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The Four Noble Truths
The four sights that Siddhartha was hidden from all his life are what compelled him to find the Four Noble Truths. When Siddhartha set out to see the outside world he saw the sights of old age, sickness, death, and the wandering monk. Siddhartha’s ultimate goal was to end all the suffering he had experienced as well as what he had seen others experience. His discovery of the solution began with the recognition that life is suffering.
The First Noble Truth is that the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death is unavoidable—this suffering or dis-ease is also known as dukkha. This general suffering is everywhere, and it can be physical or mental. The physical pain can be seen and experienced by anyone, as simple as aches and pains, delicate skin. For example, as we age we find it more difficult to see and to do everyday activities. Even in the miracle of birth, the mother is experiencing incredible pain, though she knows she must endure it.
Furthermore, even the happiest and carefree of people will eventually experience some kind of suffering. The Buddha taught people to recognize that suffering is part of life and that it cannot be avoided. However, this suffering does not only come from the body—it also comes from within. Those who experience loneliness, depression, anxiety, or cannot satisfy their needs and wants are suffering. Despite the negative aspects of suffering, Siddhartha also spoke of happiness through friendships, family life, or health. Though, the downfall to this is that happiness is impermanent—or annica—and will not end all suffering. Buddhists believe that the way to end suffering is to first accept the fact that suffering is a fact of life. The next aspect to recognize is what causes such suffering?
By watching people Siddhartha found that suffering is caused by selfish desires and craving—aka tanha—as well as ignorance. Craving can be explained as the strong desires people have for pleasing their senses. Truth is that none of the things we crave last for very long, and in fact say it is your favorite food, once it is finished it is forgotten as if it never happened—then you go on to crave something else. People crave constantly, but in the end they will never be fully satisfied; that is the reason that people repeat acts such as eating delicious food or having sex multiple times.
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After the Buddha realized suffering itself and its causes, he set out to find a way to overcome these things. He found that suffering can be ended when one no longer holds desires, ill will, and ignorance. Craving and misunderstanding can be solved by developing the mind, thinking carefully and meditating. Once craving, ill will, and ignorance are eliminated from one’s life, they were experience supreme happiness no matter what is going on around them. With this new understanding with all greed left behind, one will be peaceful.
Finally, the Fourth Noble Truth. This truth is the final step to understanding what life is like without suffering—what true inner peace truly feels like. This last step is to follow The Eightfold Path. This Noble Path is only effective if one truly applies it to his or her life and takes full responsibility for each of the steps. However, it will prove worthwhile as the Path also helps its followers in other ways such as developing character and personality. The Path shows the way to live a virtuous life, to cultivate concentration, to develop wisdom, and finally to blossom into an individual complete with compassion and wisdom—which is one of the highest qualities of a human being in Buddhism (BDEA 2008). The Path is aimed at developing behavior, mind, and knowledge for the greater good. To make it through The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path is to know Nirvana—ultimate peace.
BDEA. "Buddhist Studies: The Fourth Noble Truths." Buddhist Studies. BDEA, 2008. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.