Buddhism Teachings: The 4 Noble Truths

Updated on May 21, 2018

There are many teachings in Buddhism that are meant to help people live a better life, among them we have the four noble truths, one of the core teachings of the Gautama Buddha, the main creator of the Buddhist religion.

These four truths have a deep meanings and are used as a philosophical approach to the practice of yoga and life in general. Its goal is to guide people through the problems and difficult situations they live through every day.

These concepts help people to face and overcome a great number of hardships, difficulties, and obstacles that are present in our personal lives, and they manage to do this by applying simple and effective principles.

Below are the main elements of the four noble truths.

1. The Suffering (Dukkha)

Dukkha is related to all things considered to be unpleasant and painful, and which cause physical or mental pain, dissatisfaction, stress, or other negative feelings. This truth also encompasses the strong desire of people to obtain something unobtainable.

Suffering can be cause by material objects, such as money, food, a house, a car, or by intangible objects, such as love, friendship, respect and social status. All of these desires lead to the root of negative feelings and emotions in a person. In the Buddhist religion, these emotions are most often caused by three vices:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Attachment
  3. Aversion

According to many, Dukkha can be caused by happiness and suffering. An example of Dukkha that comes from happiness is a person who obtains a promotion at his job, only to find that the company is in bankruptcy and he will be unemployed soon, causing him to feel frustrated and angry.

An example of Dukkha that comes from suffering is a person who is currently ill and doesn't have enough money to cover their medical bills for treatment. This causes the person to feel hopeless and desperate.

2. The Cause of Suffering (Samudaya)

Samudaya states that suffering does not happen by chance, and the cause of this is within our minds. According to Karma, our negative actions result in more negative actions.

3. The End of Suffering (Nirhodha)

This truth focuses on ending the suffering and negative feelings that are affecting the mind of the people, bringing them spiritual peace and enlightenment. According to Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate goal is to end suffering and to achieve nirvana, a state which transcends suffering so that one may achieve ultimate peace.

4. The Path Out of Suffering (Magga)

The goal of this truth is to move us away from all the negative thoughts and actions that cause suffering, allowing people to replace negative energies with positive energies in order to obtain a stronger and healthier mental state.

Magga can help us to avoid falling into suffering once again by doing the things that are good and meaningful within our life. It also encourages people to cast away all the bad habits and unhealthy thoughts that can affect them in a negative way.

Within this path there is something called the eightfold path. This teaching from talks about the main principles for living a good life, and works as a doctrine and guide for people to walk the path that leads out of suffering.

The Eightfold Path

The eightfold path focuses on three main principles. These are:

  • Moral virtue
  • Meditation
  • Insight and wisdom

In these principles we can find all the different elements of the eightfold path. The table below shows the relation of the three main principles with the eight elements.

Elements of the Eightfold Path
Moral virtue
Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood
Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration
Right View, Right Intention

These elements are often compared to the 10 commandments of the Bible, having several similarities, but they are not the same. The eightfold path is not meant to be followed in a specific order, which makes them very flexible and gives them the ability to interconnect with each other without a problem.

Because of this, students of Buddhism can apply these rules to any type of situation, and can use them to find a solution for different kinds problems.

The four noble truths are a powerful way for people to conquer the pain and hardships they may be experiencing in their life. By studying and learning these four principles, people can understand the reasons why they feel so vexed, and find a way to overcome these feelings. Through the four noble truths, anyone can achieve a sense of balance and harmony within their life.

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    © 2018 Ali Sotillo


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