This is an overview of The Four Noble Truths, one of the key Buddhist teachings, as described by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, with a little help from Emoji.
The Four Noble Truths:
1. Suffering (Dukkha)
The root meaning of the Chinese character for suffering is “bitter.” Happiness is sweet; suffering is bitter. We all suffer to some extent. We have some malaise in our body and our mind. We have to recognize and acknowledge the presence of this suffering and touch it. To do so, we may need the help of a teacher and a Sangha, friends in the practice.
2. The making of suffering (Samudaya)
The Second Noble Truth is the origin, roots, nature, creation, or arising (samudaya) of suffering. After we touch our suffering, we need to look deeply into it to see how it came to be. We need to recognize and identify the spiritual and material foods we have ingested that are causing us to suffer.
3. Well being (Nirodha)
The Third Noble Truth is the cessation (nirodha) of creating suffering by refraining from doing the things that make us suffer. This is good news! The Buddha did not deny the existence of suffering, but he also did not deny the existence of joy and happiness. If you think that Buddhism says, “Everything is suffering and we cannot do anything about it,” that is the opposite of the Buddha’s message. The Buddha taught us how to recognize and acknowledge the presence of suffering, but he also taught the cessation of suffering. If there were no possibility of cessation, what is the use of practicing? The Third Truth is that healing is possible.
4. Path of well being (Marga)
The Fourth Noble Truth is the path (marga) that leads to refraining from doing the things that cause us to suffer. This is the path we need the most. The Buddha called it the Noble Eightfold Path. The Chinese translate it as the “Path of Eight Right Practices”: Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.