The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths talk about suffering and how to cease the
cycle. Siddhartha, the historical Buddha realized these four truths
during his enlightment and came to teach them to all that would
listen.The Four Noble Truths are central to all the Buddhist tradition,
Zen, Tibetan, Large vehicle, small vehicle. They are one of the most
fundamental teachings of Buddhism.
“To be on the Buddha Path, means to trust that we have enough suffering to realize our own Buddha nature.” Jack Kornfield
The Four Realities are:
There is unsatisfactoriness
The Buddha started with the problem. He said, here is what we need
to fix and I’m going to tell you how to do it. By stating the problem
first, he makes sure that we understand that we need to do something
Unsatisfactoriness is just one of the translations for dukkha. The other translations are: pain, suffering, craving, etc.
The Buddha said that birth, decay, not to get desires, getting older
is suffering. All experiences of life entail some degree of suffering.
Here are some forms suffering takes in our lives: hunger, illness,
loneliness, depression, loss, competition, fear, confusion, jealousy,
hurt. Even when things are going well in our life, we face pain. Pain
of the happy moment ending. We then face the fact that we want it back.
In our modern western society, we face a new form of unsatisfactoriness,
consumerism. This not only causes us to always want more, want the
newest version, the shiniest toy, it also causes us to disregard the
consequences of the unchecked greed. Environmental impact, exploitation
of the poorest of this world and financial woes are but some of the
consequences of such comportment. Yet, if we don’t fill our duty as a
citizen of this Western plague, we feel incomplete, unsatisfied.
There is a cause to suffering
Of course, this one is obvious. We are conditioned from infancy to
accept the fact that everything has an explanation, even if we don’t
understand it at the moment. So does, suffering. Craving is a big part
of the explanation of our lack of satisfaction.
We crave sensual pleasures (watching the latest blockbuster,
listening the latest album or eating that delicious chocolate cake.)
We also crave to become or be something we are not. (I want to be rich, I want to be more beautiful)
Lastly we crave not becoming something we are not at the moment (I
don’t want to lose my job, I don’t want to die, I don’t want my son to
move stop talking to me)
The reason why we have these cravings is because we have the wrong
impression that by satisfying our desire, we will have ever-lasting
happiness. This has the opposite effect of springing a trap in which we
crave to do always more to get a little bit more as when we get what we
wished for, we realize that we are not happy (yet), after all.
There is a way to cease suffering
Luckily for us, Siddhartha found a way for us to get rid of the
problem. When we are in a state of being free from suffering, we are
said to have reached Nirvana.
Nirvana means literally “blowing out” and it refers to extinguishing the fires of greed, hatred and delusion.
It is important to notice that even if Nirvana pertains a
connotation of Heaven in English, it is not necessary to die to attain
Nirvana. When someone attains Nirvana during his life, he breaks the
cycle of rebirth, the ultimate goal of all Buddhists and his death is
just the final link of the chain. Upon Death, the enlightened being
will join the state of eternal Bliss shared by all the Buddhas before
The eightfold path leads to the cessation of suffering.
The eightfold path will be further discussed here.
For now,suffice to say that the Buddha’s last truth is that there is
hope. He started by stating the problem, the cause and then went on to
say that there is hope and here is how to solve the problem. We
couldn’t ask for a better way of solving a problem. This said, nothing
is easy in life and we have a long time to reach the point when we can
say:”I get it!”
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