With the peer evaluations and effective grade I received at the bottom.
I will expand this essay in the future to fully explain areas I could not due to the word limit (800 Words), which was still passed.
Question Responded Too
The Lord Buddha is described as a doctor on many occasions within the early strata of texts, however, I would argue that 'psychologist' would be a better term to use in translations today as the Lord Buddha deals with the cognitive and behavioural aspects of existence with and training the mind.
“Monks, doctors give a purgative for warding off diseases... So I will teach you the noble purgative that always succeeds and never fails, a purgative whereby beings subject to birth are freed from birth; beings subject to ageing...; beings subject to death...; beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress & despair are freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress & despair.”
AN 10.108 Virecana (Tikicchaka) Sutta: A Purgative, Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Here I will not deal in-depth with birth, ageing, and death, other than to say (and point out the psychological interpretation I subscribe to) the Lord Buddha was born, aged, and died. However looking at these partly in psychological terms birth could be seen as the birth of personality, mood, mind-state... which is then grasped to as a part of self; ageing could be the lamentation of the loss of youthful good health and looks; and finally death may represent our fear of loss2, change, and dying.
The second part of the list talking about sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress & despair obviously carry mental connotations and show the psychological nature of the Buddhist Teachings more clearly.
The Lord Buddha is claimed to be akin to perfect at times. And one of his 'virtuous qualities' - one example of the list can be seen in MN 90 Kannakatthala Sutta - is that he is an Arahant - "one with taints destroyed... and is completely liberated through final knowledge."3 The Buddha also claims in Itivuttaka 100 to be the unsurpassed doctor, and other “virtuous qualities” found in the Buddha Vandana the Lord Buddha is described as being the 'unexcelled trainer of untrained people, and teacher of gods and humans'. This relates to Abraham Maslow's ideal therapist being self actualised, although the definition of self actualised and that of an enlightened being will not entirely match.
As the Lecture series separates the four noble truths into two sections of diagnosis and prescription, with the first two truths as the diagnosis; the general (first noble truth) and specific (second noble truth). And the second Two Noble Truths being the prescription of the result looked for (third noble truth) and the treatment plan to enable good health (fourth noble truth). This grouping of the truths into two sections can be seen throughout the early texts with the common phrase “only stress (first two noble truths) that I describe and the cessation of stress (second two noble truths).” (SN 22.86).
Professor Robert Wright in video three of lecture one points out (7min) that the common paraphrase of the first noble truth as life is Dukkhadoes capture the sense of this truth due to Dukkha being a pervasiveness equality of life. This, however, does not describe the Lord Buddha's teachings on what Dukkha is (as mentioned), and ignores teachings on pleasure or satisfactoriness (Sukkha).
Within the texts sensual (or worldly) pleasures are criticised by the Lord Buddha not because they are intrinsically unwholesome, but rather because they lead to attachment. However, the Lord Buddha does praise non-sensual (or spiritual) pleasures such as those found in Jhana(mental absorption) as seen in the Maha-Saccaka Sutta MN36. And the giving up of a lesser short term pleasure, for a greater pleasure is seen as more skilful (Dhammapada 360 – 362).
Pleasure can also be understood from another intrinsic characteristic of existence, such as Impermanence (Anicca – Pali). Seeing pleasure from an angle of change, pleasure can be seen as unsatisfactory as it can not last, and will be replaced with the negative side of the spectrum to some degree at some point. Although the same can be said for Dukkha, chasing pleasure at all costs without evaluating the cost of the pursuit can lead to addiction and other problems due to high expectations (as can be seen from prolonged use of a pleasure giving substance -such as the monkeys and fruit juice in video four of lesson one. See also Thomas G. Pante article in Psychology Today4)
My preference for the translation of Dukkha as 'stress' in the context of evolutionary psychology is that I see stress as a motivator (be it physical or cognitive). The brain reward and punish us for reaching (or not) goals. Examples of reward, is the pleasure, or sense of fulfilment, of reaching our goals. And an example of punishment maybe having headaches, becoming downhearted, or our mood is affected in another way, from not reaching a goal (such as sex, coffee, or exercise). I believe this can be most clearly seen in the fight or flight response, where negative sensations are felt until the threat is over. I would however suggest that it would be general stresses and strains that as Stephen Dowle pointed out in a forum post5,' “[I]t motivates us to seek the Dharma”; That is to say, we become motivated to seek the truth through the dissatisfaction we have in life.
2 - See "Dasadhamma Sutta: Ten Things" (AN 10.48), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy
Edition), 4 July 2010,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.048.than.html.
3 - Virtues of the Buddha
4 - Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP. “Could Lower Expectations Result in a Happier Life? What is a good enough life? ”Published
on February 21, 2011 in Do the Right Thing.
5 - Suffering can be good for you
self → After seeing the evaluation boxes I realised I never explicitly stated my support for the diagnosis. although I hope it is easily inferable, I felt 3 of the evaluation areas needed marked lower than I would of hoped because of this.
peer 1 → Youe essay goes well behond the lectures and assigned reading to explain the four noble truth. The analogy of the buudha's teachings to a doctor's discussing ailment, cause, cure and ways to be cure is excellent and help makes the notions of the four noble truth more concrete. You cited numerous work in a proficient and effective manner. I would of like you to develop a tad more your arguments regarding Budda's concept of suffering, but I understand you qlready exceeded the alloted number of words, and had to wrap it up. Nevertheless.... Very interesting read!
peer 2 → [This area was left blank by the evaluator.]
peer 3 → The number of references and quotations are appreciated. This reader thinks that the definition of stress, instead of suffering is an interesting interpretation, but not as encompassing. Not sure which question this writer addressed - I will assume question 1.
peer 4 → [This area was left blank by the evaluator.]