Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Four Noble Truths

On rising up early in the morning, I realised that it has been awhile that I reminded myself of the basic fundamentals of Buddhism. And talking about the fundamentals, The Four Noble Truths, form the four pillars of Buddhism. It is believed that the first teaching which Buddha gave after attaining enlightenment was "The Four Noble Truths". The teachings on the Four Noble Truths explain the nature of dukkha (suffering), its causes, and how it can be overcome. Realisation of these four noble truths can help you take first step towards understanding this world and in turn help in achieving mental peace. Going through these golden words, I thought of sharing them with all the readers as well, so that they also can gain some knowledge about it or revise them in their mind, in case they already know it.

The Four Noble Truths

  1. Dukkha - Life means suffering.
  2. Origin of Dukkha - The origin of suffering is attachment.
  3. Cessation of Dukkha - The cessation of suffering is attainable.
  4. Path to cessation of Dukkha - The Eightfold path to cessation of Dukkha.


To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

The emphasis on dukkha is not intended to be pessimistic, but rather to identify the nature of dukkha, in order that sufferings may be overcome. The Buddha acknowledged that there is both happiness and sorrow in the world, but he taught that even when we have some kind of happiness, it is not permanent; it is subject to change. And due to this unstable, impermanent nature of all things, everything we experience is said to have the quality of duhkha or unsatisfactoriness. Therefore unless we can gain insight into that truth, and understand what is really able to give us happiness, and what is unable to provide happiness, the experience of dissatisfaction will persist.

Origin of Dukkha

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

Cessation of Dukkha

The third truth teaches that although there is suffering in this world, but it is possible to overcome this suffering. Once we have developed a genuine understanding of the causes of suffering, such as craving and ignorance, then we can completely eradicate these causes and thus be free from suffering. The main goal of all the spiritual practises in Buddhism is cessation from dukkha and attain nirvana (ultimate enlightenment).

Path to cessation of Dukkha

The fourth noble truth tells the path to be followed in order to attain nirvana. This path is known as 'The Eightfold Path' which includes:

1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

These steps are not something which are to be understood and applied one by one in life, but are all interdependent principles. They are to be understood as eight significant dimensions of one’s behaviour - mental, spoken, and bodily - that operate in dependence on one another; taken together, they define a complete path, or way of living.

What a great morning it has been for me, after reminding myself of the four noble truths and it feels as if I have refreshed my mind and cleared the dust off it and again see this world from a different view. Hope it does the same to you!

Source(s) : Wikipedia,,

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