Developments in Buddhist Thought - the Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths 

The Four Noble Truths comprises the essence of the Buddha's teachings, though they leave much unexplained. These truths are the ''nucleus'' of the Buddha's teachings and all later teachings have their foundation here. 

They are the truth of suffering (dukkha), the truth of the cause of suffering (tanha), the truth of the end of suffering (nirvana), and the truth of the path that leads us away from suffering (magga - the Eightfold Path). More simply put, suffering exists, it has a cause, it has an end and it has a cause to bring about its end. 

The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting (lasts for a short time). 

Pursuit of pleasure can only continute what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst/craving. In the end, only ageing, sickness and death are certain and unavoidable. 

The Doctor Analogy 

''I teach but one thing, suffering, its causes and its ends'' - Buddha 

One analogy used to describe the Four Noble Truths is of a 'doctor' (the Buddha), treating a patient (something who is suffering): 

  • 1) Dukkha --> the illness/diagnosis: acknowledging that there is mental affliction. 
  • 2) Tanha --> the cause of the illness: desire or craving. 
  • 3) Nirvana --> prognosis/forecast: you can be well, the cessation of suffering. 
  • 4) Magga --> the cure/medicine: a path of practice away from suffering. 

The Deer Park Sermon 

  • In his first sermon, the Buddha quoted, ''I teach but one thing, suffering, its causes and its ends'', which is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. 
  • In this sermon, the Buddha warns 5 monks over extreme devotion to the indulgence of self pleasure, as well as self mortification. 
  • ''There are two extremes which should not be practised. There is devotion to the indulgences of self-pleasures, low, common and out of the way of ordinary people. And there is devotion to self-mortifcation which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable". 
  • In other words, you shouldn't purse a foolish path that will provoke further and further suffering. You must choose the right path away from suffering. 

The Truth of Dukkha 

'' Birth is dukkha; ageing is dukkha and death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha; association with the unloved is dukkha; not attaining ones…

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Developments in Buddhist Thought - the Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths 

The Four Noble Truths comprises the essence of the Buddha's teachings, though they leave much unexplained. These truths are the ''nucleus'' of the Buddha's teachings and all later teachings have their foundation here. 

They are the truth of suffering (dukkha), the truth of the cause of suffering (tanha), the truth of the end of suffering (nirvana), and the truth of the path that leads us away from suffering (magga - the Eightfold Path). More simply put, suffering exists, it has a cause, it has an end and it has a cause to bring about its end. 

The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting (lasts for a short time). 

Pursuit of pleasure can only continute what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst/craving. In the end, only ageing, sickness and death are certain and unavoidable. 

The Doctor Analogy 

''I teach but one thing, suffering, its causes and its ends'' - Buddha 

One analogy used to describe the Four Noble Truths is of a 'doctor' (the Buddha), treating a patient (something who is suffering): 

  • 1) Dukkha --> the illness/diagnosis: acknowledging that there is mental affliction. 
  • 2) Tanha --> the cause of the illness: desire or craving. 
  • 3) Nirvana --> prognosis/forecast: you can be well, the cessation of suffering. 
  • 4) Magga --> the cure/medicine: a path of practice away from suffering. 

The Deer Park Sermon 

  • In his first sermon, the Buddha quoted, ''I teach but one thing, suffering, its causes and its ends'', which is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. 
  • In this sermon, the Buddha warns 5 monks over extreme devotion to the indulgence of self pleasure, as well as self mortification. 
  • ''There are two extremes which should not be practised. There is devotion to the indulgences of self-pleasures, low, common and out of the way of ordinary people. And there is devotion to self-mortifcation which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable". 
  • In other words, you shouldn't purse a foolish path that will provoke further and further suffering. You must choose the right path away from suffering. 

The Truth of Dukkha 

'' Birth is dukkha; ageing is dukkha and death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha; association with the unloved is dukkha; not attaining ones…

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