The Four noble truths are one of the stories covered in the book “World views: Classic and contemporary readings” by Elizabeth Hair, Mike Krist, Richard Harnett and Roger West. The four noble truths are the teaching of the Buddhist path and is a summary of the awakening path. They are the key components that helps one understand Buddhism and the teachings of Buddha.
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It is often defined in four interdependent and logical steps. The truths have been defined differently by various schools and this has changed how they are received and even understood (Mikulas & William, pg.60). The essay below will be reviewing the four noble truths with updated interpretations that make it simple for one to clearly understand what the four noble truths really entail.
The First Truth: The Truth of Suffering
The first truth states that life has its unavoidable ups and downs and people should acknowledge suffering as an important aspect in man’s life, therefore, it should not be avoided. It points out how people’s goal is to be happy. Suffering is translated from the from the word Dukkha which, is Pali word derived from the old Buddhist records in the recording of their first truth. According to James (pg.21), the first truth is considered as a category that many people often experience. For instance, frustration, loss, disconnection and even separation from things that make one happy. This truth also states that many people find happiness a completely difficult thing to hold. People are blind to the suffering that is around them and the world at large. People with unsatisfactory lives look for authentic experiences with less aversion and distraction. This is what drives people to find happiness and get away from the things that they dislike.
The Second Truth: The Truth of Causes of Suffering
Arguably, there is always a cause for the suffering that one experiences. The primary cause of people’s suffering and the distorted lives that people live is the belief that one exists as a separate individual. We get attached to our beliefs, possessions, feelings and even goals. We are a fixed identity because we hold everything to ourselves. Our lack of change and its awareness has made us hold on to specific feelings and emotions. Change is constant and many people are not ready to embrace it therefore the cause of their suffering. Buddhism defines constant change as impermanence nothing lasts forever (Machiavelli, pg.230). With impermanence, one is able to let go the idea that things should be as one wants them to be. One is now able to experience fluidity and has a greater capacity of letting go.
The Third Truth: The Truth of the End of Suffering
This third truth emphasizes that people can actually live differently. One can learn how to end the networks of the confusing emotional and psychological patterns that make people live unconsciously. Actually, the third truth lets people know that that they can recognize and accept the two truths that come before it and effectively work with them in our lives and the world in general. Also, one understands that if they loosen their self-obsession, one can gain some freedom from the reactive living and gain more comfort from the patterns that are self-indulging. The third truth also states that if one fully let’s go the illusion of an independent and separate self, the strives that people have that prevent change it is only then that one can gain the freedom and begin their journey of awakening (Machiavelli, pg.228).
The Fourth Truth: The Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering
Traditionally, this is known as the path that leads to the end of Dukkha. The early Buddhism schools referred the fourth truth as the Eightfold Path. It was after that that schools started to invent radical approaches on how one frees themselves from addictive lifestyle. Basically, anything that relieves one’s suffering can be referred to as the path. Habits that give one freedom from any bad habit or attachment is known as the path. According to Milulas (pg.61), for one to break a pattern they have to start another one to replace the existing especially in their early stages of the practice. Change requires one to be consistent, be disciplined and work hard especially for change to occur, it takes time. Meditation practice is usually at the center of the fourth truth and is sustained by how people speak, act and even work.
Conclusively, one could say that the four noble truths do not only apply to Buddhists but can also be applied to every human being. One may be correct if they said that all truths are applicable in every person’s life. For instance, people are not satisfied with their lives whenever they experience hardships in life. What most don’t know is that suffering is part of every day’s life. Therefore, one should embrace the suffering they undergo and try to evaluate the things that cause suffering in their lives. It is through changing one’s life and activities that one is able to live a good life without much suffering. However, it is wrong for one to say that they do not want to suffer. This is part of life and should be embraced in order for one to move on. When one considers the above information from a personal perspective, then we can say that the four truths are applicable in everyone’s life.
Bodhi, Bhikkhu. The noble eightfold path: The way to the end of suffering. Buddhist Publication Society, 2010.
Ford, James L. “Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix: the dialectic of myth-making in contemporary cinema.” Journal of Religion & Film? 4.2 (2016):
Machiavelli, Niccolo. “Excerpts from The Prince.” World Views: Classic and Contemporary Readings 2: 215-223.
Mikulas, William L. “Four noble truths of Buddhism related to behaviour therapy.” The Psychological Record 28.1 (1978): 59-67.
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