The Noble Truths

Buddhism offers a simple and straightforward way of looking at the world and what it means to live a moral and humble life.  It is not based on any sort of almighty God, as Buddha never claimed to be a God or a prophet of any kind.  Rather, Buddhist teachings help us to understand our own pain, our own actions, and the reasons that suffering, greediness or violence persist in the world.  Taking time to reflect on Buddhist ideas and on how we are connected to all things can help us to stay grounded.  It can help us avoid getting caught up in the material world and in false needs that are advertised to us day by day.


The 3 Basic Laws of Buddhism are:

  1. Everything changes.  Nothing is ever permanent, but in a constant state of becoming.
  2. As nothing is permanent, nothing can be considered as a universal norm of `goodness`or `beauty`.
  3. There is no permanent `self`, soul, ego or essence.  The delusion of self is one of the most powerful human instincts, and is one of main the causes of egoism, selfishness, stubborn pride, and harmful action.

The 4 Noble Truths are:

  1. To live is to suffer.  Life holds suffering and pain from birth until death, be it physical, emotional, or mental suffering.  It is important to recognize this as a fact and accept it, rather than believe there is a divine path through life that will bring only good.  In fact, attempts to avoid personal suffering can often bring suffering to others.  This is not a pessimistic truth, as Buddhism teaches how suffering can be avoided and how happiness can be found in selflessness and humility.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving and wanting.  People suffer if they want people to like them, want attention, want others to conform to their expectations, if they don`t get something they want, etc.  Craving and wanting also make people act out in different situations, or act out in violence to defend what they so want.  Instead of living a life of craving and wanting, try to modify what you want.  Take a close look at whether you truly need what you want, or whether you could be just as content without it.  Buddhism teaches us to be content to just be.

  3. Freedom from suffering comes from ridding ourselves of unnecessary wanting.  If we live in the moment, day by day, and don`t stress over the past or the imagined future (as everything changes and is impermanent anyway), then we can be free of unnecessary desire and therefore free from the suffering that wanting brings.
  4. The way out of suffering and to enlightenment is the Middle Path, or the Noble 8-Fold PathThis path to enlightenment basically involves living a moral life, being mindful of our thoughts and our actions, ridding ourselves of ego and selfishness, ridding ourselves of fear, and developing wisdom and compassion for all others.  It is called the Middle Path because it lies in between the extremes of self-indulgence or self-mortification; it is always the calm, composed `middle` way.  To be avoided are elaborate rituals and prayer to a higher power, because this is done out of wanting and craving.

These laws and truths are useful because they don`t require a great input of time attending organized religious rituals, nor do they require that you believe in any kind of supra-human power.  All you need is to understand your connection to all things in this world, to accept that all things change and you can not control it all, and to not focus or believe in an all-important self.  Rather, be content with what you have without wanting more and more, and practice loving kindness and compassion for all people, no matter what.  Live a life of giving instead of wanting, and live in the moment with no expectation, being grateful for the good that is already and always around you.



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One Comment on “The Noble Truths”

  1. daveclark955 January 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Wanting what’s good for everyone instead of only what’s good for ourselves is so important in today’s world.

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