In a press release issued late last night, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer officially challenged the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism regarding the existence and nature of suffering, claiming that its prescription medications have rendered these “truths” obsolete.
The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism teach that suffering exists; suffering arises from attachment to desires; suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases; and freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
Not so, stated Pfizer CEO Ian Read. While generally taking issue with all of the Four Noble Truths, Read specifically targeted the fourth, asserting that Pfizer's prescription medications – most notably Xanax – are the new true path to freedom from suffering.
Read defended what some have criticized as an inappropriate pharmaceutical foray into the realm of philosophy.
"It was a bold move," Read agreed, "but when you think about it, this is certainly not the first time that science has butted heads with philosophy and religion. Look at Galileo - he was convicted of heresy for pointing out that, contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the earth revolves around the sun. He spent his life under house arrest.”
Fortunately for Pfizer executives, Buddhism doesn't have nearly the same sphere of influence in the United States as the Catholic Church in Galileo's day. Read contended that, given that the large majority of Americans who purport to practice Buddhism are mere dabblers, for whom tarot cards or astrology could easily substitute for the Four Noble Truths, few are likely to be greatly offended by Pfizer's challenge to the tenets of Buddhism.
“And we're not telling people to stop meditating," Read clarified. "We simply wanted to inform people who've wasted, ahem, devoted a lot of time to the practice of Buddhism that there's now a new option in the form of our medications."
Read even went so far as to predict that his company will blow the First Noble Truth (the existence of suffering) out of the water, by eradicating suffering altogether.
“We're especially encouraged by the increasing number of psychiatric prescriptions among people identifying as Buddhist,” he added. “These are folks who've tried both paths to freedom from suffering – the so-called Eightfold Path and the prescription path – and have found the latter to be more effective.”
Mindfulness practitioner Lisa Hammond is one such person. Lisa, who has had a daily meditation practice for over six years, now also has a daily medication practice.
“My neuropathways were burned out during childhood due to little-T trauma,” explained Lisa, who was prescribed Xanax to help with her generalized anxiety. “Because I've done a lot of work on myself, I'm on a very low dose, though," she emphasized.
Read acknowledged that Pfizer is not the first pharmaceutical company to offer a prescription for ending suffering; however, the first path to freedom from suffering, Vioxx (produced by Merck), was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2004.
"There's now a new Fourth Noble Truth: Xanax," stated Read.