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Four Noble Truths

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Writer Jogye Date14 Oct 2015 Read6,142 Comment0

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Buddhism explains the world and life as they really are and tries to let people who practice it live well in this world. The Four Noble Truths are said to be practical principles of Buddhism. What are the four? They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of way to the cessation of suffering, i.e. Nirvana.

The truth of suffering is explained as follows. To be born is suffering, to age is suffering, to be ill is suffering and to die is suffering. To be secluded from a loved one is suffering, to meet a disliked one is suffering, and not to be able to get what one wants is suffering, and people living too energetically is suffering. In a word it is said that all beings are suffering and all of our ordinary life is suffering.

There must be a cause of suffering. Ignorance and craving are usually regarded as the causes. Ignorance is compared to walking at night without a lantern or going to a destination without a map. Craving is like a thirst for sensual pleasures. So ignorance and craving make people attached to objects, which always change conditions and are not real. Thus suffering happens.

But the suffering can be resolved, and there must be a way. We humans can accomplish the cessation of suffering called Nirvana; a peaceful, calm, and uninterrupted state of mind, by completely eradicating all ignorance and craving. The truth of the way to the cessation of sffering is a practical way of accomplishing Nirvana. That is the Eight-fold Path. The eight are right view, right thought, right word, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

I would like to point out that we need to look into the Four Noble Truths more deeply. What on earth is suffering? Pain is suffering, disease is suffering, dssatisfaction is suffering, poverty is suffering, and ignorance is suffering. But also, joy is suffering, health is suffering, satisfaction is suffering, wealth is suffering, and knowledge is suffering. The though of 'I' is suffering and that of 'you' is suffering, 'this' is suffering and 'that' is suffering. Ultimately all our life based on the thinking of extreme dichotomy is suffering. But our thoughts are already arranged to function like that. Is it karma or original sin?

The Buddha said we are all sentient beings and are already Buddhas, but we just don't know it! Why? The reason is we are too accustomed to the way of thinking that we have learned since we were born. We believe 'I am' 'I am living' and 'I am a human being' etc.

We usually believe that these accustomed thoughts are right, without fail. But these thoughts are right on only one side. Why? such thoughts are only the 'human' viewpoint. So they are partial, particular and not totally right and universal. On the other side, 'I am not' 'I am not living' and 'I am not a human being' i.e. we are 'Sunya'. When we understand this fact well we can never be remote from the truth of the world and life. And when we have a compassionate mind we can share this fact with each other. and the world and life will have a completely different meaning!


- by Kim BongRae

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