Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Since the Four Noble Truths form such an important basis of the Buddhist life, we should study them seriously and not be deceived by their apparent simplicity. In the study of Buddhism, a mere superficial glance or even the learning and repitition of words is useless unless it leads us to deep understanding. A boy can learn the Four Noble Truths in ten minutes yet it may take thousands of lives before there is real understanding. Buddha stressed the importance or real understanding when he said; "It is through not understanding, not penetrating four things, that I, disciples, as well as you, have wandered so long through the long round of rebirths. What are these four things? They are, the Noble Truth of Suffering; the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering the Noble Turth of the Origin of Suffering; the Noble Truth of the Cure of Suffering; the Noble Truth of the Path which leads to the End of Suffering."

The First Noble Truth of the Universal Nature of Suffering.

We understand this truth when we awaken to the realization that sorrow and suffering is one of the principal characteristics of life. All living beings (human or animal) are subject to the ever present danger of pain and suffering, without exception. There are no guaranteed condiitons of happiness, peace or security. At any hour, or even any moment, we are likely to become victims.

What can be classified as suffering? Birth, death, old-age; hunger, thirst,heat and cold; abnormal functioning of the body, disease, sickness and accidents. All these are suffering.

To be separated from the people we love or to live with unpleasant and difficult people; mental worry, anxiety, anguish, grief, woe and despair; not to obtain the objects of our desires; dwelling in unfit or uncongenial surroundings or having unpleasant employment or mental or physical ill-health of ourselves or of those we love; suffering endured by those to whom we are attached.

Suffering must be viewed in it's correct perspective. It has attended us in the past, envelopes us in the present and will be with us in the future-----unless we take active steps to escape it.

The Second Noble Truth is the Origin of Suffering.

In this we learn of the desires and emotions which are the factors causing suffering, either in this life or a subsequent one. They include greed; attachment to or infatuation with people, ideas or objects; the failure to obtain or satisfy our desires; the unhappiness and disgust which comes from these people, ideas or objects, sooner or later. Restlessness, ambition, self-exaltation, pride, vanity, delusion, craving; the belief that the ego, or personality, is a permanent soul or entity.

The failure to learn from our past experiences; forgetting the tragedies of life by losing them in a round of artificial pleasures; insufficient self-control, immoderate living; anger, ill-will, hatred and irritability; bad habits, sexual excess; and putting reliance in others. In the past and in the present, all these and many more, are the cause o suffering.

The Third Noble Truth Is the Extinction or Cure of Suffering.

The threshold of understanding is reached when we realize that suffering can be brought to an end. The Path of the Buddha leads to this very goal. Suffering, although accepted by so many, is not without a remedy. Once the mind is awakened to the existence and causes, we are on the road to conquering them. Just how far we are prepared to go along the Path, depends entirely on ourselves. The causes can only be removed if we undertake a course of self-discipline and training. The knowledge that it is worth while to do so, is the first step.

The Fourth Noble Truth is the Path which leads to the End of Suffering.

No other religion or philosophy reveals so clearly the Path of Virtue, leading to deliverance. It is called the Noble Eightfold Path because it is actually one path but is subdivided into eight sections. It is the Buddhist code of mental and physical conduct which leads to the end of suffering, sorrow and despair; to the Perfect Peace, Nibbana (or "Nirvana")

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