The Four Noble Truths: 苦集滅道
The Four Noble Truths are the core teachings of the Buddha; yet they are probably the most misunderstood of the Buddha’s teachings. The Four Noble Truths have a clear and simple message; it is the nature of life that all beings will face difficulties. By correctly following and practicing the Buddha’s teachings, one can transcend these difficulties and ultimately become enlightened, liberated, and free .
The Four Noble Truths are:
- The origin of (dukkha) suffering 苦
- The truth of suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness苦因
- The truth of the cessation of dukkha (能) 滅
- The path leading to the cessation of dukkha 道 (方法)
The First Noble Truth (輪迴 Sufferings of cyclic existence)
Truth of Sufferings 苦: Experiencing birth, aging, sickness, and death. Encountering hostile people and unwanted situations. Being separated from loved ones and from what we desire. Suffering anxiety, dissatisfaction, discontentment etc. Suffering mentally and physically. Due to Impermanence, anything that is born, formed, constructed, or created, will face aging, decay, break-down /sickness, and death/extinct. The Buddha said that, we are composed of nothing but five heaps (Skandhas), aggregates, or conglomerations of individuality.
The Five Skandhas:
- Form 型與四大: The physical elements of earth (solidity), Water (fluidity), Fire (heat), Air (Movement), and Space (cavities)——-all of which comprise our human and all sentient beings.
- Feelings / Sensations 六塵 (五根與心意): The five senses…sight (eye), sound (ear), smell (nose), taste (tongue), and touch ( skin). Buddha added another sensory organ
- “Mind” –the six sense .
- Perceptions 六入功能: Combines Form, feelings, and sensations with recognition and judgments.
- Intentionality / Will 分別, 執著: One’s wishes/intent/motives direct the mind, which controls the way we think, speak, and act. Your intentions establish the priorities in your life. Your past intentions / conditions perpetuate your present intentions, habits, and propensities. This is where Karma is created.
- Consciousness 六識: Visual consciousness (eye), auditory consciousness (ear), olfactory consciousness(nose), gustatory consciousness (Taste), tactile consciousness (body), and mental consciousness, which you presently think of as yours, is comprised of six different basic facets.
- The Second Noble Truth (Origin of the cause of suffering (Dukkha))
- Origin of Sufferings 集: The very fact that this body and mind have come into being through contaminated actions and disturbing emotions, our ignorance is like that of darkness , unable to see the fundamental nature of phenomena and the connection between actions and their effects. Our search for (contaminated) pleasure preoccupies us and takes up most of our energy , yet it is doomed to failure from the start because none of these pleasure can give us the real and lasting happiness we crave. These cravings and graspings are two disturbing emotions whose nature is attachment. These bring about our physical and mental sufferings.
- Life is difficult because of cause for suffering. It suggests a state of incessant, never ending craving, cravings for sensory pleasures, fame, and name.
- Ignorance : Can be defined as ignorance of the meaning and implications of The Four Noble Truths. On a deeper level, it refers to a misunderstanding of the nature of the self and reality.
- Disturbing Emotions : The three root disturbing emotions are called the three poisons, and are the root cause of suffering or dukkha.
- These three poisons are:
- Ignorance 癡: misunderstanding the nature of reality, bewilderment.
- Attachment 貪:attachment to pleasurable experiences.
- Aversion 瞋: a fear of getting what we want, fear of losing what we have, fear of not getting what we want, and fear of change.
The Third Noble Truth (Cessation of suffering and the causes of suffering.)
Cessation of Sufferings 滅: Through understanding the fundamental nature of reality, we realize that it is possible to shed the misconception which drive us. Our approach is to investigate the feasibility of gaining liberation. The ability to perceive reality clearly, demands the practice of
special insight. This can only be cultivated and developed with intense concentration. Such power of concentration requires a firm foundation the ethical discipline of conduct, meditation and view.
Cessation is the goal of one’s spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition. According to the Buddha; each of us have Buddha-Nature, we all have the capability of achieving enlightenment, once we have developed a genuine understanding of the causes of suffering, we can completely eradicate these causes and thus be free ourselves from suffering. Cessation is often equated with Nirvana and can be said to occur whenever the causes of suffering (e.g. craving) have ceased in our mind. One will achieve calm-abiding state of the mind, ability to see the true nature of all things, ultimately attain enlightenment.
The Fourth Noble truth (The path to the cessation of dukkha. )
道 Path to cease Sufferings—(The Eightfold Path)
This path is called the Noble Eightfold Path, and it is considered to be the essence of Buddhist practice. The eightfold path consists of Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. While the first three truths are primarily concerned with understanding the nature of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, stress) and its causes, the fourth truth presents a practical method for overcoming dukkha/ suffering. The path consists of a set of eight interconnected factors or conditions, that when developed together, lead to the cessation of dukkha.
The EightFold path is:
- Right Action 正業, 正行
- Right Livelihood 正命 (正事業)
- Right Effort 正精進
4. Right Speech 正語
5. Right View 正見(正見解)
6. Right Awareness 正思維
7. Right Mindfulness, (Intention) 正念
8. Right Concentration, (Meditation) 正定