Today's homework assignment involves the Four Noble Truths (or as I like to say them, the Four Nople Troofs). For those of you who don't already know, after Siddharta sat under the ficus tree for however long he sat (six years is the common myth), he emerged with the basics of Buddhism: the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
Now of course he didn't just sit down and say, "Here are these four things. Memorize them." Nah... that would have been too easy. Instead he gave them some foreign name then explained them. So when you see the Four Noble Truths, you are really seeing somebody else's interpretation of what those truths are. Wouldn't it be interesting to see several different versions of the Four Noble Truths? I know that my guiding teacher thinks it would be interesting! So here we go.
NOTE: Zen Master Seung Sahn's version will be the first.
1. Suffering: all things are suffering.
Life means suffering.
The Nature of Suffering, "Dukkha" (not to be confused with Count Dooku, although perhaps we have some insight into his name):
"This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."
The Existence of Impermanence.
This is Suffering.
Existence is suffering (The truth of suffering).
2. Origination: the twelve links of dependent origination, in order.
The origin of suffering is attachment.
Suffering's Origin, "Samudaya" (NOT Mocha Chocalata ya ya):
"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."
The Arising of Suffering Because of Craving.
The Causes of Suffering.
Suffering is caused by desire (The truth of the cause of suffering).
This suffering is caused by human craving.
3. Stopping: the twelve links of dependent origination, in reverse order.
The cessation of suffering is attainable.
Suffering's Cessation, "Nirodha" (Remember the TV show, Rhoda? It was a spin-off of Mary Tyler Moore.):
"This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."
The Cessation of Suffering.
SUffering Can End, Nirvana is Peace.
Eliminate the cause of suffering and the suffering will cease to arise (The truth of cessation of suffering).
There is a cessation of the suffering, which is nirvana (unless you don't like Grunge).
4. The path: the eightfold path.
The path to the cessation of suffering.
The Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, "Magga":
"This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."
The Middle Way, or the Noble Eightfold Path.
The True Path, or Eight-fold Noble Path.
The eight fold path (or middle way) is the way to eliminate desire (The truth of the path).
Nirvana can be achieved, in this or future lives, through the "eightfold path." DANG!
The Three Seals of Existence
Another realization the Siddharta came to was that all things are marked by three characteristics. The understanding of each of these leaves an scar on your consciousness that can never be removed!
1. All compound things are impermanent. Things are constantly changing from creation to destruction. Knowing this helps you to not be so attached to stuff.
2. All Dharmas are without self-nature. Since things constantly change, nothing has a lasting essence, not laws or names or cats or pineapples or blogs!
3. Nirvana is perfect stillness. Understanding that things are impermanent and without self-nature, you are not taken in my names and forms. This leads you to understand that the universe is already completely empty and still. Nothing ever comes and goes!