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The Four Noble Truths - The Fundamental Proposition of Buddhism

The Buddha’s very first teaching was on the subject of the Four Noble Truths.
Comprehension of the Four Noble Truths is essential to achieving the goal, Nirvana,
a state beyond suffering outside of words or description. Nirvana can only be experienced.

The
1st Noble Truth

The Truth of
Suffering
(The Disease)

Happiness is always fleeting; something is missing or not quite as it should or could be.
One is dissatisfied and frustrated. There are mental and physical suffering components:

Cause and Effect View

Suffering
produces the
causes for
suffering.

1st Noble Truth
and 2nd Noble Truth
have a circular relationship.



Truth 1 leads to Truth 2
Truth 2 leads back to 1
Cause to Effect -
Effect to Cause

Physical Suffering
Mental Suffering
Birth, old age, sickness, death. Birth is the gateway through which all other suffering naturally follow.
Contact with what one despises, not being able to get what one wants, separation, frustration
The 2nd Noble Truth
The Truth of
the Cause of
Suffering
(The Diagnosis)
It is sensible to acknowledge the existence of a problem, or a disease. It is intelligent to investigate the origin or the cause of the problem or of the disease. It is reasonable to imagine how life could be without the problem or without the disease.
It is prudent to investigate and follow a path or a treatment that will bring about the removal of the problem or disease.
These points are universal and apply to any problem or any disease.

Cause and Effect View


The cause of
suffering
produces
suffering.

The 3rd Noble Truth
The Truth of the
Cessation of
Suffering
(The Cure)
For a cure to work, the patient must have faith in it. This faith is not blind faith but faith based on critical investigation and reason. The patient must have confidence that the treatment is going to work. The patient must clearly focus on the cure’s ultimate goal which is, in the case of Buddhism, to bring about an end to suffering. This includes the suffering of here and now, happiness and good fortune in future lives and ultimately the experience of Nirvana. Nirvana is beyond words or description.

Cause and Effect View

Cessation of
suffering is the
effect of the path
that leads to
cessation.

The 3rd Noble Truth
and the 4th Noble Truth
are dynamic.


The 4th leads to the 3rd,
which leads to another
plane of experience.

 

The 4th Noble Truth
The Truth of the
Path Leading to
the Cessation of
Suffering
(The Treatment)
The Eightfold Path is the treatment of the disease of suffering.
The Eightfold Path is the Middle Way between all extremes.
Cause and Effect View

The path to the end
of suffering is the
cause of cessation
of suffering.

The Ultimate Problem - Ignorance

A reality that assumes
the existence of an
independent self, ego,
personality or soul
must have, by logic,
another reality that is
NOT the independent
self, personality or soul.



Out of this dichotomy
arises the need to judge
and assess everything that is not the self for its merit, desirability or non-
desirability. This results
in confusion and
unhappiness.

The Ultimate Goal - Nirvana
Ignorance means not seeing things as they really are. Seeing the self as ‘real’ creates the notion that there is something not the self. The misconception of believing in a real self naturally gives rise to
attachment and aversion. Thus ignorance is the root cause of all suffering.
Nirvana is beyond description or words. The Buddha said that nirvana is supreme happiness and peace. It is immortal, unformed, beyond earth, water, fire, air, unfathomable and immeasurable. The end of suffering can only be experienced and not described.