FOUR NOBLE TRUTH BUDDHISM BA [ H ] PHILOSOPHY
FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
The BUDDHA PHILOSOPHY arouse out of the teachings of Gautama Buddha the well founder BUDDDHISM. Gautama was awakened to the consciousness of suffering by the insight of disease, death, old age and other miseries to which the man is subject. He spent years in penance, study and meditation to discover the origin of human suffering and the means to overcome them. At last he received enlightment the result of which what came to be known as the four noble truth “ CATVARI ARYA SATYANI “.
The Buddha stated in his first semon that when he gained absolute and intuitive knowledge of the four truths he achieved complete enlightment and freedom from future rebirth.
The four noble truths are the essence of the Buddha teachings . It was these four principles that the Buddha came to understood during meditation under the Bodhi tree. The truth are as follows :
- The truth that there is suffering [ DUKKHA ]
- The truth that there is a cause of suffering [ SAMUDAYA ]
- The truth of the cessation of suffering [ NIRVANA]
- The truth that there is a path leading to the cessation of suffering [ MARGA ]
Often the Buddha was compared as physician because in the first noble truth Buddha diagnosed the problem [ suffering] and identified its cause. The third noble truth is realization that there is a cure. The fourth noble truth that Buddha gave the eightfold paths path which is the prescription to remove the suffering.
THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH [ DUKKHA]
The sights of suffering which upset the mind of the young Buddha were of disease, old age , death . Birth , old age, disease, death, sorrow , grief, wish, despair in short all that is born of attachment is misery. The existence of suffering is admitted by all in some form or another . Suffering or dukkha is the bond that we all shares . Everybody everywhere suffers . Human beings suffered in the past in ancient INDIA , they suffer in the modern Britain and in the future also each and every person will suffer. It includes all level from the most privileged human beings to the most desperate or under privileged all ranges in between . It is a bond that we have with one another, something we all understand. Suffering comes in many forms. The three obvious kinds of suffering corresponds to the first thee sight of the suffering that Buddha saw on his first journey outside his palace were disease, death and sickness.
But according to the Buddha, suffering goes much more deeper, life is not ideal it frequently fails to live up to our expectations. Human beings are subject to desires and cravings , even when we are able to fulfill our desires then also the satisfaction is temporary. Pleasure does not last , it it does then the pleasure is monotoneous. Even when we are not suffering from the outward causes like illness and beveravment then also we are unfulfilled and unsatisfied. This is the truth of suffering . Some people who encounters the teachings of Buddha finds it pessimistic . But for Buddha it is neither pessimistic nor optimistic bue realistic.
THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING [ SAMUDAYA]
Regarding to the second noble truth Buddha deduced a conclusion from his analysis of causation. He points out that the existence of everything in the world, material and mental is caused by some other thing. According to it, nothing is unconditional and existence of everything depends on some conditions. As the existence of one thing depends on some conditions , then there must be some cause which being there our misery comes into existence. Nothing is therefore permanent in this world. Suffering depends on birth in this world. Again the birth is caused is due to the desires [ tanha ] for the wordly objects. If we had the correct and the perfect knowledge about the transitory pain and the nature of the pain then there would be no desire for them , birth would then cease and along with it also misery. Ignorance is therefore the root cause of impressions or tendencies that cause rebirth.
Thus, there is a twelve link chain o causation. The order and the number of links are not always the same but it come to be known as the full and standard account of the matter.
[a] suffering in life is due to the [b] birth which is due to [c] the will to born which is due to [d] the mental clinging of the objects , and again clinging again is due to the [e] thirst or the desire for the worldly objects which again is due to the [f ] the sense experience which is due to the [g] the sense- object – contact which again is due to the [h] the six organs of the consciousness , which are dependent on [i] the embryonic organisms [ composed of mind and body ] which are not developed without [j] some intial consciousness which again hails from [k] the impressions of the experience of past life which lastly are due to [l] ignorance of truth.
The twelve links are interpreted to cover the past, the present and he future life so that present life can be conviniently explained with reference to the present and the future life. The twelve links are arranged with reference to the three periods in the way proceeding from cause to effect .
THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE CESATION OF SUFFERING [ NIRVANA ]
The third noble truth that there is cessation of suffering follows from the second truth that misery depends on some conditions. If these conditions are removed, misery would cease.
First of all, liberation from misery is a state attainable herein this very life, if certain conditions are fulfilled. When there is a perfect control o passions and constant contemplation of truth lead a person through the four stages of concentration to perfect wisdom and after that person is no longer under the sway of worldly attachment . He is therefore liberated , he became an arhat – a venerable person. This state is known as NIRVANA the extinction of passions and also of misery.
It should be understood that for the attainment of perfect clear and steady knowledge of the fourfold truth one has to withdraw all his attention from outside and even from the ideas with in and concentrate it wholly on repeated reasoning and contemplation of the truths and all in their aspects. But also when one has obtain the permanent wisdom ,through concentrated thought the liberated should neither always remain rapt in meditation nor wholly withdraw from the active life.
