What did Buddha teach? Well, the Four Noble Truths express the essential insights at the heart of Buddha Dharma – the freedom from struggle – as taught by the Buddha in his first teaching.
This first teaching comes from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which means the Turning of the Wheel of Truth.
(1) The truth of Dukkha. Dukkha can be translated as struggle, suffering, difficulty, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness, stressfulness. In short, life is inherently difficult because all things are impermanent, and we don’t want to hear that.
(2) Next, the truth of the origin of Dukkha. This is the insight that we build the struggle ourselves, which means that there is a cause or reason for struggle and suffering. We suffer when we try to cling even a single moment rather than accept each moment as it is.
(3) Then, the truth of the cessation of Dukkha. This is the insight and experience that it is possible to not be subject to struggle and suffering, that it is possible for all of us to live in an ongoing experience of awakening, freedom, happiness, compassion and peace.
(4) Finally, the truth of the path leading to the cessation of Dukkha. This is the insight of the key steps we can take towards awakening and freedom from being subject to struggle.
In the Buddha Dharma, this pivotal realization is called dukkha. It is often translated as “suffering,'” but has a much wider and richer meaning. The historical Buddha began his spiritual journey in earnest with three mesmerizing encounters with sickness, old age, and death.
The elegant clarity of the teaching of dukkha is also a great example of the whole Buddhist approach. Generally we try to ignore dukkha, or just as easily we can get overwhelmed and depressed by our own suffering and the suffering around us. So, the first Noble Truth is about seeing clearly into the nature of dukkha. When we are suffering, how often do we stop and simply examine and understand deeply what is going on? In the classical teachings, there are three main flavors of dukkha:
The truth of the path (the fourth Noble Truth), leads us to a solution in the form of the Eightfold Path – a methodology for complete spiritual awakening. Further, these eight are divided into three sections: panna, sila, and samadhi. One way to translate these are wisdom, calm coolness, and meditative absorption, and they correspond to mind, speech, and body.
The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path came at the beginning, and the Buddha went on to teach for forty years. Imagine what awaits those who delve deeper.
The words above connect us to the very first teachings of the Buddha, the Awakened One. Thankfully, these and many other teachings have survived for 2,500 years and give us a clear path out of suffering. And Clear Sky and its teachers and sangha form part of this unbroken lineage of wisdom. Clear Sky Retreat Center exists to help people on this path to transform struggle and embrace vitality.
So if this resonates and you want to go deeper, consider connecting with us by joining our mailing list, and by checking out our upcoming online courses and resources page. You can also see if there are classes with our local sangha happening near you.