Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths

The First Noble Truth is called dukkha, which focuses on the main undertone of Buddhism, suffering. Although Buddha understands it is possible to enjoy things that there is an undertone of sadness beneath it all. Smokie Robinson has a couple of songs that explain the idea of having a good time while having sadness buried beneath the surface called “The Tracks of My Tears” and “The Tears of a Clown” where he sings about seeming fine in public but deep down he is sad. Hutson Smith used an example to explain the idea of dukkha as a shopping cart that does not steer properly because something is not working right. Buddha outlines six very specific times when this is prominent; the birth of trauma, in illness, in old age as your body falls apart, in fear of approaching death, being separated from what you love, and to be saddled with what you hate.

The Second Noble Truth is called tanha. Tanha is the cause of dukkha and is translated as desire, a specific type of desire for private fulfillment. It is specifically, selfish cravings. Tanha is rooted in ego which ruins many people. Smith uses an example of a group photo and asks who you see first. I read that sentence several times before I understood that in the group photo, I look for myself first.

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The Third Noble Truth is the cure to tahna, selfish cravings. The idea is that if we can overcome self-interest, we can find relief from torment. The last and final Noble Truth is how to overcome tahna, which is through The Eightfold Path.

I was hoping that these truths provided more insight, but they simply were what they are called truths. These truths are to acknowledge suffering, why we suffer, what cures suffering and how to use the cure. Once I took a step back and understood that the truths were expressing that if we remove desire rooted in self-interest, we can find peace.

Read about the Eightfold Path to understand how to overcome tahna.

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