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The Four Noble Truths
The story of the Buddha is not about you learning a load of facts; it is
about you looking inward. It is about looking in the mirror.
As the Buddha sat underneath the tree, he saw how the world really
is very clearly. He saw the truth that he had been searching for. He
He saw that one of the main problems for humans is that we don’t
see things clearly. We live in cloudy ignorance, constantly distracted
and restless. No matter what we do, and how much we have, we still
seem to want more and more. We do all that we can to avoid feeling
anything negative or bad. We find it difficult to rest in the present.
The Buddha meditated long and hard on the cause of suffering for
people. He said that if we look deeply into the cause of suffering we
see that all suffering is generated by the mind.
His teaching on suffering is called The Four Noble Truths.
Introducing the Four Noble Truths: Why do we suffer?
When learning about the Buddha, the following is a useful analogy:-
The Buddha is likened to a doctor.
When you have a persistent headache, what do you do?
What does the doctor then do?
What does he then do?
The Buddha identifies that we suffer, what the cause
of our suffering is, that it can be eased and how our suffering
can be eased. These are the Four Noble Truths.
The teaching is very practical: the Truths are things to do rather than
statements to believe. They are not commandments, simply invitations
that if we want to suffer less, this is how we can achieve it.
The Four Noble Truths
The Four sights
• Old Age
• Man who has in search of the truth.
What would it have been like for Siddhartha when he saw the first 3 sights for the first time?
The Four Noble Truths
1. Life involves suffering
2. The cause of all suffering is attachment to desire
3. Our suffering can be eased, dissolved
4. There is a way to achieve this
The First Noble Truth: Dukkha
Life involves suffering – a deep seated internal condition of dissatisfaction, a sort of restlessness.
Because we have a mind and because we have a body we suffer. It is inevitable.
Do you know this to be true?
Do you accept this? Do you live your life really accepting this truth?
Time to explore this more…
Identify the function of
each of the objects.
They all, in fact, have
exactly the same
function. What is it?
“The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way are…Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty or discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death loss and hiding from the basic truths of the natural and our nature. To insulate ourselves from the natural world we have air conditioners, heated cars and clothes that protect us from season. To insulate ourselves from the spectre of aging and we put smiling young people in our advertisements, while we relegate our old people to nursing homes and old-age establishments. We hide our mental patients in mental relegate our poor to ghettos. And we construct freeways these ghettos so that those fortunate enough not to live in not see the suffering they house. How do we manage so consistently to close ourselves off from truths of our existence? We use denial to turn away from the and difficulties of life…” (Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart)
If you were a doctor and you had to decide what the recommended
recommended action would be to overcome us avoiding suffering then
then what would you say?
“Feel the suffering to heal it.”
Acknowledge and recognise the suffering and dissatisfaction that you
experiencing and then try to understand the cause within yourself.
If you run away from suffering, you
The Second Noble Truth: Tanha
Identifies why we suffer.
All suffering has a single origin: attachment to the desire
for things to be different to how they are.
Not desire itself but attachment to it. It is generated by the
Tanha – attaching, grasping, clinging, craving.
The cause of all suffering, whether it be a tooth ache,
jealousy, bereavement or anger, has a single source:
What is the recommended action?
letting go, accepting the present, abandoning desire, being with
Students often ask how you can ease the suffering of a physical ailment
if the pain can still be felt as a sensation.
The answer to this is that the physical sensation of the toothache is
there, it hurts and is to be felt, but the suffering is generated by the mind
clinging to the desire for the toothache not to be there.
Although the pain remains, the suffering eases once the desire is
abandoned and the pain is accepted.
The students can now experience this for themselves by looking at the
The Third Noble Truth: This identifies that our suffering can be eased, dissolved and ended. This is a bit like the First Noble Truth: not only should be know this but we should also accept it and practice it. Make it into a real experience Practice this now… Write down something that causes you difficulty or suffering. Try to identify something specific (exam stress, physical pain). Now think about the following questions and write your response to each one. 1. How have I treated this difficulty so far? 2. How have I suffered by my response and reaction to it? 3. In what way am I ‘wanting things to be different to how they
are?’ 4. What does this problem invite me to ‘let go’ of? 5. How would the feeling of the situation change if I was able to
let go a bit and accept the situation a little more?
“If you let go a little, you get a little peace. If you let go a lot, you get a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you discover complete peace; your struggles with the world would have come to an end Ajahn Chah, a Buddhist meditation master from Thailand (died 1993)
Advertising and Suffering
We are told almost constantly that the key to our happiness lies in things which are external to us. This is the message with which you are bombarded every day. GET THIS, BE HAPPY!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxNtoJerwV4&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfE90BrM-qU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxdL5Wgnsjw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxNtoJerwV4&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxNtoJerwV4&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfE90BrM-qU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfE90BrM-qU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfE90BrM-qU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfE90BrM-qU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxdL5Wgnsjw&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxdL5Wgnsjw&feature=related
What is the ink between media and advertising and the first 3 three Noble
Truths that they have studied?
Find some examples and bring them to next lesson – look on the internet,
in magazines, on television, on billboards, on the radio, in shops –
anywhere! Bring it to the next lesson.
What is the advertisement promising?
What is it inviting you to want, to crave, to attach to?
How this is inviting you to change what currently is? Another way of
phrasing this is how is it inviting you to resist the what currently is?
How does this make you suffer?
How can your suffering be eased?
Share each other’s and ask the same questions.
Be mindful of this next time you see an advert. Be aware of how it is telling
you to be dissatisfied with what is. Feel how your suffering increases if you
cling to the desire to have the product.