FULL MOON – Actuality

Though one may know much about Dhamma,
if one does not live accordingly-
like a cowherd who covets another’s cattle-
one experiences none of the benefits
of walking the Way.

Dhammapada v. 19

To know about something is not the same as actually knowing something. Similar to the way a photograph taken on holiday might remind us of an experience we had, but is clearly not the same as that actual experience. The photograph, as with ‘knowing about’, is an approximation. The function of approximations is that they can give direction to our attention. For example, the teachings on the Four Noble Truths can inspire us to attend to the actuality of suffering. Without such encouragement we could heedlessly assume suffering to be no more than a symptom of something going wrong. Indeed most of the world operates on such a flawed assumption. Which is why we need teachings. We must remember though that these teachings only point the direction, we still must walk the way. There are those who profess a belief in selfless wisdom and its expression as selfless compassion, yet their beliefs remain little more than nice ideas unless they lead to making effort. Living according with Dhamma means we are willing to make the effort to drop our habits of avoidance and discover ways of being fully open to that which disappoints us, motivated by an interest in seeing beyond appearances.

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