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The Four Noble Truths:

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths were envisioned by Siddhartha now known as The Buddha while meditating underneath a Bodhi tree as he was seeking a path to achieve freedom from suffering.

Buddha after careful contemplation envisioned a way for all of us to free ourselves from suffering. The paths that he envisioned after reaching enlightenment for all of us to free ourselves from suffering are reveled to us in The Four Noble truths, The Eightfold Path, and The Five Precepts. They are the basis of Buddha’s teachings, and the core of Buddhism.





The Four Noble truths:

1 The truth of suffering (Dukkha)There is suffering. Life is suffering.

2 The truth of the cause of suffering. (Samudaya) Suffering is caused by our attachment to desires.

3 The truth of an end to suffering. (Nirhodha) Suffering can be overcome, and happiness attained by overcoming our attachment to all of our desires.

4 The truth of the Eightfold path that frees us from suffering. (Magga) Buddha taught that by following the steps outlined in the Eightfold Path we would end our attachment to that which we desire, and end our suffering.

The First Noble Truth:

Dukkha is a word in the Pali language that refers to anything that is unpleasant, and causes us suffering. Dukkha includes the negative emotions that we experience in life such as, distress, sorrow, grief, anger, and hate. Physical pain and even discomfort are also Dukkha.

‘All beings have their suffering. Some suffer too little, some suffer too much.” ~Buddha

Buddha’s first Noble Truth is that life is suffering. All of us humans suffer in one way or another. There are many different forms of suffering that we all will experience in our earthly lives.

Birth is our first experience with suffering. We spend much time growing carefree in the safety of our mother’s womb. One minute we are in a warm dark place, and the next we are thrust out, covered in blood, into a brightly lit chilly room surrounded by strangers. We then receive a firm slap on our hind end to welcome us to the real world.

The one person who also suffers unbearable pain during our birth is of course our mother.

Sickness brings us suffering. We all will become sick at some point in our lives from a simple cold to more serious diseases. While a cold, or flu is more discomfort than pain, there are other conditions such as cancer that are decidedly more painful.

Along with sickness are injuries. Injuries can befall us all. We can have a small accident resulting in slight injuries and some pain, or a major accident causing us critical injuries, severe pain, or even death.

Death is suffering. There will also be suffering in our deaths as well. This suffering will come to us both in the form of the physical pain of our death, and the emotional pain from not knowing what really lies beyond deaths door and awaits us on the other side. Our death also causes suffering for our loved ones, as their death will cause suffering for us.

The answers as to why we suffer can be found in Buddha’s second noble truth.




The Second Noble Truth:

Samudaya is a Pali word that simply means that the cause of our suffering is our attachment to desires. (Tanha)

We insist on having an insatiable attachment to all of the things that we desire, and that is the main cause of our suffering. According to the Buddha, all of our suffering is caused by our unwillingness to let go of that which we cling to. We as human beings almost always chose to desire something more than our current situation has provided us.

We in mass seem to forget that we are not physical beings, but spiritual beings trapped inside of our physical bodies. We base our desires on the physical reality that we believe to be true, instead of the reality that we have merely forgotten.

We are all guilty of our attachment to this physical reality. If we want to end our suffering we must let go of the reality here in the physical that we believe to be true, and embrace the truth. It is our attachment to our physical bodies, and all things contained within our physical reality that causes our continued suffering.

Let go of your attachments, and Embrace Nirvana.

If we were not so vehemently attached to that which we desire we would have no negative emotion attached to losing that which we desire. Are you attached to material needs, sensual pleasure, and the desire to have more for yourself here in your perceive physical reality? Let them go, and end your suffering.

The Law of impermanence teaches us that all things including the self are in fact impermanent and cannot last forever. (learn more here)

Buddha spoke of our ignorance of the power that desire has over us. When we begin to understand that are desires are the root cause of our suffering we are ready for the third noble truth.

The Third Noble Truth:

Buddha’s third Noble truth instructs us that there is a path for us to free ourselves from suffering. (Nirhodha) The path for us to reach enlightenment, or nirvana starts with letting go of that which we are afraid to lose.

Buddha’s first three Noble Truths have taught us that life is suffering, and the cause of our suffering is ignorance, and attachment to desires. We have learned from Buddha that there is a path for us to reach enlightenment, and to be free from suffering. One who has reached enlightenment has successfully released themselves from all of their desires, cravings, and attachments.

The steps that we must take along this path are outlined in Buddha’s Fourth Noble Truth.

The Fourth Noble Truth:

Buddha discovered a path to provide all of us with a means to end our suffering, and reach enlightenment is known as The Eightfold Path. It is the path between the two extremes of absolute luxury, and the path of asceticism which is the act of renouncing all forms of indulgence.

The middle path is the Eightfold Path that leads to Nirvana.

The Eightfold Paths are:

Right understanding: The wisdom to know and understand ourselves, and everything that is around us.

Right Thought: Your thoughts as well as your intentions must be kept true, of a positive nature and pure at heart.

Right Speech: The words you speak must be of a compassionate, positive, and uplifting nature when speaking to others, and also to yourself as well.

Right Action: Your actions must be carried out in a compassionate and helpful way, and not hurtful to any others.

Right Livelihood: Earning your living in an honest way without taking advantage of, causing harm to, or cheating others.

Right Effort: You must put your energy and effort into achieving wholesome states.

Right Mindfulness: We must be fully aware of what we are doing, and focus our thoughts on the present moment.

Right Concentration: This is often associated with meditation, and training to focus our attention on just one single thing, and in the present moment.




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Recommended Reading:

The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume 1

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom


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