Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are thus:

1. Life means suffering
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

1. To be born is to suffer

To be born into this world means to suffer. That’s Buddha’s first Noble Truth. This is because human life isn’t perfect and neither are our surroundings. Our life in this world is subject to suffering and physical pain due to sickness, old age, disease, injury and death. We undergo mental suffering and pain due to sadness, disappointment, poverty, lust, love, fear, frustration, greed, injustice and depression.

Although suffering has various degrees of manifestation, there also lies certain conditions in life that are perceived to be the opposite of suffering such as luxury, pleasure, sex, lust, wealth, status and power. However, life in its totality remains impermanent (Anicca) because this Universe is subject to impermanence. Everything in this Universe undergoes cycles of birth, growth, decay and death. That is the Universal law we have to accept whether we are Buddhists or non-Buddhists.

What this means is, all that we strive for is subject to change. We can never hold onto anything be it life, beauty, wealth or power. Just as happy moments flash by, we too and our loved ones will eventually pass away.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

The origin of suffering is attachment to impermanence that’s perceived to bring us happiness. This is the second Noble Truth. The transient illusions (wealth, lust, power, beauty) condition our mindset into believing their permanence, thus preventing our mind from overcoming ignorance. We suffer because of our desire, passion, greed, pursue of wealth and status, by striving for fame and acceptance, or in other words – due to craving and attachment.

Due to the transient nature of what we cling onto, their loss, decay and death are natural. Thus sadness will follow happiness, old age will follow youth and death will surely follow life. The notions of “self” or “I” are in reality delusions because there is no permanent “self.” What we commonly refer to as “self” is a nonexistent entity – born in our ego which is a transient entity in the cycle of Samsara, or the ceaseless cycle of our Universe.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

This is the third Noble Truth in Buddhism. Thankfully!! Suffering CAN be eliminated through Nirodha. The meaning of Nirodha is elimination of sensual craving and worldly attachment.

The Buddha explicitly stated that attaining dispassion will eliminate suffering. Nirodha eliminates all forms of craving and attachment thus setting us off on our long journey towards ultimate salvation from suffering. What this means is that suffering can be eliminated though your own efforts independent of divine help.

Attaining dissipation is a mental process of many levels with the ultimate goal of seeking Nirvana. Nirvana basically means nonexistence in either physical or spiritual forms which frees one from suffering. However, Nirvana remains incomprehensible for those who have not attained it.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Path ( Ariya Ashtanga Marga ) explains the gradual path of self-improvement towards the cessation of rebirth and its resultant suffering. Lord Buddha described the Eightfold Path as the Middle Path as it avoids extremes of self-indulgence (such as hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism). This is the Path which leads to the end of Samsara, the cycle of rebirth.

The path to the end of suffering (Nirvana) can extend over many lifetimes, through eons in fact, throughout which every individual rebirth will be subject to karmic conditioning. However, by adhering to the Noble Eightfold Path, ignorance, delusion, craving and its resultant effects would gradually disappear as progress is made along the Path.