The third turning of the Fourth Noble Truth is to make the Eightfold Path real (Realize it).
Not there yet.
Or more accurately, it requires digging deep into practice. A few days back, I presented the Fourth Noble Truth as a network of practices that interconnected with the First, Second and third Noble Truths. In the comments to that post, Barry noted that the Buddha had a good reason for making the Eightfold Path a systematic process. We can never know why the Buddha chose this pattern of steps but they appear to proceed one after the other in a firmly set direction towards deep clarity.
I hadn’t thought the network version was in opposition to this although it may seem that way. Perhaps it’s all just chaos ordering itself. Or it may be order letting loose and having fun. In fact, as I dug into the three turning of each Noble Truth it was hard to see where one left off and the other began. At one level, each can be “worked on” as a single unit – and it would follow that the Eightfold Path would be a systematic practice of well-being. At another, the Four Noble Truths can be an open system that feeds itself and the world through a wide and deep circulation of insight, awareness, and compassion.
Regardless, realizing the Fourth Noble Truth, for me, means making a conscious commitment to practice. At the same time there has to be an intention to not get distracted by the “stuff” of Buddhism. As a religion, it has the same content and capability to disappoint me. It’s priests and warriors are made of the same stuff as found in all religions. Flies in the zendo.
All that matters is practice. All that can be made real is practice as “an open system …in which material continually enters from, and leaves into, the outside environment.”* I’m not sure of this (or of anything for that matter) but I think it is in that space between entry and leaving that the eight practices of the Fourth Noble Truth manifest.
Thank you for your practice,
*Ludwig von Bertalanffy, General System Theory, 1968