The Four Noble Truths - By Bhikkhu Bodhi

Footprints of an elephant
The recorded teachings of the Buddha are numerous. But all these diverse teachings fit together into a single unifying frame, the teaching of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha compared the Four Noble Truths to the footprints of an elephant. Just as the footprint of an elephant can contain the footprints of any other animal, the footprints of tigers, lions, dogs, cats, etc. So all the different teachings of the Buddha fit into the single framework of the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha makes it clear that the realization of the Four Noble Truths coincides with the attainment of enlightenment itself. He says that when a Buddha appears in the world there is a teaching of the Four Noble Truths. So the special purpose of the Dhamma is to make known the Four Noble Truths and the special aim of those treading the path to enlightenment is to see for themselves the Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths are as follows:-

1.  The truth of Dukkha
2.  The truth of the origin of Dukkha
3.  The truth of the cessation of Dukkha
4.  The truth of the path, the way to liberation from Dukkha

The word 'Dukkha' has often been translated as suffering, pain and misery. But 'Dukkha' as used by the Buddha has a much wider and a deeper meaning. It suggests a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all existence, all forms of life, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. The term, dukkha, indicates a lack of perfection, a condition that never measures up to our standards and expectations.

Each word in the phrase "Four Noble Truths" is significant.
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