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October 5, 2021

The Four Noble Truths

A few weeks ago, I re-read Deepak Chopra’s “Buddha.” It’s an easy-to-read, entertaining version of Buddha’s alleged life – with a few pages about the basics of Buddhism at the very end. It’s always refreshing to be reminded of what the basic teachings are:

1. The Three Universal Truths
2. The Four Noble Truths
3. The Noble Eightfold Path

And then drilling down into each of these, as pulled from this document:

The Three Universal Truths

1. Nothing is lost in the universe
2. Everything changes
3. The law of cause and effect

The Four Noble Truths explore human suffering, described as:

1. Dukkha: Suffering exists: Life is suffering. Suffering is real and almost universal. Suffering has many causes: loss, sickness, pain, failure, and the impermanence of pleasure.

2. Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering. Suffering is due to attachment. It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.

3. Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. Attachment can be overcome. Suffering ceases with the final liberation of Nirvana (Nibbana). The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving.

4. Magga: In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path consists of:

– Panna: Discernment, wisdom:

1. Samma ditthi: Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Right View is the true understanding of the four noble truths.

2. Samma sankappa: Right thinking; following the right path in life. Right Aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.

– Sila: Virtue, morality:

3. Samma vaca: Right speech: No lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language. Right Speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.

4. Samma kammanta Right conduct or Right Action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex. These are called the Five Precepts.

5. Samma ajiva: Right livelihood: Support yourself without harming others. Right Livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals.

– Samadhi: Concentration, meditation:

6. Samma vayama: Right Effort: Promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts. Right Effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regards to the content of one’s mind: Bad qualities should be abandoned and prevented from arising again. Good qualities should be enacted and nurtured.

7. Samma sati: Right Mindfulness: Become aware of your body, mind and feelings. Right Mindfulness is the focusing of one’s attention on one’s body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance.

8. Samma samadhi: Right Concentration: Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Right Concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.