The Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path
“Oh Bhikhus, there are Four Noble Truths. They are the Noble Truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path to the cessation of suffering.”
As the Buddha’s first Dharma teaching, probably more than any other Buddhist teaching The Four Noble Truths – Ariasat See directly lets us see the important emphasis Buddha put for us to understand what suffering is, what is it that suffers, and why. This statement by the Buddha says a great deal about The Four Noble Truths:
“All I teach is suffering and the end of suffering.”
When Buddha first set in motion The Wheel of Dharma he talked about The Four Noble Truths, “Noble” because they are the most simple yet profound of all Dharma teachings. The first 3 Noble Truths, state that suffering exists, there is a cause and that we can erase that cause. Whereas, the 4th Noble Truth, The Eight Fold Path summarizes the main Middle Path philosophy of the Buddha Dharma to erase the cause of suffering, to erase suffering, while thoroughly understanding it and knowing how to prevent its arising.
The First Noble Truth states that all living beings suffer. Let’s stop for a minute and contemplate what suffering means. Each person will have their own personal experience of suffering. To me suffering is feeling trapped, mentally blocked, negative, stuck predominantly in the mind which engages the body and spirit to be stuck as well.
Two favorite quotes that expresses traumatic suffering and how to approach it, are from Viktor E. Frankl, who refers to the time he was in a German concentration camp in his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
“ . . . That someone looks down on each of us in difficult hours — a friend, a wife, somebody alive or dead, or a God — and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly — not miserably — knowing how to die.”
“I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.”
Nelson Mandala, who was put in prison for 27 years for attempting to overthrow the Apartheid government wrote:
“Our human compassion binds us one to the other—not in pity or in patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
It was stated that Mr. Mandela survived in prison due to two reasons. One, because of the community of fellow political prisoners he was a part of, who all stood for the same cause. And two, due to his sincere lack of personal animosity toward any of those who were in charge of his imprisonment.
Anne Frank, hid from the Germans within a “Secret Annex”, when they occupied The Netherlands during WWII from 1942 to 1944. In The Diary of a Young Girl, she documents her time in hiding:
“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that will one day destroy us too. I see the suffering of millions. But yet when I look up at the sky I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, the peace and tranquility will return once more.”
It was only a few weeks after Anne’s death that Bergen-Belsen, the prison camp she was in, was liberated by the allied forces.
The Second Noble Truth states that there is a cause to suffering. There is a reason why living beings suffer. Suffering doesn’t just fall from the sky, it can’t just be imposed upon you . . . or can it?
The Third Noble Truth states that there is a way to alleviate the cause of suffering, and the suffering will end.
The Fourth Noble Truth is the path out of suffering. This is The Eight Fold Path as discussed in one of the next sections.
Initially when someone decides to fast they want to clean the body, open the mind and want to make a major change in their life. Many times a person is holding on to an abusive habit, a toxic lifestyle, and in turn, a toxic mind. Many people who come to Dharma Healing are suffering for many different reasons. In each case, the person cleanses and grieves, purging years of toxins that have transformed into deep physical and mental pain. Miraculously, at the end of a fast while embracing a vision toward a better life, remarkable benefits abound on how to prevent suffering or heal it quickly before it has time to penetrate consciousness of mind and body.
The Eightfold Path/Mak Mee Ong Paat
The Eight Fold Path is eight parts of one path. The path is a guide to a happy, honest, harmless and joyful way of life toward enlightenment. It is emphasizes the Middle Path toward liberation. The parts are:
Right Intention/Saa Ma Thit Thi – Right Direction/Sam Ma Sang Goo Pa – Right Speech/Sam Ma Wa Ja – Right Action/Sam Ma Gam Man – – Right Livelihood/Sam Ma Chee Wa – Right Effort/Sam Ma Wa Ya Ma – Right Mindfulness/Sam Ma Sa Dti – Right Meditation/Sam Ma Sa Ma Thi
The parts are often broken into three groups that make them more practical for daily contemplation:
|Wisdom||Right Understanding/Intention||The light bulb goes on in your head; you “know” what is true, what is Right; there is enthusiasm.|
|Right Thought/Direction||Knowing determines the Right direction to go in—it is quite clear and determined.|
|Meditation||Right Effort||Putting a determined energy into good ventures.|
|Right Mindfulness||Being present now—there is no other reality.|
|Right Meditation||Being present allows the mind to be empty, to focus on breath and observe itself.|
|Morality||Right Speech||Speaking only the truth, never lying, swearing or screaming.|
|Right Action||Behaving selflessly, constructively, and harmlessly to all living beings (including yourself).|
|Right Livelihood||Choosing a livelihood that permits you to follow your heart that helps others, on a path toward liberation and enlightenment.|