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Lions Roar : March 2018
These Truths Will Set You Free by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche In the Buddha’s first sermon, given in Sarnath, India, and addressed to his first five students, the Buddha taught the four noble truths. These are: the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to cessation. Buddha presented these four truths in sets of two: the cause and result of samsara and the cause and result of nirvana. Samsara refers to a state of existence that is characterized by a predomin- ance of suffering, and nirvana refers to the state of liberation from suffering as well as to the cessation of its causes. When we examine these four noble truths, we see that the first truth is the result—suffering—caused by the second truth, the origin of suffering. The third truth is the result—nirvana— which is realized through the fourth noble truth, the path that leads to cessation of suffering. The Four Noble Truths SUFFERING & THE END OF SUFFERING The entire Buddhist path is contained in four simple, logical truths. 1. The Truth of Suffering The clear message of the first noble truth is that all of samsaric existence and all of our experiences of it are characterized by suffering, regardless of the type of life we may be leading. However, as human beings, we have both the opportunity and capacity to work with our suffering. The first step to bringing suffering onto the path is to recog- nize and acknowledge it, instead of denying it. Once we can do that, we have some ground for developing the further recog- nition that all our experiences, whether pleasurable or painful, have the same nature of suffering. Denial does not alleviate our suffering, nor does it help to free us from suffering and its causes. Obviously, if we do not recognize the presence of suffering, we will have no reason to seek liberation. Why is suffering the nature of existence? Everything that exists or can be experienced on the level of relative reality is composite in nature. Therefore, it is impermanent and subject to birth and death. The fundamental logic here is that since impermanence is found at every level of existence,