Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The 4 Noble truths

After our guided meditation today the Venerable touched upon the four noble truths.The main Teaching of the Buddha focuses not on philosophical speculations about a Creator God or the origin of the universe, nor on a heaven world ever after. The Teaching, instead, is centred on the down-to- earth reality of human suffering and the urgent need to find lasting relief from all forms of discontent. The Buddha gave the simile of a man shot by a poison-tipped arrow who, before he would call a doctor to treat him, demanded to know first who shot the arrow and where the arrow was made and of what and by whom and when and where ... this foolish man would surely die before his questions could be well answered. In the same way, the Buddha said, the urgent need of our existence is to find lasting relief from recurrent suffering which robs us of happiness and leaves us in strife.
Philosophical speculations are of secondary importance and, anyway, they are best left until after one has well trained the mind in meditation to the stage where one has the ability to examine the matter clearly and find the Truth for oneself.
Thus, the central Teaching of the Buddha, around which all other teachings revolve is the Four Noble Truths:
1. First Noble Truth: Life is subject to 'suffering'
2. Second Noble Truth is that this suffering is caused by ignorance which results in desire
3. The Third Noble Truth is that suffering can be eliminated by the removal of desire
4. The Fourth Nobel Truth is the path to eliminate desire.
It would be mistaken to label this Teaching as 'pessimistic' on the grounds that it begins by centring on suffering. Rather, Buddhism is 'realistic' in that it unflinchingly faces up to the truth of life's many sufferings and it is 'optimistic' in that it shows a final end of the problem of suffering - Nibbana, Enlightenment in this very life! Those who have achieved this ultimate peace are the inspiring examples who demonstrate once and for all that Buddhism is far from pessimistic, but it is a Path to true Happiness.

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