from these. 3. What is the second of the three phases with respect to the truth of suffering, i.e. what did the Buddha say should be done/practiced with respect to suffering? He explained that suffering needs to be understood, or known. 4. List the eight types of suffering. 1. birth 2. aging 3. sickness 4. death 5. encountering the unpleasant 6. separating from the pleasant 7. not getting what one desires 8. the five appropriated aggregates 5. List and briefly explain the three types of suffering. The three types of suffering are: 1. Suffering of suffering – this includes unpleasant experiences that everyone immediately recognizes as painful. 2. Suffering of change – pleasant experiences that do not last, e.g. eating, sitting down, etc. They appear pleasant because they involve relief from previous unpleasant experiences (being hungry, having tired legs, etc.) but are not true, long-lasting pleasure; in fact, they turn into suffering if we continue to experience them. 3. Pervasive suffering – our contaminated aggregates, which come into existence due to karma and afflictions. Things that arise from karma and afflictions are in the nature of suffering; they are always connected with karma and afflictions and give rise to still more karma, afflictions, and suffering. 6. List the four aspects of the truth of suffering. 1. impermanence 2. suffering 3. emptiness 4. selflessness 7. In the Sutta of Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma, what did the Buddha say was the origin of suffering, and what should be done/practiced with respect to it? He said that the origin of suffering is craving, and that it is to be abandoned. 8. What does the Tibetan tradition (e.g. the Lam Rim) say is the origin of suffering? Is there any contradiction between this explanation and that of the above-mentioned Sutta? The Tibetan tradition says that the origin of suffering is ignorance. There is no contradiction with the Sutta because ignorance is the cause of craving. The Dalai Lama says that ignorance is the root cause of suffering, and craving is the immediate cause. 9. What are the two main kinds of ignorance explained in the context of the Four Noble Truths? 1. Ignorance of karma/the law of cause and effect. 2. Ignorance of the true nature of things. 10. Give a brief explanation of how suffering—for example, taking birth in an unfortunate realm of existence—comes into existence in dependence on the origins of suffering, according to the Tibetan tradition/the Lam Rim. Ignorance causes us to see everything—ourself, others, things in the world, etc.—in a wrong way: as inherently existent. This gives rise to disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, etc. Then, under the influence of these disturbing emotions, we sometimes do unskilful actions such as killing, etc. and thus we create non-virtuous karma. Imprints of these actions are left on our mind-stream, and if they are not purified, they will ripen in the future and bring about suffering, such as taking birth in an unfortunate realm.