March 18, 2014

NewsLeek: Fifth Noble Truth Discovered

P.B. Law

LOS ANGELES—The International Mindfulness Foundation (IMF) today announced the discovery of a fifth noble truth, overturning the ancient Buddhist belief that there are only four. Speaking at a press conference at UCLA, IMF president Hugh Briss reported that researchers in the US and UK, using the latest quantum MRI technology, had scanned the brains of more than 100 select meditators to locate the fifth center of noble-truth activity in a part of the striatum normally associated with lust and desire, an area previous researchers had overlooked.

“Not only did our researchers at UCLA and Oxford discover this new center of activity,” Briss said, “they were also, after consultation with certified mindfulness experts, able to correctly identify the true meaning of all five centers of noble-truth activity in the brain.”

“We can now say with absolute scientific certainty that suffering, the first noble truth, is an inability to accept life as it is, while the second noble truth, the cause of suffering, is bad social conditioning. Research strongly suggests that the third noble truth is that suffering can’t be ended but it can be managed, while the fourth noble truth, the path for the management of suffering, corresponds to learning an attitude of mindful acceptance.”

“The newly discovered fifth noble truth is that all other noble truths are subject to change without notice,” added Briss. “Obviously, this last truth is the noblest of the five.”

Briss went on to say that the researchers had also ascertained that the fourth noble truth contained only three factors—wisdom, compassion, and mindfulness—rather than the eight previously reported.

Prof. Reed Uctionist, chairman of the department of neurophysics at UCLA, then explained the researchers’ methodology in more detail. After his presentation, Uctionist was asked why the researchers considered their data so reliable as to overturn two millennia of previous findings.

“First off,” he replied, “we studied only meditators with the most unimpeachable academic certification: graduates from mindfulness centers at UCLA and Oxford. Second, we used quantum sensors to probe the inner workings of the brain. Earlier ‘research,’ to use the term loosely, was based on introspection of consciousness while sitting under trees. Research protocols were ad hoc and haphazard, with no experimental controls and no consideration of environmental impacts at all.

“Actually, it’s amazing that earlier meditators came as close to the actual noble truths as they did. The human mind is totally unreliable as an observer and interpreter of what it regards as its inner states, whereas we now have quantum sensors that can collect much more accurate data in these areas by measuring actual brain activity on the subatomic level.”

When questioned what it was that interpreted this data if not human minds, Uctionist started for a moment and then froze. After 30 seconds of whirring and clicking audible only to those sitting in the front row of the auditorium, he neatly folded in on himself, shrank to an infinitesimal point, and disappeared.

Briss then announced that, due to technical difficulties, the press conference was adjourned.

P.B. Law, a longtime Tricycle contributor, has a website.

More from P.B. Law: Bodhisattva In The Rye | The Art of Undermining your Significant OtherGoldman, BP, Claim Mahayana RightsThree Mindful Tips for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

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Stuarttilleyrobin's picture

I was temporarily terrified that Tricycle would be posting something like this... and then I felt relieved.

furtom's picture

So glad to realize the was a joke! You had me going for a sec.

JackdeTar's picture

This was hilarious. Not to mention striking commentary on our obsession with scientific materialist validation for enlightenment. Touche Tricycle, and stay true.

dkoster1955's picture

I giggled, I guffawed, I got it - and I'm not even the good representation of a Buddhist. (I'm more like the overthinking, non-regular-practicing type.) Still, I had to go to the top of the article to see if it was posted on April 1st. I love that it was mixed in with the more "serious" blogs - and we do all take ourselves so seriously sometimes, don't we? HAHAHAHA!!

georgecolombo's picture

I looked at the date, too... and for the same reason.

Alan Shusterman's picture

Thanks for a nice laugh to go with today's lunch. Perfect humor just as it is, and yet a little more perfection might be available.

softwear1's picture

I founD this to be absolutely un-needed and pretty stupid then i wenT to mr or ms. law's website and the cartoons gross. This type of wisdom collection writing is unnecessary, more in the line of MAD magazine. please restrict your articles to what i am used to reading. I have enjoyed all of them; some better than others, and some actually nbrilliant. but this? is garbage,, as i read the commentaries there were at least half of the writers feeling the same way. throw in refuse container..... PLEASE !!! E.E.

conroy.r's picture

I think that there is a tendency to take ourselves seriously that must be challenged. And there is certainly a tendency for mindfulness research to be so completely distant from love, compassion, joy and equanimity that it becomes a parody of science.

Humour isn't everybody's thing. So if you don't find it amusing, read something else. There's a lot of Buddhist writing that is entirely devoid of laughs, believe me.

ljhaze72's picture

I agree. I found this refreshing and amusing. There is a certain "vibe" in some Buddhist circles of people taking things far too seriously - even bordering on snobbery which I always find somewhat ironic. I tend to avoid those circles as I think humor is the spice of life. I welcome an occasional giggle, I don't mind a little humor in my Dharma, in fact I prefer it. :-)

dodclark's picture

"The only certainty is doubt." "Are you sure?"

kammie's picture

omg, screamingly funny. It skewers scientistic pomposity (ooh, I made up a word I think).

cynhat's picture

This is good - I'm sending it to all my meditation-group buddies...I especially like the researcher's names.

challen.willemsen's picture

Please don't post satire alongside the rest of your wonderful work. It's confusing.

joanhanna's picture

Thanks for the morning opportunity to practice
Be kind to all beings and...
always check it out for myself

Jakela's picture

Actually, I already heard this on an Orson Welles radio broadcast....

shin's picture

did they discover the self that knows anatta?....

joke as it may be, this is exactly what a lot of mindfulness 'research' is beginning to sound like.
There is now LKM as an accepted therapeutic designation for Loving Kindness Meditation...

I can hardly wait for LKM to turn up in the DSM as an adult-onset dysfunction that makes one swim upstream of society's accepted goals & values. Surely the pharmaceuticals will develop a *cure* for metta!

ahrahe's picture

is this some kind of joke? this is so wrong, i cant believe any of this to be actual truth, just a load of rubbish, bastardizing the dhamma, but whatever, the dhamma is said to be ending anyway, thank you for your contribution to it's decline...

heartjewel's picture

I do believe that this posting was under the 'humor' heading?

As for the 5th Nobel Truth ~ seems right to me = everything (yes?) is subject to change without notice. And of course the 6th Noble Truth = everything is false, including this statement.

johnadlib's picture

Not 'false' ... uncertain.
Including the Noble Truths.

mahakala's picture

the most sly men had already discovered this fifth way of seeing long, long ago... which is, of course, why we have never heard of them... or so the tales have been told

it seems they have left it to the remaining idiots to pick up the scattered pieces

conroy.r's picture

This would be more funny if it were less true!

Richard Fidler's picture

Should have held off on this article until April 1.

Dominic Gomez's picture

The three poisons: greed, belligerence...fool-ishness.

mattbard's picture

....... oh good!! i got the joke right away. after back patting, i am humble humble. lol, matt

Minding's picture

Was this article supposed to be attributed to The Onion?