What are The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism?

buddha is teaching on four noble truths of buddhism to students

The four noble truths of buddhism were taught by Buddha as a synthesis of his teachings. His amazing love and compassion push him to look for a permanent solution to all human problems and the end of suffering. Amazing as it sounds that was his task. He discovered the bitterness of life; but not as his own suffering (He was a prince, he had luxury, servants and he was away from all human problems and suffering) rather he felt the suffering of others. This is why he is known as a real Buddha of Compassion.

Human beings are full of selfishness and that is the reason they think of their own happiness all the time. People are capable to do anything to achieve what they think is happiness.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism cover the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. These are the four principles that the Buddha came to understand during his meditation.

  1. Suffering (Dukkha): We all suffer
  2. Origin of suffering (Samudāya): Desire is the root of suffering
  3. Cessation of suffering (Nirodha): Nirvana exists
  4. Path to the cessation of suffering (Magga): The eightfold path

1. The First Noble Truth: Suffering (Dukkha)

life suffering

 It looks childish to say that we all suffer. It seems so obvious. The amazing thing is this: Why we do not do anything to fade suffering on the planet? If it is so obvious that we all suffer then, why we are so unconscious of such statement?

There is something really wrong in those creatures that we call “Humans.” Sometimes animal show more concern about pain and this is really sad: Animals kill for two reasons: Defense or to eat. Humans do that to robber or for envy, etc. Even worst, sometimes, they kill without any reason!!!

People are not aware of pain, even when they are very smart. People are blind because of their selfish desires. They had created a world where they are the center of everything and they do not care about others.

If people know what pain is, if they feel pain… then, why do they make others to suffer? It is so easy to say: “We all suffer.” The matter is the root of pain and the reason to cause suffering, even to the people who they love.

Yes, all creatures suffer in one way or another way. Pain and suffering are part of what we call life. What kind of life is that anyway? Maybe people do not even know what life is or what life is for. I think, it is only my opinion, I think people do not know why they are alive. Actually, that is what was taught in ancient times.

The Need for Reflection and Love

One of the roles of philosophy was to understand the purpose of life. Great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Kong Fuzi (Confucius), and many others including Buddha tried to explain the reason of life. As always that is not for everybody because the majority is happy to go shopping and to have parties.  They lack a beautiful capacity that leads serious people into deep reflections.

Suffering is the outcome of something that people do not want to study. Usually people just want to have an empirical knowledge, but not a practical knowledge. The first one comes from a person, a book, internet, etc. The latter comes from within (Jnana Yoga).

Taking ideas from other people is not real knowledge. True knowledge comes from inner reflection. Whoever wants to have it most learn deep meditation. Deep reflection comes from deed meditation.

One of the reasons why the world is a mess is this one: The planet lacks deep thinkers, deep philosophers. All those who are pretending to fix the world, but do not know how to meditate, will never fix this planet. They will always have their own priorities and their own interest. Love is beyond our own priorities and our own interest. Love is the force that makes you live for others, not for you.

The Great Masters taught to others so they can become masters too. A real Master is pure love beyond our understanding. Love comes from inside, not from outside.

Love moved Siddhartha to become a Buddha. No, he was not looking to be a master; he was looking how to help others. That is a big difference. Those who meditate to become masters will never be masters. They lack love, real love.

No, learning to love others is not an easy task. It is easy to love those who love you; but it is not easy to love those who hate you. A Great Master said: “Love your enemies.” But, his disciples, after 2000 years of his teachings, are far from loving others, even when they preach to do so.

Suffering is the cause of more suffering. Peace and love can help us to fade suffering. Both (Peace and love) most come from within.

2. The Second Noble Truth: Origin of suffering (Samudāya)

Desire is the root of suffering.

But how can anyone live without desire? Is desire evil? What about the desire to be better or to have a better life? What desire is Buddha talking about?

Desire? We can say there are two types of desire:

  • Non-Selfish desire.
  • Selfish desire.

The first one comes from real love. Love, here, means to help other beings, to care for others, etc. The second one comes from selfishness, which is the root of many problems.

A spiritual yearning, for example, is marvellous as long as its root is love. Nevertheless, sometimes it comes from selfishness, then it is not pure.

