As practitioners on the Path To Enlightenment, we begin by contemplating the three universal truths of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. Once we understand these fundamental aspects of existence, we can turn our attention to the Four Noble Truths, which provide us with a clear and concise understanding of the nature of suffering and how to overcome it. By cultivating a righteous view based on the Four Noble Truths, we can embark on the path towards peace and liberation from suffering.
Right View shines,
As a guide for the wise and the divine,
It illuminates the path of the noble ones,
And leads to the liberation of all beings, daughters and sons.
Right View sees with clarity and insight,
The Four Noble Truths that free from suffering’s plight,
It knows the nature of existence, the impermanence of all,
And the interdependence of causes that create our rise and fall.
Right View understands the law of kamma,
That actions have effect, results, and consequence.
It sees the power of intention, the mind’s guiding force,
And the role of ethics in shaping our life’s course.
Right View grasps the three characteristics of being,
Impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and no-self, freeing,
It sees through the illusions of self and identity,
And opens the way to ultimate reality.
Right View is the beginning and the end,
Of the Eightfold Path, the noble friend,
It points the way to the end of all suffering,
And the attainment of peace, wisdom, and compassionate offering.
Listen now to the teachings so sublime,
The Four Noble Truths that conquer time,
They reveal the nature of suffering and its end,
And lead to the peace that all beings befriend.
The first truth is that suffering exists,
It’s the discontent that our hearts persist,
The pains of birth, old age, sickness, and death,
And all the sorrows that steal our breath.
The second truth is that craving is the cause,
The clinging and grasping that break natural laws,
The desires that bind us to endless strife,
And keep us from the freedom of a tranquil life.
The third truth is that there is an end,
To suffering and discontent that we cannot bend,
It’s the cessation of craving, the letting go,
Of all attachments that cause us woe.
The fourth truth is the path that leads to this end,
The Eightfold Path that all wise ones befriend,
It’s the way of ethical living and meditation,
Of wisdom and compassion, the noble foundation.
Through cultivating a righteous view by understanding the Four Noble Truths, we can learn to let go of our attachments and desires, and find peace and liberation from all the suffering and discontent. So let’s explore the Four Noble Truths together and discover the time tested path towards freedom, happiness, liberation, and peace…
Right View is considered the foundation of the Eightfold Path towards liberation from suffering and discontent. It provides us with the wisdom and insight necessary to understand the nature of existence and to follow the path that leads to the end of suffering. The Four Noble Truths are at the heart of Right View, providing us with a clear and concise understanding of the nature of dukkha and how to overcome it.
Simply put, the Four Noble Truths are:
- Suffering exists – Dukkha
- Craving is the cause of suffering – Samudaya *
- There is an end to suffering – Nirodha
- The path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path – Magga
The Pali Canon presents the Four Noble Truths in a concise formula, known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, where the Buddha said:
“Monks, these Four Noble Truths are the truths of the noble ones, not common to ordinary people. What are the four?
The noble truth of suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering, union with what is displeasing is suffering, separation from what is pleasing is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering—in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering. **
The noble truth of the origin (cause) of suffering (samudaya) is this: craving (tanha) leads to rebirth, is bound up with delight and passion, and seeks pleasure now here, now there—that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence.
The noble truth of the cessation of suffering (nirodha) is this: the complete fading away and cessation of that craving, its abandonment and relinquishment, liberation and detachment from it.
The noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering (magga) is this: the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.”
The reference for this is the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which is the first discourse given by the Buddha after his enlightenment. It is also known as the “Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dhamma” or the “Turning of the Dhamma Wheel.” The discourse can be found in the Samyutta Nikaya (SN 56.11) in the Pali Canon, which is the collection of Buddhist scriptures that preserved the Buddha’s original teachings. For more than 2500 years, the Theravada tradition has been recognized for its role in preserving the original source text, known as the Pali Canon.
The Four Noble Truths are often summarized in the Pali Canon as follows:
- Dukkha: This is suffering or unsatisfactoriness. All beings experience suffering in some form or another, whether it be physical or mental pain, frustration, dissatisfaction, or unease.
- Samudaya: This is the cause of suffering, which is craving or attachment to sensual pleasures, to becoming, and to non-becoming. After death, craving is the spark that ignites the flame of a new existence.
- Nirodha: This is the cessation of suffering, which is the complete and permanent cessation of craving, the abandonment of that craving, the liberation from that craving, detachment, cessation, Nibbana.
- Magga: This is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering, which is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is a set of eight practices: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Upon reflection, it is the third Noble Truth which teaches that the ultimate goal of spiritual practice is the cessation of suffering. The cessation of suffering means the complete elimination of craving, which is the root cause of all suffering according to The Buddha’s teachings.
These Four Noble Truths provide a concise and comprehensive framework for understanding the nature of suffering and discontent, its causes, and the path to its cessation.
The Four Noble Truths offer a straightforward and complete structure for comprehending the causes and nature of suffering and how to end it. Understanding and applying the Four Noble Truths is the foundation of Gotama Buddha’s path towards liberation from suffering and discontent.
The Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are interconnected and interdependent. The Noble Truths are the foundation of the Eightfold Path, and the Eightfold Path leads to the realization of the Noble Truths. The first step on the Eightfold Path is Right View, which includes understanding the Four Noble Truths. Without this understanding, it is impossible to progress on the path towards liberation. Therefore, the Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path begin and end with one another, and both are necessary for the attainment of enlightenment.
Understanding the Four Noble Truths can bring balance to mental health and overall well-being. The Four Noble Truths provide a profound understanding of the nature of suffering and being discontent, its causes, and the path to its cessation. By realizing these truths through direct insight and personal practice, one can transform the mind and live a life of greater peace, happiness, and wisdom. This understanding can lead to liberation from suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. Therefore, exploring the Four Noble Truths is highly beneficial for anyone seeking to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
*Craving: Craving refers to a strong desire or longing that arises in the mind, often accompanied by a sense of eagerness and attachment towards the desired object. It is a mental state that motivates us to seek out pleasure and avoid pain, and can be a source of suffering when we become overly attached to the object of our cravings.
**The Five Aggregates: refer to the five components that make up a person’s experience of reality: form (or physical matter), feelings, perception, [free-will], and consciousness. This is what makes a living sentient, a being living sentient being.