The four noble truths are some of the first teachings from Shakyamuni Buddha. He began his teachings after reaching enlightenment in Bodhgaya, India. The four noble truths are the heart on the path to Buddhism.
The First Noble Truth
The first noble truth is that life is suffering. Buddha believed that it was natural for our life to have some form of suffering. Life is imperfect and so is the world we live in which causes us to suffer. We constantly try to strive for happiness, but happiness departs as we do. Happiness and pleasure are temporary and are brief moments in life. Suffering or dissatisfaction can be categorized into three groups:
- Suffering of suffering: this deals with pain, fear, dread, and mental distress.
- Suffering of change: these are changes in our life that bring pain like death, things leaving, or when happiness departs.
- All-pervasive suffering: this stage is the hardest to understand because we always have the possibility to suffer or be in a challenging scenario.
This noble truth teaches us that nothing lasts forever. Once we realize this we can are not attached to our experiences and we realize that nothing bad lasts forever, this can also be said for happiness. This helps to build alertness to how we respond to our experiences in life.
The Second Noble Truth
The second noble truth is the cause of suffering. Buddha believed that suffering does not come randomly or by chance, it is ultimately made from our mind. Suffering corresponds to ten negative actions, karma, and then we have created negative experiences. Negative actions from a previous life or early on in this life can cause suffering, which is essential to know. Attachment and anger bring us suffering. Attachment keeps us in a recurring existence or samsara, and this does not bring us constant happiness. Anger causes us to hurt other people and this will eventually come back to our getting hurt. Ignorance comes from not understanding that our mind becomes attached to temporary objects.
The origins of suffering are three kinds of desire: the desire for sense pleasure, the desire to become and the desire to get rid of. These cause continuity of being, which causes us to confuse the truth from what we perceive to be the truth, making us suffer. This causes us to want something, and if it”s not attained we will want something else, thus creating a cycle. The objects or status we desire are an illusion because we are just a small part of the never-ending universe.
The Third Noble Truth
The third noble truth is the cessation of suffering. This is the ending and cessation of desire and craving. The three aspects of the third noble truth are: there is the cessation of suffering, the cessation of suffering should be realized, and the cessation of suffering has been realized. Once this is realized the mind can let go of delusions, which is the goal of Buddhism. We are then able to see suffering and recognize how attachments to our desires lead us to suffering; this can only be attained by reflection and entering into Nirvana. Nirvana can only be attained by leaving the cyclic existence and ridding ourselves of suffering. Once you stop wanting things that you can”t have, you will end this cycle of wants.
The Fourth Noble Truth
The fourth truth is the truth path or the noble eightfold path. The truth path teaches us to not be involved in negative actions and to only do positive actions. The eight-fold path creates a plan that surrounds itself in meditation and creating self-discipline in our mental state, morals, and knowledge. This path evades two extremes, the pursuit of complete and ultimate sensory pleasure and self-denial. There are three aspects to the truth path: the eightfold path, the path should be developed, the path has been fully developed.
The eight-fold noble path is as follows:
- Correct thought avoiding greed, harming others, or wrong views”
- Correct speech avoiding gossip, lying, disruptive and cruel speech
- Correct actions avoiding sexual misbehavior, stealing and killing another being
- Correct livelihood making a living with the correct thought, speech and actions
- Correct understanding – developing authentic knowledge
- Correct effort we need to have true joy to continue
- Correct mindfulness be aware of the present moment instead of the past
- Correct concentration ” keeping a firm, tranquil and thoughtful mind
Despite how they are listed, they do not have to occur in this order. During this experience of the four noble truths one should feel joy and happiness.