The problem with selfishness desires is that people do anything, even stealing or killing, to get what they want. Selfishness desires are a poison to the soul. It does not mean that you cannot have what you want. We all have the right to fight for what we need as long as we do not hurt anyone. Buddha talked about having the proper means to be alive. Having a job is important and you can get whatever you want because you work for it. Getting things from stealing or deceiving is totally wrong and the cause is a selfish desire.

Yoga philosophy teaches us to love others and to care about other beings. A yogi cannot harm by any means, but in self-defense only. Therefore, having something by wrong means is never acceptable.

Selfish desires come from an impure mind. That is the reason to clean our mind through deep meditation. A yogi learns to control his/her senses. It might be seen really difficult, but it is a matter of patience and perseverance.

A yogi meditates on his/her desires (Non-selfish and selfish desires) to understand his/her nature. A yogi looks for the inner truth and all selfish desires are obstacles to achieve total freedom and real blessing. That is a task nobody can do, but the yogi himself/herself.

Buddha, for example, went from a life of total comfort to a life of total poverty; from a life with three palaces to a life in the forest. He experimented the extremes and finally he discovers THE MIDDLE WAY. The matter is not to go to any extreme; it is fanaticism. The matter is to understand slowly our own nature.

Life is beautiful! Nature is amazing! The universe is wonderful! A selfish mentality cannot see the beauty within each moment of life. A selfish mentality is so limited and hollow. There is a huge potential within all human beings; but selfishness blind them all.

Those how are trapped into selfishness should learn to practice Karma Yoga and develop Bhakti Yoga to change the way they perceive life. Life is not a bunch of concepts, ideas and opinions within the mind. Life is beyond all concepts, ideas and opinions about life.

Do not let your own mind to blind you and open your heart to real love beyond human concepts. Meditating in our own selfishness is a need for the soul because it is a huge load on top of the soul. Let your soul be free from all those ideas of life and getting more and more without limits. You will die and you will not be able to take anything.

It is better to learn to be free, to be human, to love others and have a peaceful heart.

Happiness and Pleasure

There are several differences between happiness and pleasure:

– Happiness comes from inside and pleasure from outside.
The first one is a inner state. Shakespeare said: “Happiness depends on inner circumstances.” It is the fruit of inner peace and tranquility. This is beyond any physical object or person.

– Happiness is freedom and pleasure is slavery.
Happiness, being an inner state, does not depend on objects or persons. It does not create dependency. On the other hand, pleasure depends on having something or someone and therefore, it creates dependency.

– Happiness last a long time and pleasure last a short time.
Happiness last for a long time because it does not depend on anything, it comes from within. Nevertheless, pleasure ends when we lose the object or person that causes pleasure.

– Happiness brings comfort and pleasure addiction.
Happiness is comfort by itself and it brings comfort. Anything that creates dependency creates addiction, so pleasure is not an exemption.

Whoever wants to be happy most go beyond physical objects and/or persons, that person most look inside in his/her own inner realm.

Happiness cannot create pain and, on the contrary, it releases pain or it makes it tolerable. Pleasure is just the opposite: It brings pain and it makes pain stronger. Why? Because it creates dependency, it last a short time (Then you need to look for more pleasure), addiction comes as an outcome.

All dependency, all addictions create pain because slavery is suffering. Buddha said: “Life is like a coin. On one side it shows you pleasure, but on the other side it is pain.” Anything that produces pleasure will bring pain sooner or later. When the person who makes you happy goes then pain comes. When you lose something you like then pain comes.

Real happiness does not depend on anything or on anyone. It is within and wherever you go it goes with you because it is inside of you!

Desire Gives Birth to Suffering

Any desire looks for one thing: Pleasure. People want to be happy, but instead of happiness people get pleasure. Sooner or later what they call “happiness” becomes a pain or that happiness” just go. It was not real happiness, but pleasure.

The more desires (Selfish-desires) a person has the more he will suffer. Nobody can make all his/her desires to come true. Not even really rich people can have everything. Usually they lack real love, something that money cannot buy.

This anxiety for satisfying all desires takes people to suffer more and more. They end up really confused and frustrated. Happiness is only discovered through deep meditation and getting into a real deep state of inner peace and blessing. Atman is happiness beyond human limitations! Atman is inside of every human being. Everything else is Maya (Illusion).

