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The Insight Of Four Noble Truths In Buddhism

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In the contemporary time period, roughly the 7 per cent of the World population stick to the Buddhism doctrines and consider themselves as the followers of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama – the founder of this philosophy. In fact, Buddhism is considered to be one of the earliest religions which has been first introduced between the 4th and 6th centuries of B.C. period. As all the other philosophies, Buddhism is composed of several principles, whereas, the 4 Noble Truths constitute the backbone of this tenet. The fact that, Buddhism has emerged in such an early period and survived till now intimates the significance of the 4 Noble Truths. Hence, it might be worthwhile to sift through and analyze these 4 teachings of Buddhism.

Having realized the contrast between the real life and the subterfuge demonstrated to him by his royal family, Siddhartha started to look for the intrinsic meaning of the life. In seek of truth, Siddhartha Gautama started to meditate, which took his 49 days before he has proclaimed himself as the ‘enlightened one’ or Buddha. Buddha suggested that he reached to the point where he saw the very true meaning of life. To offer a guidance for his followers, Buddha came up with the 4 essential truths claiming if one would stick to them completely, he or she will eventually reach to the point of enlightenment. The first noble truth is called Dukkha and in the simplest terms it states that life is all about suffering. According to Dukkha suffering and pain await us in all periods of our lives and our actions just create another base for us to suffer and get upset. In my opinion, with such a striking introduction to his doctrine, Buddha already accomplishes to hook the attention of the readers.

Although life is not composed of only bad situations such as diseases and death, I believe Buddha wanted to convey that even if we will be delighted at some points of our lives, the tough moments are always in the corner and hard days are inevitable. But why is that? There should be a logical explanation behind such pretension. Here comes the second noble truth, Samudaya, explaining the reason why humans are suffering. According to the Buddha, people have difficult days, feel fretted because of their desires as well as because not fully perceiving the realities of the life. What can be inferred from the previous statement is the second noble truth alleges the individuals’ desires to be the very reason behind their chagrin and sorrow. Once pondered, the projected noble truth makes sense especially if we would bring real life analogies from our daily lives. Why children cry when they cannot find their toys? Why end of vacation involving good experiences hurts? Why, for a student studying abroad, at the end of every summer holiday it is sorrowful to say goodbye to the motherland and to his or her family? Why parents get sad when their daughter moves out when married, did not they know this will happen sooner or later? Why breaking up with loved ones hurts? Why losing parents is one of the utmost griefs? Surely, the list of such questions can be extended further. However, let us have a closer look to all these questions and try to find a point that comprises every one of them. A child cries when he is unable to find his beloved toy maybe because while playing with it all the time he has never thought of the absence of this toy.

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Thus, now lacking the toy creates shock, confusion and sadness in the child which leads to crying. One may argue that such situation is normal since children may not perceive the situation correctly. However, as implied in the rest of the questions listed above, people tend to have likely trend as they get older. A student studying in a different country knows well that at the end of vacation she will need to leave her parents, but still gets upset at the end perhaps because she preferred to ignore the reality throughout the holiday. Similar situation happens even in older group of people. As suggested in one of the questions above, although parents knew that their daughter will most likely leave the house once married, perhaps they ignored thinking about this reality and got attached to their daughter. Likewise, people lament when they are parents die. Although they surely know that death is inevitable, they overlook this fact and get attached to their parents and get upset when they lose them. Surely by no means, I do not claim that people are doing wrong by loving and getting attached to their parents and children. Rather, the aim is to justify the sensibleness of the second noble truth by giving as much real examples as possible. Indeed, the very cause of the sadness is getting attached to impermanent things as if they will stay forever. In Buddhist views the concept of not attaching is not about separation though, it is about unification and John Loori says: “If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?'(O’Brien & Barbara, 2019).

While 1st and 2nd noble truths define a problem, the 3rd and 4th noble truths focus on the solution of the mentioned problem. After reading the first two noble truths one would demand the way out of this seemingly inescapable matter. Hence, understandably, the 3rd noble truth states that despite the pessimistic introduction to the truths, there is indeed an escape way, a way to get rid of sufferings, a way to ultimate happiness. Thai Buddhist Monk Ajahn Chah states as following: “If you let go a little, you’ll have a little happiness. If you let go a lot, you’ll have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely…you’ll be completely happy” (Hanson, 2016). So, the third noble truth can be viewed as a promise for the solution. Henceforth, not surprisingly, the fourth noble truth comes just like a prescription for the aforementioned issue. The fourth noble truth basically explains what kind of approach people should take toward their lives to reach to the state of complete happiness.

For that, the Eightfold Path is included in the fourth truth, which consists of 8 criterions that people should obey to. The first one of them is having the Right view. Having right view demands true understanding and perspective of life. What one might get from this is, Buddha tries to draw attention to the previously mentioned noble truths. Furthermore, there are some other criterions such as Right Intent, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Effort and Right Livelihood. These mentioned 5 criterions of the Eightfold Path are not trivial that one may group them all together and summarize them in one sentence as if they are speaking of the same point, but in fact each of them conveys an extensive and unique meaning. However, although these life approach rules have appeared approximately 2500 years ago, they still concur significantly well with the moral rules of today. These criterions ask for seemingly ‘mainstream moral actions’ such as honesty in the speech, compassion toward others, strive for self-development, ethical and nongreedy lifestyle, showing love towards people. However, I believe, as dull as these criteria may sound, integrating all these actions in the daily life and practicing them perfectly, may form an ultimately happy mind. Finally, the other two criteria of the eightfold path are Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. They ask for the ability of perfectly focusing in a single objective as well as being able to live in the very moment without thinking anything else. In my opinion, these two notions play the important role in the significance of meditation among the Buddhist communities.

To recap, the fourth noble truths being the core values of it, Buddhism is one of the most ancient religions (or the life philosophies), and it remains standing for more than 2 millennia, today having around 500 million of people sticking to its concepts. What these four noble truths do in total are; they diagnose an unsettling flaw, an insoluble problem in the lives of people. Mainly, the mentioned problem is about people’s continuous and implacable sufferings. Then these noble truths identify the reasons for the mentioned issue, and lastly offer a way out of sufferings by proposing a guide for the purification of all the pains and problems. Having been analyzed, the noble truths are surely far from a grotesque pontification, and in fact are worthy to be perceived as a part of a valuable philosophy.

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The Insight Of Four Noble Truths In Buddhism. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
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