Buddhism Dukkha is the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism. The word means suffering, but just to state suffering as the entirety of the first noble truth, is not enough because the expression of dukkha is the first truth that is needed for salvation. Moreover, dukkha is the conclusion of a logical chain of ideas that explains the life and death cycle of mankind. Before a person recognizes the truth of dukkha, he lives in a space of ignorance and with ignorance he seeks the fulfillment of his desires, yet with every demand met, he soon finds dissatisfaction. The longer a person lives the more apparent the truth of demise. With birth comes pain; with living comes pain and suffering. In life there is despair, confusion and grief.

In just one day a man experiences hunger and failure and sickness and at every moment that man knows that no matter how successful, or rich, or famous, or healthy he is; he will die. There is nothing externally that is safe because everything is temporal; even we are temporal. The knowledge of this truth is the first part of the Buddhist salvation. Knowing that all is futile and there is nothing externally that can release us from the truth is the acceptance of dukkha. Hidden in the first noble truth is the idea of dependence.

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The human is completely dependent on all that is around him and all that is not in his control. Even death brings a new cycle of rebirth, but it is not really new because the re-birth gathers all of the dependent conditioning activities of the last life cycle. The truth of dukkha has to be an absolute. It is foundational for salvation because it is release from ignorance. In addition, dukkha is unshakable and constant. Though it be the truth in the negative, it is the only safe harbor that one can cling.

The second noble truth is the answer to the first noble truth. That is, what is the root cause of dukkha? In fact, to leave man with dukkha alone there is no salvation. Gautama concluded that tanya is at the heart of dukkha. Tanya, translated-craving, or desire gives a logical explanation for suffering and another releasing truth. Man is born with thirst.

Thirst for physical and emotional satisfaction. Man loves friends and family that all perish with man. It is the love that is the problem, not the temporary nature of life. In addition, it is the desires of man that causes sufferings. The book of James stated the truth of tanya in James 1:14, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Gautama’s discipline in the second noble truth is to extinguish the craving.

It is man’s lusts, desires and cravings that are the cause of dukkha, certainly not the dukkha itself. Tanya also contains the concept of ignorance. Ignorance is the inability to see the truth about things, to see things as they really are. It is true that ignorance is a component of dukkha, but Gautama states that ignorance sits in the root cause of dukkha. Therefore, ignorance begins with tanya.

Plainly stated, ignorance is not the casual western definition of the word, but it is a link in a chain. For example, man strives for permanence and fulfillment, but he is ignorant of the fact that existence will never bring true satisfaction. The practices of satisfaction often times carries an evil type of karma that just fuels the fire for more karma due to the unsatisfied nature of man. So, it is self defeating to attempt to satisfy the desire. Although knowledge is an important aspect for the Buddhist way to salvation; it is not parallel to the Hindu belief that through knowledge-jnana salvation can be achieved. In Buddhist theory, knowledge is a tool that is utilized to achieve the basics of the need for nirvana.

The third noble truth is the sensation of dukkha. Since the root cause of dukkha is explained and known as truth, then with every cause, logically, there must be a way to stop the cause. This is the truth of nirodha. Again, it is another stage of enlightenment, but not the path to enlightenment. It is a foundational truth and the first three truths are connected through the thought processes. The second noble truth tells man the cause.

The third noble truth tells man the solution. Simply stated, cease to have desires, expectations and cravings. In the West, the idea of nirodha is expressed in the book The Road Less Traveled when in the first chapter the author states, ” Life is difficult. Once we accept that life is difficult, it is no longer difficult.” At first glance the third noble truth may cause one to believe in asceticism, but Buddhism is “the middle way” and asceticism did not work as a means of salvation for Siddhartha. Nirodha is actualized with the realization that pleasure is good, but temporary.

Dukkha is present, but acceptance of the good and the evil, or suffering part of the realm of dukkha brings release. Cessation of the experiences of dissatisfaction can be achieved. First, by accepting pleasure and the enjoyment of pleasure. Second, by accepting that all is impermanent. There is no grief once one internalizes the truth. Buddhism denies dualism and denies the existence of the human soul.

An aspect of nirodha is to quench the desire and craving; the experience of dukkha. Once quenched, there is liberation in the all aspects of life. With the realization that dissatisfaction is created through the human psyche, It is in ourselves that we can undermine the process. The fourth noble truth, magga, is the path by which man comes to know nirvana. The way to release is expressed in an eight fold path. The path is not meant to be a set of ethics to adhere to in fear of an external source, but a way to salvation and liberation from the samsara cycle.

Buddhism utilizes meditational and yogic disciplines. Without yoga and concentration the truths of the liberation cannot be realized. Nirvana is the ultimate goal, but the enlightenment is also a progression that begins with insight that leads to knowledge. From knowledge to calmness, then to a higher knowledge, enlightenment and finally nirvana. Religion Essays.


High in the mountains of the Himalayas chants ring out from the Tibetan monastery. For most this is a dream-like vacation to a far away land. For some of the people who live in Tibet and India this is everyday life as a Buddhist. Buddhism revolves around a strict code of daily rituals and meditations. To an outsider they can seem mystical or even odd, but these are the paths to enlightenment and spiritual salvation. Throughout the centuries, Buddhism has evolved into a major religion in Asia and other parts of the world.