3. The Third Noble Truth: Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha)

Maya (Illusion) controls us and desire (Selfish desire) is the root of all pains. Our mind is under the influence of Maya. The latter makes us believe that we all are separated from each other; but ancient philosophy teaches us that we all are one.

The Great Masters, such as Krishnamurti, emphasizes the idea that there are two types of people: Ignorant and sages. The first ones are those who do not know the path and, therefore, they are totally trapped into Maya. The Sages are those who are free, or almost free, from Maya.

Samadhi is a inner state of blessing beyond the mind and human understanding. Samadhi is understood only through direct experience, but not from intellectual data.

Samadhi is an state beyond Maya, beyond the mind. It is the mind which is trapped into Maya. The mind usually  is controlled by selfish desires. Almost everything we want comes from selfish desires. Then we get trapped into Maya: The Illusion to Think we are separated from others.

Nirvana is cessation of all those selfish or human desires. Nirvana is pure love without condition. Nirvana is absolute freedom, far away from any concept or idea.

some people are able to experiment inner peace when they practice meditation. That is not Samadhi. It is far, far away, from Samadhi. Nevertheless, that experience is great. A deep meditation can lead a person, after years of practicing, into Samadhi and the experience of The Void. Then Nirvana is experimented.

People talk a lot about love, but pure and genuine love is experimented in Samadhi when a person gets into Nirvana. The latter is not a place and never far from anyone. It is within you. Usually nirvana is translated as “Heaven.” It really is so. The Great Master from the Gospels was asked where heaven was and his answer was: “In the midst of you!” Sometimes that was translated like this: “Among you.” But even on the that translation he is not talking about a place and he is pointing out right where people are: “Among you.”

Nirvana is everywhere because it is within each human being. Maya is taking it away from us and selfish desires are the bait. Whoever wants total freedom or absolute happiness most understand his/her more inmost desires.

Whoever is looking for total freedom or real happiness in the world is totally mistaken because freedom and happiness are within us!

4. The Fourth Noble Truth: Path to the Cessation of Suffering (Magga)

eight steps towards enlightenment of four noble truths of buddhism

There are the eight steps toward enlightenment and liberation, also called eightfold path.

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right  effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right Samadhi

Enlightenment comes as a result of “Inner silence” via meditation. Liberation comes from understanding Maya (Illusion) and the power of Mara (The Ego).

Modern psychology call Subconscious to the inner thoughts we are not conscious of. That is Mara who, form the cave of Plato, salves people to pleasure with the power of desire!

Let us explain this path in a very simple way, so we all understand a bit:

1. Right view

This is the capacity of being objective. People are not objective because they have prejudices and preconceptions. People tend to criticize everything and everyone. People are trapped into duality and they cannot see clearly and beyond their ideas. right view is the way to see beyond your own opinions, ideas, preconceptions and prejudices.

2. Right intention

Everybody believes he/she has good intentions; but deep down in the subconscious exists Mara: The Ego. It is not compatible with light or wisdom. So, the disciple most understand that and be aware of it until one day he/she is able to face Mara.

3. Right speech

Telling always the truth is not always convenient; so people tend to deceive or lie. The right speech is telling the truth and talking with love and compassion. We should avoid slandering, criticizing, cursing, complaining, etc.

4. Right action

A real yogi does what is right, even when people do not understand him/her. The matter is not pleasing others, but doing what is right even when it is not the best for the yogi.

5. Right livelihood

A yogi most avoid any wrong doing, therefore the way he lives is always with honor.

6. Right effort

It is important to find the best way to do things without wasting energies or wasting the less possible. The right effort comes when you know how to do things in the best way possible. Do not ever waste your time and always fight for what has to be done.

7. Right mindfulness

Mara, the Ego, tries to deceive the disciple. Mara wants to avoid enlightenment at any cost. Enlightenment is light and the Ego is darkness. Mara enjoys making believe a disciple that he/she achieved enlightenment.

8. Right Samadhi

Mara will avoid this state at any cost. The Ego hates this state. This is total light and beyond the mind. This is the experience of Atman (The brightest light, which is within every human being). This state does not take a few days to achieve; but years of right effort.

The Buddha described the Eightfold Path as a technique to reach enlightenment.

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