One way we can approach the path of the warrior is through an understanding of the fourth Noble Truth. The previous chapter referred to The Four Noble Truths, and explained that the first three are ‘the truth of the experience of dissatisfaction’, ‘the truth of the cause of dissatisfaction’, and ‘the truth of the cessation of dissatisfaction’. The fourth Truth is ‘the path to the cessation of dissatisfaction’ – which is The Noble Eightfold Path.
It is important to notice that the word ‘path’ is used here. We are not discussing a remedy or a cure. It is a path. The word ‘path’ means something found or laid down by someone who has passed that way before. A path has been trodden and tested. A path takes us from the beginning of a journey to the end. The Noble Eightfold Path is purposely designed to take us from where we think we are to where we actually are. It leads us from the experience of dissatisfaction—of duality—to the realisation of non-duality. The Noble Eightfold Path is the path of the middle way – free from the four referential extremes of monism, dualism, nihilism, and eternalism.
These terms require some explanation.
‘Everything is one’ is the key tenet of monism. ‘New Age’ philosophy is often a popular modern expression of monism. It is also found in the idea that God and God’s creation are undivided. This idea—although appealing to some—is untenable in terms of the requirement of any effort with regard to the spiritual path, because monism encourages fatalism. If everything is God, then there is no purpose in a spiritual path. The reality of monism is partial inasmuch as it refers to the empty state. The fallacy of monism is that it denies the plurality of form. In asserting the reality of emptiness and denying the plurality of form, monism denies the non-dual nature of emptiness and form.
‘Divorced individuation’ is the key tenet of dualism. Here, phenomena are seen as separate, insulated, and isolated. All experiences and phenomena are attributed meaning. The world of form defines meaning, and the dissolution of form betokens loss of meaning. Self and other are understood as separate. The self and the world are understood as separate. The reality of dualism is partial inasmuch as it refers to diversity. The fallacy of dualism is that it denies emptiness. In asserting the reality of diversity and denying emptiness, dualism denies the non-dual nature of emptiness and form.
‘Cynical retraction’ is the key tenet of nihilism. Philosophically, this pertains to existentialism and scientific materialism. Nothing is regarded as having meaning other than the meaning attributed by the individual, and this meaning is arbitrary. One’s actions exist in isolation and the consequences of one’s actions are irrelevant. The reality of nihilism is partial inasmuch as it refers to chaos. The fallacy of nihilism is that it denies the patterns which arise from chaos.
‘Nothing is arbitrary’ is the key tenet of eternalism. Everything is regarded as having a meaning. One’s life is seen as a series of experiences provided so that one can learn specific lessons which cause one to evolve in a positive direction. There are no coincidences, and hidden value can be found in every calamity. The fatalist understanding of karma is eternalistic. The reality of eternalism is partial inasmuch as it refers to inherent meaningfulness. The fallacy of eternalism is that it denies the absence of particularity from which specifics arise.