Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, was born in the sixth century B. C. He lived an extravagant life in a kingdom as a young prince. Siddhartha was ordered by his father to stay in his house and never leave. He eventually disobeyed and ventured out in the world and saw many things he had never seen before nor could understand. According to World Religions Online the article entitled “Life of the Buddha” states, “As the prince rode through the city he saw three things that he had never seen before.
One was an old man, one was a man suffering from illness, and the third was a corpse surrounded by mourners. ” These sights made him realize that suffering was inevitable and he soon became determined to find a way to cease all suffering. He followed many practices and methods, but he never became fully satisfied and free from suffering. He soon realized that instead of following a path of extremities, he encouraged others to follow a path of balance. He called this The Four Noble Truths.
The Four Noble Truths teaches about suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path to take to end all suffering. The Four Noble Truths is often translated as “life is suffering. ” This is seen as pessimistic and negative for many, but Buddha did not speak English so he did not use the word suffering, and instead used the word dukkha. According to World Religions Online an article called “Four Noble Truths” states dukkha, “means ‘suffering,’ but suffering in a very profound sense. “Dukkha” is a Pali word for many things.
It could mean suffering, but it can also mean stress, dissatisfaction, and discomfort, which is all temporary according to Buddha. The first Noble Truth, the truth of suffering, identifies the existence of suffering. Life without suffering is impossible. To live, you must deal with some sort of suffering. During Buddha’s journey outside of his palace, he noticed the first three things that people suffer from: sickness, old age and death. But according to Buddha, suffering is rooted much deeper than outward causes.
In Buddha’s teachings, he discusses how every single human being has cravings and desires, yet they can never fully be satisfied. Humans can never be fully satisfied if one is always craving something. The satisfaction of tending to our cravings is only temporary. If the pleasure somehow lasts, it becomes repetitive and dull. “The Buddha taught people to recognize that suffering is part of life and that it cannot be avoided” stated by an article called “The First Noble Truth. ” This is the truth of suffering.
The truth of the origin of suffering, the second Noble Truth, recognizes the cause of all suffering. Buddha categorized it into what is known as, the Three Roots of Evil. Greed and desire create many obstacles for humans to reach true happiness. Wealth, sex, fame, eating and sleeping are the five main rapacious desires. Although there are many negative desires, Buddhists recognize that there are positive wants and cravings, such as yearning for enlightenment and wishing happiness upon others. Anger and hatred also lead to suffering.
In one of Buddha’s teachings he said, “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. ” The last root of evil, delusion and ignorance, is the lack of knowledge and firmly believing in something despite being at variance with the reality and truth. The truth of the end of all suffering is the third Noble Truth. Buddha taught that suffering ends once a human being accesses Nirvana, or reaches enlightenment. Buddha frequently discussed in his teachings that the cause of all suffering is dependent on a person’s state of mind.
Because of this conclusion, suffering ends once a person rids themselves of delusions, anger, and desires, thus entering the proper state of mind and possessing wisdom to reach Nirvana. Nirvana is commonly referred to as “heaven”, because of it being the highest state a person can reach and the perfect place of peace and happiness. Arriving at Nirvana extinguishes all suffering and problems. The final and fourth Noble Truth is the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering. The Eightfold Path, or the Middle Way, is Buddha’s prescription on how to end suffering.
It is a set of eight principles that can be categorized into three groups: Wisdom (right understand and intention), Ethical Conduct (right speech, action and livelihood), and Meditation (right effort, mindfulness and concentration). According to The Four Noble Truths the article entitled “The Four Noble Truths” adds, “If we can control our body and mind in a way that we help others instead of doing them harm, and generating wisdom in our own mind, we can end our suffering and problems. ” The first principle, right understanding, is simply accepting Buddhist teachings.
Buddha never wanted his followers to forcefully believe his teachings, but to practice them at their own will and determine if they were truthful or not. The second element, right intention, basically means to free the mind of all evil and avoid the Three Roots of Evil. Right speech and right conduct are in accordance with one another as they both focus on attaining positive behavior and kindness. The fifth principle, right livelihood, intends to maintain a respectful way of living, such as never killing or harming an animal.
Right effort consists of avoiding evil and obtaining a joyful perseverance. Right mindfulness is the seventh element toward ceasing suffering. It concentrates on having a clear mind state and being aware of one’s mental and physical well-being. The last principle, right concentration, involves the use of meditation to achieve the high level enlightenment. According to World Religions Online the article entitled “Life of the Buddha” states, “A person who practices right concentration will come to the enlightenment that Siddhartha attained. The elements in the Eightfold Path are not meant to be followed in order, but to support and enforce one another.
The Four Noble Truths encompass the core of Buddha’s teachings. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering and the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering. In the last and fourth truth, Buddha discusses that Nirvana is achieved once the steps in the Eightfold Path are taken successfully. Once a person is fully enlightened, all of their suffering and problems diminish and a state of pure happiness and peace is accomplished.