An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of July 21, 2002
Written in the woods a few miles south of
Natchez, Mississippi, USA

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

This week I've ben thinking about how I came to have the heretical thought patterns and belief systems that now make me who I am. Many of those ideas were accidentally smuggled to me in the form of discarded paperbacks of the world's classic literature. These were brought to me by my mother when each day she returned from working long hours in the book-selling drugstore of the next town. Usually the paperbacks had their covers ripped off because when a book was damaged the clerk could do with it what she wanted and no one was charged.

Somewhere among those classics I was introduced to the Four Noble Truths discovered by the Buddha around 500 BC. They are:

At times in my life I have practiced several kinds of yoga and meditation, same as I have studied all the major religions. Today I still practice certain yoga and meditation techniques, but I've laid aside all the religions, and even the Four Noble Truths have come to seem flawed. I can no more identify with "Man's existence is inseparable from sorrow" than with "Man is born in sin." Also, I suspect any creed based on "right" anything. However, for me, the advice that "peace is attained by extinguishing craving" comes close to hitting the mark.

This week the forest has been profoundly deep and dark, and with that worrisome blackish tinge like a minor chord being struck during a vigorous melody in C, I have walked the fields sometimes with a brooding mind. However, it has been a great pleasure deciding to rededicate myself to certain aspects of the Four Noble Truths.

This week, memories and meditations have been like bright wildflowers blossoming out of season, just when they were needed.