We have come to the last of the Four Noble Truths. It is my hope that this four part brief introductory series on this deep Buddhist belief has been helpful to you. The Fourth Noble Truth is: the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. One must remember that Buddhism holds the reduction and cessation of suffering as a high priority. Not just of our own suffering but that of all sentient beings. The Buddha laid down the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. The path is the Noble Eightfold Path. The details of this fascinating path will be explained in other posts.
For now, let’s just meditate on the notion of a path that could actually lead to the cessation of suffering! Can you imagine such a Way? The idea that suffering alone could cease (Third Noble Truth) is mind boggling enough. But, to add that there is a repeatable path that leads to the cessation of suffering is mind blowing. If one is really serious about his/her spiritual walk, then a repeatable path that leads to the cessation of suffering must be of interest. Of course, the right causes and conditions must be present in one’s self to achieve this state. Those who have done so have achieved nirvana.
Personally, I believe that we’d have to first believe in these truths before we can attempt to walk the path. Perhaps, that is the biggest hurdle to applying and living the wisdom of these concepts. Believing any of this might prove difficult. Especially for those who have suffered a lot and over extended periods of time. Buddhism teaches that attaining enlightenment does not require any specific amount of time. If the right causes and condition exist for a person then the Buddha nature within each of us will naturally emerge. This could happen in a relatively short amount of time or take several thousand life times! It really depends on us and our own karma.
We don’t all suffer from the exact same things. We all struggle with suffering tailored made to ourselves. However, what the Buddha intended to show with these four truths is that all suffering could be understood and eradicated. I believe we could all even self-verify these four truths. Think about something that has caused you to suffer. Think about what caused it. Then think about how it eventually ended. (assuming here it did) Finally, think about what the path was that led to the cessation of that particular suffering. Was it some counseling, a process of letting go, the passage of time or changing some habits? Maybe is was sincerely asking for for forgiveness or giving it. Maybe it was a combination of all these?
If we think about this entire process and how it has already played out in some way in our own lives, it makes the Fourth Noble Truth seem not so inconceivable, right? When we think about all of the things that cause us suffering going away it seems impossible. Look at each suffering individually and they all become less daunting. The more I think about it the more I accept that the process of relieving our own suffering could be so much easier if we broke it down into baby steps. I look forward to sharing the path as described by the Buddha that leads to the cessation of suffering with you in upcoming posts. Please do continue to read along and don’t be to shy too leave any questions, comments or thoughts. I’ll be sure to respond. Peace and blessings…
-Sensei Derek Fletcher