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The Four Noble Truths
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Overview of the Four Noble Truths

The Buddha's first sermon after his Enlightenment centered on the Four Noble Truths, which are the foundation of Buddhism. The truths are:
1. The truth of suffering (dukkha)
2. The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
3. The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
4. The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)
Recognizing Suffering

The Truth of Suffering: The First Noble Truth often is translated as "Life is suffering." Many people new to Buddhism tune out as soon as they hear this. But the Pali word "dukkha" also refers to anything that is temporary, conditional, or compounded of other things. Even something precious and enjoyable is dukkha, because it will end. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering: The Second Noble Truth teaches that the cause of suffering is craving or thirst (tanha). We continually search for something outside ourselves to make us happy. But no matter how successful we are, we never remain satisfied. The Buddha taught that this thirst grows from ignorance of the self. We go through life grabbing one thing after another to get a sense of security about ourselves. We attach not only to physical things, but also to ideas and opinions about ourselves and the world around us. Then we grow frustrated when the world doesn't behave the way we think it should and our lives don't conform to our expectations.
Ending Suffering

The Truth of the End of Suffering: The Buddha taught that, through diligent practice, we can put an end to craving. Ending the hamster-wheel chase after satisfaction is enlightenment (bodhi, "awakened"). The enlightened being exists in a state called Nirvana. The Truth of the Path That Frees Us From Suffering: Here, the Buddha as physician prescribes the treatment for our illness: The Eightfold Path. Unlike in many other religions, in Buddhism, there is no particular benefit to merely believing in a doctrine. Instead, the emphasis is on living the doctrine and walking the path.

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