The Four Noble Truths
- Dukkha – The truth of suffering.
- Samudaya – The truth of the cause of suffering.
- Nirhodha – The truth of the end of suffering.
- Magga – The truth of the path that frees us from suffering.
Life is suffering
I remember I was visiting a church one day, the theme of the series at the time, was ‘Different Religions’. On the Sunday that I attended, the pastor was trying to (very poorly I must admit) explain the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (aka my homie, The Buddha):
“The Buddha taught that life is just full of sadness and suffering and he said that we should remain completely detached from people, from love and from happiness, while Jesus on the other hand…”.
While this is kinda (partly) true-ish to an extent (not really), he said this in a very negative tone of voice and he made the teachings seem petty, silly and backwards (obviously to push his own faith-oriented agendas). Naturally, I had an issue with his interpretation as it seemed that he was implying that The Buddha was saying that life is just full of pain, sadness and agony and that we need to be completely detached from the world and not care at all about the people that we love etc.
No, this is not what the Buddha meant, not at all.
Humanities hopes for a suffer-free existence
The asymptotic states of consciousnesses (Nirvana) and the supposed post-life higher planes of existence (Heaven) that modern religions speak about – not to disregard them in anyway – seem to try and ensure/convince humanity that suffering/sadness can and in some cases will eventually be escaped, relieved, surpassed, if you either try hard enough, wait long enough, or follow the rules well enough.
But the truth is that as long as you are fully identified with the Ego, you will experience suffering, and even worse you will easily get lost in the suffering because that is the nature of an Ego-lead reality.
Without darkness, there is no light
People are born, people die, you make money, you lose money, you get sick, you get healed, you laugh, you cry, you make-up you, break up, you succeed, you fail, you win some, you lose some.
The dualities are numerous, the contrasts are infinite, for every up there is a down, for every smile there is a frown and that is just how life is at face value.
As the saying goes…”shit happens” – and to dig even further into that, for one to think that the shit mustn’t happen even after there was food consumed and digested, is quite illogical and absurd.
Ladies and gentlemen, the shit must happen, the shit has to happen, the shit needs to happen in order for the motion and balance of The Universe to be maintained. Life cannot just be filled with smiles, milk, honey, laughter, gold medals and first place podium finishes. It is solely because of the ‘bad things’, that we can have the ‘good things’, it is the existence of sadness that allows us to experience happiness, it is the presence of pain and suffering that allows us to be calm and at peace.
The cessation of suffering
Well in order to truly ‘escape’ the suffering, firstly you must accept the inevitable dichotomies of life (as noted above), secondly, you have to understand that you choose to suffer (choose might be a strong word in some cases). Yes, that statement must hurt at first but if you think about it a bit more deeply it will make a lot more sense.
No feeling that you have ever experienced came from somewhere outside of yourself. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” eludes to the fact that our perception of this objective reality dictates what we see, we define our inner reality, we piece together our inner world and that is where all the suffering you have ever experienced, are currently experiencing and will ever experience emerges from; from within.
So if you keep looking at life from a naive point of view, without a deeper knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the intricacies of reality – then your life will indeed be ‘full of suffering’. But if you abstract yourself away from this life (detachment) and realise that suffering is the nature of a human Ego-lead reality, then you can escape the bondage of your perceived suffering and see life for what it truly is, a pool of contrasts that the majority of us have not learned how to swim in.
“I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach”, declared the Buddha 2500 years ago.