The Buddha's Four Noble Truths: a Logical Basis for Philosophy

1687 Words Sep 28th, 1999 7 Pages
The Buddha's Four Noble Truths: A Logical Basis for Philosophy

The Buddha Shakyamuni was born in the 6th century BCE in the area presently known as Nepal. During his 80 year lifetime, he systematically developed a pragmatic, empirically based philosophy which he claimed would lead its followers towards an enlightened existence. Buddhism is commonly called a religion; however, it differs from the usual definition of a religion in that it has no deities, does not promote worship of demigods, and is based on logical reasoning and observation rather than spiritual faith. At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the Buddha's enumeration of Four Noble Truths: Dukkha (suffering),
Samudaya (origin of suffering), Nirodha (cessation of
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The Buddha also noted that happiness itself, being a fleeting emotion, usually resulted in an eventual loss of happiness greater than the initial happiness. This loss of happiness is caused by the removal of whatever situation or object precipitated the happiness in the first place; therefore the transitory nature of life itself is the root of dukkha, in this case called viparinama. This leads to the conclusion that suffering is an inherent trait of existence itself, and is classified as samkhara. And thus the question is raised that if suffering is inherent in life itself, what is the cause (and the remedy) for this undesirable state of affairs? "There is this noble truth of the origin of suffering: It is craving, which produces renewal of being, is accompanied by relish and lust, relishing this and that; in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving for being, craving for nonbeing." - Shakyamuni Buddha{4}

While dukkha has a variety of direct causes, Buddhist doctrine teaches that at the heart of all suffering is a basal craving or thirst called tanhâ.
Tanha is defined in the original texts as "... this thirst which produces re- existence and re-becoming, and which is bound up with passionate greed, and which finds fresh delight now here and now there ...."{5} There are three sub- divisions of tanha: kama-tanhâ (desire for sensual pleasures), bhava-tanhâ
(desire for existence), and vibhava-tanhâ (desire for non-existence). These

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