Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths
Siddharta Gautama was twenty-nine years old when he abandoned his family to search for a means to bring to an end his and other’s suffering after studying meditation for many years. At age thirty-five, Siddharta Gautama sat down under the shade of a fig tree to meditate and he determined to meditate until he reached enlightenment. After seven weeks he received the Great Enlightenment which he referred to as the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path. Henceforth he became known as the Buddha.
In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh provides a citation from the Buddha, which gives insight into the cure of our distress. “I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering” (Thich Nhat Hanh 3). When we recognize and acknowledge our own suffering, the Buddha, which is present in everyone, will look at it, discover what has brought it about, and prescribe a course of action that can transform it into peace, joy, and liberation. Suffering is the means the Buddha used to liberate himself, and it is also the means by which we can become free.
The teachings of the Buddha revolve around this central tenant known as the "Four Noble Truths". The Four Noble Truths represent the basis of the Buddha's teaching and form the central foundation of Buddhism. Historically, Lord Buddha preached on these topics during his first public commentary following his enlightenment.
The First Noble Truth states that "Life is Dukkha." Dukkha, in English “suffering", exists, even that this is the natural and universal state of beings. To live, one must suffer because it is an inevitable part of life, which one cannot avoid. All beings must endure physical suffering as well as enduring psychological suffering the form of many human emotions. Human beings are subject to impermanence and uncertainty which very often, causes us to associate with things that are unpleasant and disassociate with things that are pleasant. This may seem a bit cynical and may suggest to many individuals that Buddhism is a dismal, fatalistic religion yet it just implies we must accept the good with the bad. Buddha’s first noble truth is a statement that can obviously not be denied.
In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, the author provides insight into the truth of suffering. “To succeed in the practice, we must stop trying to prove that everything is suffering. In fact we must stop trying to prove anything. If we touch the truth of suffering with our mindfulness, we will be able to recognize and identify our specific suffering, its specific causes, and the way to remove these causes and an end to suffering” (Thich Nhat Hanh 22).
Expressed in a slightly different way, one may conclude that everything in the world, is ultimately unsatisfying. One also may conclude: it is impossible to satisfy ourselves with worldly things. This may be the best translation of them all. The fact that we cannot be ultimately satisfied means all aspects of...