Everything You Need To Know About The Four Noble Truths Of Buddhism
Truth is defined as something that is a fact or is in accordance with reality. In our modern world, truths are often ignored and this leads to chaos – not only with others but with ourselves. The world today is riddled with a lot of opinions parading as truths and these often lead to confusion regarding the understanding of ourselves as humans. Although each person is different, we recognize that there exist certain truths that remain universal and are therefore applicable to all.
Buddhism embodies these truths in its doctrines and summarizes this with the Four Noble Truths. After Buddha had attained enlightenment, also known as nirvana, he decided to teach these truths to his five disciples. In today’s blog post, we will be discussing these four noble truths and why understanding them and taking them to heart remains significant in achieving true harmony and prosperity.
Table of Contents
- 1. Understanding The Four Noble Truths
- 1.1 The First Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of Suffering
- 1.2 The Second Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
- 1.3 The Third Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
- 1.4 The Fourth Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering
- 2. Final Thoughts
Understanding The Four Noble Truths
The First Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of Suffering
The First Noble Truth is the Truth of Suffering, wherein humans live in a continuous state of dissatisfaction. In Buddhism, it is referred to specifically as “Samsara”. This term does not necessarily imply physical pain or hardship, but rather the never-ending cycle of temporality. Humans by nature are never fully satisfied nor content with what they have. As negative as it may seem, we are all bound to perish one day. Our experiences and the things in our lives fade away, and we are always desiring for more. The wanting of man is limitless and this sense of impermanence is what leads to suffering. Buddha’s teachings show that wishing to end this suffering would be entering into the mind of renunciation; that is, in Tibetan terms the “ngem gyun” which means being fed up or done with things. To end this suffering does not necessarily mean giving up everything you have but is rather a direct realization of what the Samsara means and how you must overcome it. Thus, the first Noble Truth establishes the universal existence of suffering due to limitless wanting dissatisfaction.
The Second Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism is the Truth of the Origin of Suffering which seeks to understand what causes the Samsara. Buddha essentially teaches in this truth how dissatisfaction stems from actions or karma, as well as a person’s internal afflictions and emotions. This suffering is not caused by external events or people. Rather, the person is the one who primarily dictates their happiness and suffering. Indeed, as some say, the only person who can truly make you happy is yourself. Man’s suffering is caused by his desires and ignorance. If you choose actions that pursue your own desires while it causes conflict or strains among your friends or peers, for example, then you are actively choosing to hurt yourself and to add to your suffering. Even with this, however, Buddhism does not command what people must do. It recommends actions through a system of ethics made up of virtues and non-virtues that will help achieve happiness and reduce suffering. Thus, the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism seeks to make us understand the cause of suffering: our very own actions and choices.
The Third Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
The Third Noble Truth is the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. Cessation is defined as bringing an end to something. Hence, this truth discusses how it is possible to achieve an end to the sufferings experienced by man. This is done through achieving a state of liberation and freedom through the control of internal afflictions or feelings. It is not so much as not considering feelings but accepting reality as it is. The end of suffering in this noble truth can be seen in two ways: in the physical sense, that is, the end of life, and second, in the spiritual sense through the achievement of enlightenment or nirvana. Nirvana can be achieved only when one has reached a state of transcendence that is free from suffering and the cycle of birth and rebirth. The Third Noble Truth shows us that there is indeed a physical but most importantly a spiritual way of ending man’s suffering, as was achieved by Gautama Buddha himself.
The Fourth Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering
The Fourth Noble Truth of Buddhism is the Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering. Having acknowledged suffering, understanding its causes, and knowing that an end to it is possible, the fourth truth showcases the “Path” to which ending this suffering can be achieved. The removal of the Samsara is achieved when man is able to “travel” the path to awareness of reality. This awareness sheds to light former misconceptions we have had of life. This is achieved by Buddha’s teachings of the Eightfold Path: including Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and lastly, Right Concentration. Furthermore, this Path of the Fourth Noble Truth also consists of good moral conduct, meditation and mental development, and wisdom or insight. All in all, the Fourth Noble Truth summarizes the key learnings of the three previous truths and highlights the Path by which Nirvana may be achieved.
Understanding the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is crucial because it is something we as humans can all understand and relate to, and must therefore all take into consideration. It is true, for instance, that we are the primary actors that cause our own happiness and suffering – and this suffering is also something that we can manage and be free from. To do this, we must learn to be more mindful of how we feel and how we act, and the ways we can do this are enshrined in Buddhism’s Eightfold Path.
Now that we have learned all about the Four Noble Truths, one way to become closer to achieving less suffering and having a more happy, harmonious life is through having a constant reminder of these truths to take into heart. Our Four Noble Truths Buddha Set does exactly that, with each mini Buddha statue representing one truth. Not only do they serve as cute and lovely decórs at homes and rooms, but the symbolism each one brings serves the ultimate purpose of reminding Buddhist principles. Each statue is colored and posed differently to represent the First Truth of Suffering (Dukkha), the Second Truth of the Cause or Origin of Suffering (Samudāya), the Third Truth of Cessation or End of Suffering (Nirodha), and lastly the Fourth Truth or the Path to the Cessation of Suffering (Magga).
Though suffering exists, Buddhism teaches us it has a cause and therefore also an end and the way by which this end can be achieved.