The mystical roots of Buddhism can be traced back to the first century BCE. Buddhism began with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. When Siddhartha was born he was noticed as having the 32 auspicious signs of an enlightened one (Clark and Brown 3). His father, fearing Siddhartha would shun his inheritance, confined him to the walls of the palace, never allowing his son to experience want or suffering. However, Siddhartha on several occasions ventured outside the confines of the palace. On one of his visits into the city he saw an ascetic begging for alms in the city square. It was then that he realized that there was meaning beyond physical existence (Clark and Brown 3).Siddhartha then gave up his possessions to search for enlightenment. He discovers that by following the path of moderation, one can become enlightened (Clark and Brown 3). And so, he attained Buddhahood. Afterwards Buddha, the name given to an enlightened one, travels through India preaching and educating others about the middle path (Clark and Brown 3). From this, Buddhism was born.

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The religion of Buddhism is not entirely in a sphere of its own. In fact, it combines several influences born in and around the Asian continent. The first religious influence is Taoism. Taoism embraces the belief in the fluid like spirit that flows throughout everyone and everything. The primary belief of Taoists is that the universe is in constant change.
Taoists believe that nature and the earth is constantly in flux. Simply, the only
constant in the world is change. When individuals learn that growth and movement are natural and necessary, they can become balanced (Clark and Brown 7).

Taoism teaches self-control and the importance of meditation in searching for enlightenment.
The second influence is Confucianism. Put simply, Confucianism is the quest for order (Clark and Brown 8). Although it teaches the balance of family with society, Confucianism is more of a political ideology. In Asia, it concerns the division of property among citizens.

Lastly, among others, is Zen. This is the most important of Buddhist practice. Zen is more a ritual than a written in stone doctrine. The rituals deal with meditation and the path to enlightenment. Zen Buddhismis the basic practice of meditation in order to reach peace within ones self (Clark and Brown 8). For most Buddhists it is Zen that leads the way to enlightenment. The practice involves reflecting upon ones self and meditating in order to reach spiritual salvation, or Nirvana, the highest level of spiritual peace.
Buddhist practice can generally be divided into two sects, the Mahayana and the Theravada. The Theravada sect, the eldest, is commonly referred to as the tradition of the elderly (Hansen 4). The basic belief is that your station in life is directly related to the spiritual state of your soul. According to the beliefs, enlightenment is reserved for a select group of religious figures and scholars (Clark and Brown 5). As can be expected, the Theravada sect is less common. Followers of the Theravada are more commonly found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma (Hansen 4).
The second sect, the Mahayana, is the youngest one. It is commonly referred to as the Greater Vehicle. Mahayana differs in that it subscribes to the belief that all people can attain enlightenment through the help of a teacher. Members of the Mahayana hold to the notion of group salvation, as opposed to individual accomplishment (Clark and Brown 4). The Mahayana sect is more prevalent in Buddhist communities, and far more practiced than the Theravada.

The main difference between the two sects is how they interpret the texts. The Mahayana views the texts more liberally, emphasizing an equal chance for all humans to achieve enlightenment (Clark and Brown 4).

The way to enlightenment involves many rituals and practices. Tibetan Buddhist tools for awakening also promote relaxation and healing (Dharma Haven 1). Meditation is key to Buddhists. Before one can attain enlightenment, one must gain what is known as the four circles. The first circle is called the Fire of Wisdom. It is the outermost circle and consists of the purifying fire (Hansen 2). The second circle is called the Vajra circle. It is symbolized as the diamond circle, expressing ones fearlessness and strength. The third circle is the Tombs. This circle consists of eight tombs, each signifying the eight states of consciousness, which a person must work beyond. The fourth circle is the Lotus circle. This circle represents the open state of devotion (Hansen 2), which is necessary to achieve enlightenment.
Another practice among Buddhists is the Eightfold Path. One must follow the Eightfold Path, much like Christianitys Ten Commandments, in order to purify ones self and reach enlightenment. They are
1.Right belief
2.Right resolution
3.Right speech
4.Right action
5.Right living
6.Right effort
7.Right thinking
8.Peace of mind through meditation (Hansen 4).

These along with other beliefs help mold the theology behind Buddhism.

In all, Buddhism is a rich religion that affects the lives of millions of people throughout the world. Most importantly, Buddhism is a religion for all people. The religion emphasizes personal enlightenment as opposed to salvation from a higher being. The religion teaches that salvation lies in your own hands, and you are ultimately responsible for what you do, and the consequences that you face. Buddhism molds several ideologies and religions into its practices, appealing to a wide number of people, searching for salvation. Buddhist thought has helped to shape the lives of people as well as political institutions. In Japan Shintoism, the ancient cult over which the imperial family presided, had been largely eclipsed by Buddhism (Ralph et al 34). Aspects of the religion have also moved into the U.S.,
Growing interest in Asian culture and spiritual values in the West has led to the development of a number of societies devoted to the study and practice of Buddhism. Zen has grown in the United States to encompass more than a dozen meditation centers and a number of actual monasteries (McDermott 2).
The Buddhist religion encompasses a large spectrum of people all diverse but united under the words and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.

Works Cited
Clark, Laura, and Suzanne Brown. Vietnamese Buddhism. 18 Jan. 2000. .

Dharma Haven. Healing, Relaxing and Awakening: Tibetan Buddhist Methods. 16 Jan. 2000. . 18 May 1999.

Hansen, Jytte. Mandala. 17 Jan 2000. . 1 March 1997
McDermott, James Paul. Buddhism Today. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99.

Ralph, Phillip Lee, et al. World Civilizations: Their History and Culture. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 1997.


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