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2024-02-22 13:55

The Four Noble Truths

Disclaimer: This document was originally created by a monk and edited by myself. The document represents my understanding of the four noble truths and should not be interpreted as an offical document of Wat Tampa.

                The Four Noble Truths are central to all Buddhist teachings. They are easy to understand but require continued application and practice to be successful. The experience grows richer and more profound as the practice continues. All these four noble truths are very practical and have everything to do with the present moment and how we live our lives.

The first Noble Truth is suffering, a condition that all living beings experience in various forms. Every human being is sure to pass through different stages of life. They experience both happiness and sorrow. The world and the human nature are not perfect and therefore, to live means to suffer. During our lifetime, we have to endure different physical sufferings such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death. We have to endure psychological sufferings like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression as well.  There are different degrees of sufferings but there are also positive experiences in life. We perceive comfort and happiness as the other side of sufferings. Still, life on the whole is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. We are unable to keep anything that we long for permanently. Just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, no matter how hard we try to avoid death.

 The second Nobel Truth is that the origin of suffering is attachment to transient things. The cause of suffering is craving or selfish desire. The main cause of sufferings is attachment to transient things. Transient things include the physical surrounding objects and also our ideas, feelings and on our perception of life. When we are attached to a particular object, we do not understand that these are temporary attachments and the attachments are sure to depart from us one day or the other. Therefore, we ignore what is hidden in the future. When the people and things we are passionate about and crave for leave us, we suffer!

 The third Nobel Truth is that sufferings can be eliminated by eliminating attachment. The third noble truth or the Nirodha expresses the idea that sufferings can be eliminated by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment - Desire for pleasure, Desire to become, and Desire to get. There is a simple way to end the sufferings - remove the cause of the suffering - attachment.

 The fourth Nobel Truth is that suffering can be eliminated by following Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha's teaching on the way to attain Nirvana. Every being can do by winning over his heart and mind. Nirvana, therefore, means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas.

The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped into three broad areas: (1) Wisdom (or Panna), (2) Morality (or Sila) and (3) Concentration (or Samadhi).  Wisdom comes from Right Understanding and Right Aspiration. Morality comes from Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood. Concentration comes from Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.  All of these attributes must be practiced together to be successful in obtaining Nirvana.

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