we here? Why are we not happy with our lives? What is the cause of our
unsatisfactoriness? How can we see the end of unsatisfactoriness and experience
Buddha's Teaching is based on the
Four Noble Truths. To realize these Truths is to realize and penetrate
into the true nature of existence, including the full knowledge of oneself.
When we recognize that all phenomenal things are transitory, are subject
to suffering and are void of any essential reality, we will be convinced
that true and enduring happiness cannot be found in material possessions
and worldly achievement, that true happiness must be sought only through
mental purity and the cultivation of wisdom.
Four Noble Truths are a very important aspect of the teaching of the Buddha.
The Buddha has said that it is because we fail to understand the Four Noble
Truths that we have continued to go round in the cycle of birth and death.
In the very first sermons of the Buddha, the Dhammachakka Sutta,
which He gave to the five monks at the Deer park in Sarnath was on the
Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. What are the Four Noble Truths?
They are as follows:
Noble Truth of Dukkha
Noble Truth of the Cause of Dukkha
Noble Truth of the End of Dukkha
Noble Truth of the path leading to the End of Dukkha
are many ways of understanding the Pali word 'Dukkha'.
It has generally been translated as 'suffering'
but this term as used in the Four Noble Truths has a deeper and wider meaning.
Dukkha contains not only the ordinary meaning of suffering, but also includes
deeper ideas such as imperfection, pain, impermanence, disharmony, discomfort,
irritation, or awareness of incompleteness and insufficiency. By all means,
Dukkha includes physical and mental suffering: birth, decay, disease, death,
to be united with the unpleasant, to be separated from the pleasant, not
to get what one desires. However, many people do not realize that even
during the moments of joy and happiness, there is Dukkha because these
moments are all impermanent states and will pass away when conditions change.
Therefore, the truth of Dukkha encompasses the whole of existence, in our
happiness and sorrow, in every aspect of our lives. As long as we live,
we are very profoundly subjected to this truth.
people may have the impression that viewing life in terms of Dukkha is
a rather pessimistic way of looking at life. This is not a pessimistic
but a realistic way of looking at life. If one is suffering from a disease
and refuses to recognize the fact that one is ill, and as a result of which
refuses to seek for treatment, we will not consider such a mental attitude
as being optimistic, but merely as being foolish. Therefore, by being both
optimistic or pessimistic, one does not really understand the nature of
life, and is therefore unable to tackle life's
problems in the right perspective. The Four Noble Truths begin with the
recognition of Dukkha and then proceed to analyse its cause and find its
cure. Had the Buddha stopped at the Truth of Dukkha, then one may say Buddhism
has identified the problem but has not given the cure; if such is the case,
then the human situation is hopeless. However, not only is the Truth of
Dukkha recognized, the Buddha proceeded to analyze its cause and the way
to cure it. How can Buddhism be considered to be pessimistic if the cure
to the problem is known? In fact, it is a teaching which is filled with
addition, even though Dukkha is a noble truth, it does not mean that there
is no happiness, enjoyment and pleasure in life. There is, and the Buddha
has taught various methods with which we can gain more happiness in our
daily life. However, in the final analysis, the fact remains that the pleasure
or happiness which we experience in life is impermanent. We may enjoy a
happy situation, or the good company of someone we love, or we enjoy youth
and health. Sooner or later, when these states change we experience suffering.
Therefore, while there is every reason to feel glad when one experiences
happiness, one should not cling to these happy states or be side-tracked
and forget about working one's way
to complete Liberation.
If we wish to cure ourselves from suffering,
we must first identify its cause. According to the Buddha, craving or desire
(tanha or raga) is the cause of suffering. This is the Second Noble
Truth. People crave for pleasant experiences, crave for material things,
crave for eternal life, and when disappointed, crave for eternal death.
They are not only attached to sensual pleasures, wealth and power, but
also to ideas, views, opinions, concepts, beliefs. And craving is linked
to ignorance, that is, not seeing things as they really are, or failing
to understand the reality of experience and life. Under the delusion of
Self and not realizing Anatta (non-Self), a person clings to things
which are impermanent, changeable, perishable. The failure to satisfy one's
desires through these things causes disappointments and suffering.
Danger of Selfish Desire
is a fire which burns in all beings: every activity is motivated by desire.
They range from the simple physical desire of animals to the complex and
often artificially stimulated desires of the civilized man. To satisfy
desire, animals prey upon one another, and human beings fight, kill, cheat,
lie and perform various forms of unwholesome deeds. Craving is a powerful
mental force present in all forms of life, and is the chief cause of the
ills in life. It is this craving that leads to repeated births in the cycle
we have realized the cause of suffering, we are in the position to put
an end to suffering. So, how do we put an end to suffering? Eliminate it
at its root by the removal of craving in the mind. This is the Third Noble
Truth. The state where craving ceases is known as Nibbana. The word
Nibbana is composed of 'ni'
meaning the departure from or end of craving. This is a state which is
free from suffering and rounds of rebirth. This is a state which is not
subjected to the laws of birth, decay and death. This state is so sublime
that no human language can express it. Nibbana is Unborn, Unoriginated,
Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated,
this Uncreated, this Unformed, then escape from the conditioned world is
is beyond logic and reasoning. We may engage in highly speculative discussions
regarding Nibbana or ultimate reality, but this is not the way to
really understand it. To understand and realize the truth of Nibbana,
it is necessary for us to walk the Eightfold Path, and to train and purify
ourselves with diligence and patience. Through spiritual development and
maturity, we will be able to realize the Third Noble Truth.
Noble Eightfold Path is the Fourth Noble Truth which leads to Nibbana.
It is a way of life consisting of eight factors. By walking on this Path,
it will be possible for us to see an end to suffering. Because Buddhism
is a logical and consistent teaching embracing every aspect of life, this
noble Path also serves as the finest possible code for leading a happy
life. Its practice brings benefits to oneself and other, and it is not
a Path to be practised by those who call themselves Buddhists alone, but
by each and every understanding person, irrespective of his religious beliefs.
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