Life always involves suffering, in obvious and subtle forms. Even when things seem good, we always feel an undercurrent of anxiety and uncertainty inside.
2. The Cause of Suffering
The cause of suffering is craving and fundamental ignorance. We suffer because of our mistaken belief that we are a separate, independent, solid “I.” The painful and futile struggle to maintain this delusion of ego is known as samsara, or cyclic existence.
3. The End of Suffering
The good news is that our obscurations are temporary. They are like passing clouds that obscure the sun of our enlightened nature, which is always present. Therefore, suffering can end because our obscurations can be purified and awakened mind is always available to us.
4. The Path
By living ethically, practicing meditation, and developing wisdom, we can take exactly the same journey to enlightenment and freedom from suffering that the buddhas do. We too can wake up.
Further reading on the Four Noble Truths and what they might mean to you:
The Message of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths — In short, it’s that paying attention and seeing clearly lead to behaving impeccably in every moment, out of love, and on behalf of all beings. Sylvia Boorstein explains.
The Four Noble Truths of Emotional Suffering — The Buddha laid out a four-step path to freedom from difficult emotions. The secret, says Anyen Rinpoche, is understanding why our emotions cause us so much suffering. Once we know that, the path to freedom becomes clear.
The Buddha’s Noble First Teaching — Tulku Thondup on the four simple and practical statements that encompass the entire Buddhist path, the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.