The Four Noble Truths in Buddhism
The Four Noble truths in Buddhism, also called the Four Holy Truths, are the beginning of the cessation of suffering in life. In this article, I’m going to lay out what each of them are, hopefully in a way that easy to understand.
- The First Noble Truth is Suffering
- The Second Noble Truth is the Creation of Suffering
- The Third Noble Truth is the Cessation of Creating Suffering
- The Fourth Noble Truth is Refraining from Doing the Things That Cause Suffering
The First Noble Truth
The first noble truth is suffering. It is realizing that all things suffer. My dog for example, looks incredibly sad right now. It’s a rainy day so she can’t go outside and chase butterflies. As a human, we can cause ourselves to suffer by wishing the circumstances that we are in were different. By wishing I hadn’t eaten that donut because my stomach is killing me.
Or something a little more serious like yelling at someone when I’m playing an online video game, because they told me I’m terrible at the game. I can let my ego as an awesome video game player (I really actually suck at video games) make me angry, and I react stupidly. Or I can stay calm and realize that I am not as good as what I think I am and react with acceptance of the persons frustration with my lack of ability to be a good player.
The Second Noble Truth
The Second noble truth is the creation of suffering. When I react in an inappropriate way to the other gamers frustration of me being terrible at playing video games. I create suffering. Because after I realize that I reacted in an inappropriate way and made an enemy instead of a friend. As the saying goes, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”.
That is not the only way we cause suffering, however. We can also cause suffering with what we put into our body. If we consume large amounts of alcohol, we create suffering. If we consume almost anything in excess, we create suffering. Including food, like I mentioned above about the donut.
It is important to realize that we don’t always have control of our surroundings or the people around us. Like the other players in the video game being frustrated with my bad gameplay. But by accepting their frustration and replying in a calm way. You choose not to let their anger control you.
The Third Noble Truth
The third noble truth is the cessation of creating suffering. We do this by not doing the things that create our suffering. Such as yelling at the other players for insulting my ego as an awesome video game player. Or drinking an excess amount of alcohol to drown my sorrows. It’s refraining from doing those things that cause us to suffer in the long run. Right now, they may seem nice. But in reality, they will cause suffering. This is where we gain the self-discipline to not do what is causing the suffering.
It is also important to realize here that most likely you will fall short of getting it perfect the first go around. It can take some time to change habits. The important thing is to get back on the straight and narrow path after you fall off. This leads me to the last noble truth.
The Fourth Noble Truth
The fourth noble truth, aka the noble eightfold path, takes us to our destination. This path is similar to the straight and narrow path they speak of in Christianity. The noble eightfold path consists of:
- Right View
- Right Thinking
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Diligence
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
By practicing the eightfold path, we eventually will reach our destination of no more suffering. We will be free from the ego’s reactions and our personal desires of things in the material world to make us happy.
Our default state of mind is to be content. Although the default state can become a state of anxiety. We must change the state of mind from anxiety to contentment. When we let go of the illusion that we are in control of everything. Then we can step onto the noble eightfold path of righteousness to reach our destination, nirvana.