In a word, we can’t end our suffering while continuing to act as we’ve been acting all our lives. Ultimately we are causing our suffering, not the world around us.
Acknowledging and accepting that our suffering is caused by our cravings is the absolutely essential beginning to our walking the Buddhist path to end our suffering. That is why it is the first step in my post, “12 Steps on the Buddhist Path.” Our cravings are so strong, are so deeply rooted in our ego, that if we don’t recognize and admit their roll in our suffering, there will be no motivation strong enough to free ourselves from them.
But as stated in my previous post, “The Missing Noble Truth,” in order to walk the Noble Eightfold Path … Right View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration … we must first surrender our ego to our true Buddha nature by turning our will and our lives over to the care of our true Buddha nature, freeing ourselves from the known, from our ego. Better put, we must first have the intent of surrendering our ego.
Our cravings are a function of our ego, so when the Buddha said that cravings must be relinquished that is almost synonymous with saying that we must relinquish our ego. Without that intent, we cannot make progress on the Eightfold Path. And without the Eightfold Path we can’t make progress on surrendering our ego, turning our will over to the care of our true Buddha nature, ultimately perfecting that intent. The two are symbiotic.
We will only end our suffering when we are free of cravings, when we accept that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is. At this point, we will have accomplished surrendering our ego to our true Buddha mind. But we can only accept that when we are aware that the five skandhas are all a product of the mind, and come to believe from within ourselves, not from reading or teaching, that we have everything we need within ourselves to be at peace and happy. And we can only come to know that when we embrace all aspects of our being, because until we do that we are caught in an internal struggle. And we can only embrace ourselves after we have the intent to surrender our ego to our true Buddha nature by turning our will and our life over to our unborn Buddha mind, because the ego mind has no interest in embracing ourselves and thus freeing ourselves from its grasp
For more on this process, see my post, “12 Steps on the Buddhist Path.”