According to the Buddha, there are two kinds of action one that is doe under the influence of attachment, hatred, infatuation another that is done without these. It is only the first that strengthens our desire to cling to the world and generates the seed of causing rebirth. The second kind of action done with perfect insight into the real nature of the universe and without attachment, does not create a karma producing rebirth. Buddha also pointed out the difference between these two is that they are like the sowing of ordinary productive seeds and the sowing of seeds which have been fried and made barren.
After the Buddha attained the nirvana he was first reluctant to do work for the countless beings who were writhing in pain. He thought that the raft which he has constructed with toil must be left for other to across over the flood of misery, should be left for others to attain the very goal of NIRVANA. The etymological meaning of NIRVANA is BLOWN OUT . Depending on such etymological meaning and the negative description of NIRVANA as the absence of all the physical and the mental states known to us , the buddhists and non Buddhists have explained NIRVANA as complete cessation of existence. It is to noted that Buddha got criticism when he as was asked about that if after attaining the enlighment a person got freedom from rebirth so can the person can’t come in any other form, but Buddha always remained silent on this point and always tried to avoid.
THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH [ MARGA] A PATH THAT LEADS TO THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING
The fourth noble truth that lays down that there is a path [ marga ] which Buddha followed and others can similarly follow to reach he state free from misery. The path recommended by the Buddha consists of eight steps or rules and it is primarily called eightfold noble paths.
This path is open to all monks as well as a lay man seeking to get free from misery. The noble truth consists in the acquisition of the following eight good things.
- RIGHT VIEW : As the ignorance aand its consequences namely wrong views regarding the world and the self is the root cause of the suffering , the natural principle to moral reformation should be the acquisition of right view and the knowledge about the truth. Right view is defined the correct knowledge about the four noble truth. It is the knowledge anout the truths alone and not any theoretical speculation regarding nature and self. Which according to Buddha leads to goal – NIRVANA.
- RIGHT RESOLVE; A mere knowledge about the truths are usless unless one resolves to reform their life in the light. The moral aspirant is asked to renounce all the attachments to the world and give up ill-feeling towards others and desist one self to not to harm others. These three constitute the RIGHT DETERMINATION.
- RIGHT SPEECH; Right determination should not remain a pious wish but it should be put forth into action. Right determination should be able to control and guide the speech as and when we begin to speak. Right speech consist of absentism unkind words, slanders, lying and unfrivilous talks.
- RIGHT CONDUCT: Right determination should end with right action and good conduct and not only with right speech. The right conduct includes the five vows of desisting lying, stealing , intoxication , sensuality and killing.
- RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: Renouncing all the bad actions and bad speech one shoukd earn his livelihood by honest means. The necessity of this rule is that at the sake of maintain livelihood not by forbidden means and work consistently on right determination.
- RIGHT EFFORT: While one tried to live in reformed life, with the resolution speech , conduct and livelihood and right views he constantly knocked off right path by evil thoughts which constantly arises even in the presence of new ones. One person cannot steadily progress unless he maintains a constant effort to prevent old and evil thoughts from arising. Moreover, as the mind cannot be kept empty , one consistently endeavour to fill it with ideas and retain such ideas in mind. This fourfold constant endeavour negative and positive is called RIGHT EFFORT.
- RIGHT MINDFULNESS: The necessity of constant vigilance is that the aspirant should constantly bear in mind the things as he has learnt . He should remember and contemplate body as body mind as mind sensation as sensation and mental state as mental state. One should not think about them as “ THIS IS MINE “ or anything about these. If we are not mindful we behave as though the body mind, sensation, mental as permanent and valuable. In result there arises the attachment and bondage to thses and grief over their loss. And we become subject to bondage and misery. But contemplation on the frail, perishable loathness nature of these helps s to remain free from attachment and grief. Buddha gave very detailed instructions as such how the contemplation practice is go through. FOR EG : one should remember and contemplate about the body that it is made up of four elements [ earth , air , water , fire ] and that it is filled with all sorts of loathsome matters like flesh, bone, skin, blood, pus, bile, phlegum etc. Going to a cementry process observe how the dead body rots , decays is eaten by dogs and how gradually is mixed up with the elements. By such intense contemplation one is athlete understand what really the body is and he would gives up all his false emotions and affection for the body.
- RIGHT CONCENTRATION: One who has successfully guided his life in the light of the last seven rules and thereby freed himself from all passions and evil thoughts is fit to enter step by step the four deeper and deeper stages of concentration that gradually take him to goal of his long and ardous journey cessation of suffering.
First he concentrates his pure and ruffled mind on reasoning and investigation regarding the truths and enjoys in this state , joy and ease born of detachment and pure thought.
SECOND, when this concentration successful , belief in the fourfold truth arises dispelling all doubts and making reasoning and investigation unnecessary. The second stage of concentration in which there are joy , peace and internal tranquility born of intense, unruffled contemplation. There in this stage a concentration of this joy and peace too.
In the next stage, attempt is made by him to intiate as attitude of indifference , to be able to detach himself even from the joy of concentration.
Lastly, he tries to put away even his consciousness of ease and equaminity and all the sense of joy and elation he previously had. Thus he attains goal of cessation of suffering and he attains to arhatship or nirvana . There are then perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness.