Craving is a powerful mental force present in all of us.
It is the root cause of our sufferings. It is this
craving which binds us in Samsara - the repeated cycle
of birth and` death. The Third Noble Truth points to the
cessation of suffering. Where there is no craving, there
is no becoming, no rebirth. Where there is no rebirth,
there is no decay. no, old age, no death, hence no
suffering. That is how suffering is ended, once and for
As we recall
the Buddha and his Enlightenment, we are immediately
reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and
insight which arose in him on the night of his
Enlightenment. This coincided with three important
events which took place, corresponding to the three
watches or periods of the night.
During the first watch of the night, when his mind was
calm, clear and purified, light arose in him, knowledge
and insight arose. He saw his previous lives, at first
one, then two, three up to five, then multiples of them
.. . ten, twenty, thirty to fifty. Then 100, 1000 and so
on.... As he went on with his practice, during the
second watch of the night, he saw how beings die and are
reborn, depending on their Karma, how they disappear and
reappear from one form to another, from one plane of
existence to another.
Then during the final watch of the night, he saw the
arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and
physical. He saw how things arose dependent on causes
and conditions. This led him to perceive the arising and
cessation of suffering and all forms of
unsatisfactoriness paving the way for the eradication of
all taints of cravings. With the complete cessation of
craving, his mind was completely liberated. He attained
to Full Enlightenment. The realisation dawned in him
together with all psychic powers. The First Noble Truth
out of four Noble Truths is the Truth of Dukkha which
has been generally translated as ‘suffering’. But the
term Dukkha, which represents the Buddha’s view of life
and the world, has a deeper philosophical meaning.
Birth, old age, sickness and death are universal. All
beings are subject to this unsatisfactoriness.
Separation from beloved ones and pleasant conditions,
association with unpleasant persons and conditions, and
not getting what one desires - these are also sources of
suffering and unsatisfactoriness. The Buddha summarises
Dukkha in what is known as the Five Grasping Aggregates.
Herein, lies the deeper philosophical meaning of Dukkha
for it encompasses the whole state of being or
existence. Our life or the whole process of living is
seen as a flux of energy comprising of the Five
aggregates, namely the Aggregate of Form or the Physical
process, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation, and
These are usually classified as mental and physical
processes, which are constantly in a state of flux or
change. When we train our minds to observe the
functioning of mental and physical processes we will
realise the true nature of our lives. We will see how it
is subject to change and unsatisfactoriness. And as
such, there is no real substance or entity or Self which
we can cling on to as ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘mine’. When we
become aware of the unsatisfactory nature of life, we
would naturally want to get out from such a state. It is
at this point that we begin to seriously question
ourselves about the meaning and purpose of life.
This will lead us to seek the Truth with regards to the
true nature of existence and the knowledge to overcome
From the Buddhist point of view, therefore, the purpose
of life is to put an end to suffering and all other
forms of unsatisfactoriness - to realise peace and real
happiness. Such is the significance of the understanding
and the realisation of the First Noble Truth.
The Second Noble Truth explains the Origin or Cause of
suffering. Tanha or craving is the universal cause of
suffering. It includes not only desire for sensual
pleasures, wealth and power, but also attachment to
ideas, views, opinions, concepts, and beliefs. It is the
lust for flesh, the lust for continued existence (or
eternalism) in the sensual realms of existence, as well
as the realms of form and the formless realms. And there
is also the lust and craving for non-existence (or
nihilism). These are all different Forms of selfishness,
desiring things for oneself, even at the expense of
others. Not realizing the true nature of one’s Self, one
clings on to things which are impermanent, changeable
and perishable. The failure to satisfy one’s desires
through these things; causes disappointment and
suffering. Craving is a powerful mental force present in
all of us. It is the root cause of our sufferings. It is
this craving which binds us in Samsara - the repeated
cycle of birth and` death.
The Third Noble Truth points to the cessation of
suffering. Where there is no craving, there is no
becoming, no rebirth. Where there is no rebirth, there
is no decay. no, old age, no death, hence no suffering.
That is how suffering is ended, once and for all.
The Fourth Noble Truth explains the Path or the Way
which leads to the cessation of suffering. It is called
the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold path avoids the extremes of
self-indulgence on one hand and self-torture on the
other. It consists of Right Understanding, Right
Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood,
Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
These path factors may be summarised into 3 stages of
training, involving morality, mental culture and wisdom.
Morality or good conduct is the avoidance of evil or
unwholesome actions — actions which are tainted by
greed, hatred and delusion; and the performance of the
good or wholesome actions, - actions which are free from
greed, hatred and delusion, but motivated by liberality,
loving-kindness and wisdom.
The function of good conduct or moral restraint is to
free one’s mind from remorse (or guilty conscience). The
mind that is free from remorse (or guilt) is naturally
calm and tranquil, and ready for concentration with
awareness. The concentrated and cultured mind is a
contemplative and analytical mind.
It is capable of seeing cause and effect, and the true
nature of existence, thus paving the way for wisdom and
Wisdom in the Buddhist context, is the realisation of
the fundamental truths of life, basically the Four Noble
Truths. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths
provide us with a proper sense of purpose and direction
in life. They form the basis of problem-solving.
The message of the Buddha stands today as unaffected by
time and the expansion of knowledge as when they were
first enunciated. No matter to what lengths increased
scientific knowledge can extend man’s mental horizon,
there is room for the acceptance and assimilation for
further discovery within -the framework of the teachings
of the Buddha.
The teaching of the Buddha is open to all to see and
judge for themselves.
The universality of the teachings of the Buddha has led
one of the world’s greatest scientists, Albert Einstein
to declare that ‘if there is any religion that could
cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism’
The teaching of the Buddha became a great civilising
force wherever it went.
Realising the transient nature of life and all worldly
phenomena, the Buddha has advised us to work out our
deliverance with heedfulness, as `heedfulness is the
path to the deathless’.
His clear and profound teachings on the cultivation of
heedfulness otherwise known as Satipatthana or the Four
Foundations of Mindfulness, is the path for the
purification of beings - for the overcoming of sorrows
and lamentation, for the destruction of all mental and
physical sufferings, for the attainment of insight and
knowledge and for the realisation of Nibbana.