Here's the last part of the appendix to Steve Hagen's book, Buddhism Plain and Simple. it contain some hard Buddhist truths. But I like them, even though they aren't all that pleasant.
Truth is better than wishful religious thinking. Which is why I much prefer Buddhism stripped of supernaturalism over traditional religions.
Enjoy. Or, not.
There are two forms of grasping. First there is the grasping at sense objects. You see the object of your desire out there and you take hold of it.
The second kind of grasping is holding tight to belief. The Buddha identified three common types of belief. The first is belief in something "out there" that will set everything right and make everything perfect -- a heaven or paradise.
But even the nihilistic view that "after I die, that's it" is still a form of grasping onto such a belief. Grasping at any thoughts or opinions fits this category, since this grasping is an attempt to make sense of our existence.
A second kind of belief is belief that ritual or ceremony can somehow save us from pain, confusion, and ignorance. It's only in learning to see this very moment, as it has come to be, that liberation occurs -- not in wearing robes or performing ritual acts.
The third belief we grasp at is the belief in a self, a permanent existence. This is the belief that's most deeply rooted in us, and that causes us the most pain.
And now we have the tenth link, being: persistence or existence. This in turn will link to ignorance, since, in Reality, nothing persists. But with being comes birth, the eleventh link, and with birth comes death, the twelfth link.
Thus birth and death, the great problem we all face, are linked to the grasping of a self. This is duhkha in its most gripping and pervasive form.
But duhkha need not grip us. To see this moment as it comes to be -- to see that all is fluidity, that nothing separate is born, and that nothing dies -- is to break the chain of bondage.