The Four Noble Truths
"I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That's all I teach", Is the what Buddha quoted 2500 years ago.
The Four Noble Truths contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings. It was these four principles that the Buddha came to understand during his meditation under the bodhi tree.
1. The truth of suffering (Dukkha)
2. The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya)
3. The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)
The Buddha is often compared to a physician. In the first two Noble Truths he diagnosed the problem (suffering) and identified its cause. The third Noble Truth is ...view middle of the document...
In the second of his Noble Truths, though, the Buddha claimed to have found the cause of all suffering - and it is much more deeply rooted than our immediate worries.
The Buddha taught that the root of all suffering is desire, tanhā. This comes in three forms, which he described as the Three Roots of Evil, or the Three Fires, or the Three Poisons.
The three roots of evil
These are the three ultimate causes of suffering:
* Greed and desire, represented in art by a rooster
* Ignorance or delusion, represented by a pig
* Hatred and destructive urges, represented by a snake
Language note: Tanhā is a term in Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, that specifically means craving or misplaced desire. Buddhists recognise that there can be positive desires, such as desire for enlightenment and good wishes for others. A neutral term for such desires is chanda.
The Fire Sermon
The Buddha taught more about suffering in the Fire Sermon, delivered to a thousand bhikkus (Buddhist monks).
The Third Noble Truth
Cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
The Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire, which causes suffering, is to liberate oneself from attachment.
This is the third Noble Truth - the possibility of liberation.
The Buddha was a living example that this is possible in a human lifetime.
"Estrangement" here means disenchantment: a Buddhist aims to know sense conditions clearly as they are without becoming enchanted or misled by them.
Nirvana means extinguishing. Attaining nirvana - reaching enlightenment - means extinguishing the three fires of greed, delusion and hatred.
Someone who reaches nirvana does not immediately disappear to a heavenly realm. Nirvana is better understood as a state of mind that humans can reach. It is a state of profound spiritual joy, without negative emotions and fears.
Someone who has attained enlightenment is filled with compassion for all living things.
After death an enlightened person is liberated from the cycle of rebirth, but Buddhism gives no definite answers as to what happens next.
The Buddha discouraged his followers from asking too many questions about nirvana. He wanted them to concentrate on the task at...