The Noble Truths of Buddhism
Interpretation by Barbara Engler
The First Noble Truth
Universal dissatisfactions characterize human existence. This is the problem of suffering. Our perceptions of pain are due to not getting what we want, being exposed to what we don’t want and not being able to keep forever what we love and not being able to eliminate what we hate.
The Second Noble Truth
Begins the application of dependant origination to the problem and on identifying the causal conditions on which suffering depends. Suffering and dissatisfactions, the disease, if you will of human existence, cannot be by themselves. They arise from our craving, our thirsting, and desiring for things to be other than they are.
Comes in Two Flavors:
Attachment - This includes greed and possessive love.
Aversions-Which includes anger, resentment and hate.
The Third Noble Truth
Derives a solution through the application of the same principle. Because human suffering arises out of craving, to bring our disease to and end, we must cease the self defeating liking and disliking that causes it. Although we cannot get rid of physical pain, emotional pain and aging, we can eliminate the anxiety we cause ourselves with our cognitive processing. To eliminate suffering we must get rid of craving, in doing so we can achieve freedom from unnecessary psychological pain.
The Fourth Noble Truth also known as the Eightfold Path
- Right Understanding - Understanding the interconnectedness and the impermanence of everything.
- Right Thinking – Cultivating thoughts of selfless detachment, compassion, and non-harming and then extending these to all sentient beings.
- Right Speech – Abstaining from lying, slander, gossip, and injurious speech and speaking that which is positive and constructive, otherwise maintaining a “noble silence”.
- Right Action – Acting in ways that will benefit and not cause suffering to others or oneself.
- Right Livelihood – Avoiding ways of making a living that are based in the exploitation and the suffering of animals or people.
- Right Effort – Cutting off unwholesome thoughts before they can be transformed into actions and nurturing wholesome ones instead.
- Right Mindfulness – Maintaining full awareness of our actions and experiences in the present moment and their likely consequences.
- Right Concentration – The disciplining, concentration, and one-pointedness of the mind resulting in the practice of meditation.
The first two components of the Eightfold Path are related to wisdom, the following three to moral conduct, and the last three to mental discipline. (Engler, 2009)