The Four Noble Truths

The Buddhataught the Four Noble Truths which are central to his teachings. These four Truths constitute the fundamental philosophy of Buddhism. Without understanding them fully, we cannot clearly understand the teachings of the Buddha.

The Four Noble Truths are important because beyond the pale of religion they are very relevant to human psychology and our existence. They enable us to understand the scope and nature of our suffering and find suitable remedies for it.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

1. Suffering

All existence is unsatisfactory and filled with suffering

2. The Cause of Suffering

The root of suffering can be defined as an attachment to or craving for wrong things. These desires in the material world can never give us everlasting happiness because by nature they are temporary or transitory.

3. The End of Suffering.

By practising right conduct, meditation and prayer it is possible for an individual to attain Liberation or Nirvana. 

4. The Path to the Cessation of Suffering.
The Noble Eightfold path is the way to finding the solution to suffering and bring it to an end

Intoduction to The 4 Noble Truths

Many people consider Buddhism as a pessimistic religion, because it speaks of life as a perilous and painful journey and an exercise in utter futility. In it they do not find any positive approach towards life in general. All life seems to be condemned by it as a great illusion, that provides no comfort but pain, no freedom but chains, no permanency but change, and no solace but anguish.

Buddhism may not appeal to the pleasure oriented or the epicurean. But it is not a negative religion. Rather it examines the negative aspects of life very systematically and tries to suggest positive solutions and permanent cures. It does not suggest a life of extreme austerity, but of moderation only, of control and discipline rather than self-denial and torture of ones body and mind.

It does not put the responsibility of finding your own salvation outside your personality, but at the center of it. It does not weaken your resolve to pursue a path of your choice, but only explains the consequences of your choices and the dangers involved in clinging to things that do not last.

Buddhism brings suffering into focus, because it considers it to be the central malady of life that needs to be resolved rather than ignored. It is rightly a religion of peace and compassion, a practical religion that does not weave its arguments around speculative philosophies of creation or existence of God, but upon the possibility of human effort that leads to salvation.

It is also not just a religion of the individual, of the withdrawn, of the socially deviant, or of the introverted. It is a religion of the balanced minds, that understand the importance of inner and outer harmony in the achievement of salvation. It recognizes the importance of social harmony and the need for a collective discipline and collective action for ensuring and sustaining the universal welfare of all.

Buddhism does not encourage man to become a slave of his own illusions. It does not leave him without a hope, or without a remedy. In the very beginning of his life as an initiate, it makes him clearly understand the illusory nature of life, and of the dangers of continuing it, so that he can adequately safeguard himself from them.

The Four Noble Truths are the four fundamental truths of our existence. They are universal truths which no one can deny. They stretch beyond all life and offer no clues as to their origin or creator. The Buddha did not find any cause that created them. We therefore do not like to speculate on it. Instead, in the following paragraphs we will discuss the Four Noble Truths and try to understand their significance in our lives.