White Heron Sangha

A Brief Overview of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path


Their Application to Daily Life

by Rosemary Donnell


By now most of you have received the announcement about a new class series coming this fall. The class starts September 5 and will meet for six consecutive Thursdays at the White Heron Sangha Meditation Center, with the last class on October 10. The title of the class, “A Brief Overview of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path and Their Application to Daily Life,” may seem to be overly long, but it points to something quite important.

As the announcement indicated, I’ve been teaching on these subjects since 1997. Every time I taught the old Basic Buddhism class, or now teach the Core Buddhism class, I see something new, something deeper. Many years ago I heard a well-known teacher tell this story: She said that only one or two years after she started on the Path of the Buddha, and well before she became a teacher, she remembered thinking, “When do we get to the ‘secret teachings?’” Her point was that these basic teachings initially could seem deceptively simple, but, in reality, they are very deep. You literally can spend your entire life working with these teachings.

Consequently, last June when I gave a short talk at Sangha on Theravada Buddhism, I declined to cover the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path other than to mention they are the basic teachings of Theravada Buddhism. My concern was that too short a presentation of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path could reinforce the false perception that these truths are simple and easy.

Many new members have signed up during the last year and they obviously can’t all fit into my living room. As much as I treasure teaching the very small Core Buddhism classes at my home, we realized there was a need to have a brief introduction class to the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path that was open to the public. Hence this is a class that doesn’t require registration or attendance of all six classes. (Attending every class is, however, encouraged.) I will have a class outline suitable for some notes; so if you do attend please bring a pen or pencil.

People are asking if this class will be a regularly taught class? I don’t know. This is definitely an experiment, so the best answer is “We will see how it goes.” People are also asking if the Core Buddhism class will still be offered? I do intend to continue to teach the Core Buddhism class probably in January/February. Since it is in my home, that class will continue to not be announced to the public. If you want to be notified of when the Core Buddhism class will be taught, please e-mail me at rtdonnell@sbcglobal.net and I will get you on the notification list. I send out the notification approximately one month before the class is scheduled to begin. If you have questions about either of these classes, please e-mail me or phone me at 805-772-4580.

Next article - Fall 2019

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