India, Long Ago: Gautama Siddhartha sat beneath the Bo tree, and stubbornly refused to rise until he’d reached enlightenment. (He’d tried many other things in that past.) One day, he reached enlightenment. The enlightenment he attained permitted him to express the basic problem of living in Four Observations:
- 1) Our experience of living often consists of suffering. For example, we experience suffering from losses, illness, hunger, and death.
- 2) The suffering comes from our insistent mental reaction against the “bad” thing. That is, we insistently desire to have a thing that was lost, and so we experience suffering. (As an example, you throw away a piece of paper and it is lost but you do not suffer. But you lose the deed to your home and you insistently desire that the situation be different, and you suffer. But if you give away the deed to your home to your child, then you do not suffer.) The suffering comes from the “grasping desire” for the thing lost.
- 3) To eliminate suffering, eliminate the grasping desire.
4) To eliminate the grasping desire, follow eight important rules. In these rules (called the Eight-fold Path) are proscriptions against the things that often result in unhappiness (such as killing other folks), and prescriptions to engage in practices such as meditation, to learn to still the mind (and thus still grasping desire).
Get it? (Got it.) Good!