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Four Noble Truths Explained

The Four Noble Truths are considered the bedrock of the Buddha’s teachings, representing an enlightened understanding of the human condition, and a roadmap to lasting peace.

The First Truth: Life has suffering (dukkha)

This doesn’t mean there is only misery, but rather points to the inevitable unsatisfactoriness and impermanence within the human experience.

We experience:

  • Physical suffering: pain, illness, discomfort
  • Emotional suffering: sadness, anger, anxiety, fear
  • Mental suffering: worry, doubt, confusion

The Second Truth: Suffering has a cause (samudaya)

Suffering isn’t random. It arises from the way we relate to our expérience, sometimes expressed as: Suffering = Pain x Resistance

We can find the origin of our suffering in craving – clinging to things we desire, and aversion to things we dislike.We can examine our craving in relation to any and all experience , such as:

  • Pleasure: wanting more of what feels good
  • Security: fearing loss and change
  • Control: wanting things to be a certain way

This craving leads to suffering because we can’t always get what we desire. And even when we do, the satisfaction is fleeting. Clinging to things creates resistance to change, and change is the only constant in life.

The Third Truth: Suffering can end (nirodha)

There’s good news! This cycle of suffering isn’t inevitable. It can be broken.

Once we understand the root cause of suffering (craving and clinging), we know where to focus our attention. We begin to see that letting go of craving and clinging will allow us to find true ease and peace.

The Fourth Truth: There’s a path to end suffering (magga)

The Noble Eightfold Path is the Buddha’s teaching on how to cultivate understanding, conduct and practices with which we can extinguish the fire of suffering and experience lasting peace.

When we commit to this path, we learn to:

  • Develop insight: seeing reality from a place of wisdom and clarity
  • Cultivate intention: acting with kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others
  • Train the mind: moving from distraction to concentration, mindfulness and awareness

Reflect on how to spend your time, your energy, your money and other resources wisely.