For decades now, I’ve been reviewing Buddha’s Four Noble Truths while doing my daily yoga headstand. Understanding these looks easy; they are short, simple, and straightforward. Even so, I plumb deeper intuitive meaning from them as the years pass. For example, some years ago the second truth, “The illusion of self originates and manifests itself in a cleaving to things” finally sunk in — emotionally! While I’ve always understood this intellectually, I never felt it ‘in my bones’ until then. All at once I viscerally understood — knew — that everything I held to be important in life was also propping up my “illusion of self” – ego. It appears that there is ‘understanding’, and then there is understanding.
I’ve always felt that Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and the core teachings of all religions offered enough life guidance to ‘chew on’. Having actions speak louder than words is the challenge of a lifetime. Yet millions of words are written and spoken on core teachings. I see this as symptomatic of our lack of visceral understanding — intuitive knowing. Because we can’t walk the walk, we talk the talk even more. I suppose this is true of most everything spoken or written. We are attempting to convince and remind ourselves. I know I am!
Does this mean my writing is symptomatic of my lack of visceral understanding? Perhaps, for the odd thing is that we don’t know that we lack visceral understanding until we experience visceral understanding. Such epiphanies illuminate what we only think we know. It could all be a house of mirrors, one ‘revelation’ replacing another until the brain drops dead. That fits the biological model of the hunter-gatherer: nature drives us to keep looking for something to ‘chew on’. What’s more, gossiping about our most recent ‘revelation’ is an essential and natural way for humans to interact socially.
I must add that seeing symptoms doesn’t actually illuminate true causes. Seeing matters as simply symptomatic of ‘something deeper’ tells us that there is more here than meets the eye… and perhaps the visceral realm as well.