The Four Noble Truths

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"Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you your self test and judge to be true." -Buddha

The four noble truths exemplify the essence of the teachings of Buddha. They represent the beginning of a long journey to inner peace, happiness, and most importantly an end to suffering. Seven weeks after the Buddha reached enlightenment at a place called Sarnath, in India, he gave his first teaching. This is referred to as setting the wheel of Dharma in motion. (Rahula 27). It was here where Buddha first spoke of the 4 noble truths and solidified them as eternal parts of life. The four noble truths were presented as follows.

The First Noble Truth is suffering or dukkha. This includes physical, emotional and mental forms of suffering but can also be interpreted more widely as a feeling of ‘dissatisfaction'. (Hanh 43)

The Second Noble Truth points to the origin of suffering, namely craving or tanha (literally ‘thirst'). At its most simple, this relates to our constant craving for what is pleasurable in what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. (Hanh 44)

The Third Noble Truth is the extinction of suffering. It refers to Nibbana in which craving has faded completely and thereby suffering too. (Hanh 45)

The Fourth Noble Truth leads to the end of suffering and provides a practical pathway to the realization of Nibbana in the form of the Noble Eightfold Path. This consists of eight factors: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. (Hanh 46)

The first noble truth has to deal with the different kinds of suffering that one will come to face throughout their life. The Buddha said there are three kinds of dukkha. The first two are inevitable and the third is optional. (Rahula 28) The first is dukkha-dukkha, or ordinary suffering. This includes what the Buddha calls the three great teachers: sickness, old age and death, and the loss of a loved one. The second is viparinama-dukkha. In life even though we are happy, we know that our happiness will not last forever. This awareness that life will not always be this way often brings us sadness, and explains why the Buddha says that even happiness is dukkha. The third is samkhara-dukkha. This is the suffering of conditioned states. The Buddha believes that the thoughts that often pass through our heads can bring us much suffering. This is the one dukkha that we have some control over. (Hanh 43) Although there are different degrees of suffering, there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness. But as you can see these are all things that can not last forever. So when you think about it, this means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will also pass away one day. As far as my own personal battles go with trying to find an inner peace through faith of any kind to me Buddha made a lot of sense. The idea that people are miserable because they suffer is a blatantly obvious. I kind of think of this as smoker would with their habit. Every day they smoke and know for a fact that they are slowly killing themselves, addiction or not they understand that what they are doing is hurting them. As people we realize to that we hurt ourselves and our friends and families with our actions and if you break down a lot of the situations that derive from suffering they go back many times to a selfish act or act committed from a personal desire. I have lived my whole life in a particular way and it would be hard for...
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