Sometimes the scriptures seem too idealistic when you read them; you don’t feel they may apply that much to your own particular personal problems at the time. I always found it very helpful and encouraging when Luang Por Chah would talk about how he dealt with very strong emotional blocks or problems. When I first met him I idealized him. I thought, well, he is an enlightened master, he probably never had problems like I do. He was born and walked on seven lotus flowers, was pure, and never had to deal with anger or fear or anything of that nature. We can idolize and project onto teachers as if they were perfect from the beginning.
When we look at ourselves we see that we suffer from a lot of self-consciousness. So much of modern neuroses are just anxieties we create around our own lives. Even in modern affluent societies such as this one, which does everything to try to create security, or the illusion of it anyway, there are increases in anxiety. This is a common human problem. The Buddha put the Noble Truths, based on dukkha or suffering, in his first sermon. You can translate dukkha as anxiety, or fear. It is a mental state we create ourselves, which makes our lives very unhappy and full of fears and anxieties. I have always tried to be very faithful to the Four Noble Truths, as many of you are aware, because I found it to be such a profound and useful teaching. It always impressed me that the Buddha explained them in his first sermon after enlightenment, and it is a perfect teaching. If all the other scriptures, the rest of the Tipitaka and so forth, suddenly vanished out of sight, and all we had left were the Four Noble Truths, that would be enough. They are the way to non-suffering. They are a tool I encourage you to use.
This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho on his eightieth birthday is from the Forest Sangha Newsletter #94 (2015), p. 3.