The Four Noble Truths (Cattâri Ariya Saccâni)
1. There is dukkha.
Dukkha (suffering, unhappiness, discontent, etc.) is inherently a part of
life. The Buddha is sometimes misquoted as saying that "life is suffering,"
but although he stated that suffering is in the nature of life, he never said
that our life experiences are limited to suffering alone.
The First Noble Truth may be understood in several ways. For one thing,
the conditioned phenomena of the universe in which we live are ultimately
unsatisfactory, due to impermanence and other factors. Not getting what
one wants is dukkha; getting what one doesn’t want is dukkha; separation
from beloved persons and possessions is dukkha; birth is dukkha; pain is
dukkha; old age, disease, and death are dukkha.
2. This is the origin (arising) of dukkha.
Dukkha arises due to craving (tanha). While craving is not the only
cause of dukkha, it is a primary cause—and also one that we do have
some control over. When we have a craving that we cannot fulfill, we
then experience unhappiness. In addition, craving (along with other
factors) helps to perpetuate Samsâra (the cycle of birth-and-death), in
which we repeatedly experience dukkha.
While the Second Noble Truth asserts craving as a cause of dukkha--
and craving for pleasure undeniably can lead to suffering--note that
the experiencing of pleasure isn't the problem; the mindless pursuit of
it is. Buddhism doesn't condemn pleasure per se, only those pleasures
that are illegal, immoral, and/or harmful. In the case of monks or nuns,
whatever is a violation of monastic rules is condemned, of course.
3. This is the cessation of dukkha.
Whatever is subject to origination is subject to cessation. * In other
words, whatever has a beginning, also has an ending. Dukkha can
be brought to an end through detachment from, and relinquishing of
craving. When the cause of dukkha—craving—does not arise, then
dukkha does not arise. The state of total liberation from dukkha (and
its causes) is called Nibbâna (Nirvâna).
4. This is the Path that leads to the cessation of dukkha.
The Path or method of practice that leads to the cessation of dukkha
(through the cessation of craving) is the Noble Eightfold Path. The
factors of this path are: Right Understanding (or view), Right Thought
(or intention), Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort,
Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
This Path ‘that leads to the cessation of dukkha’ may also be defined as
the Path that leads to Happiness, Liberation, and Peace.
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