The Four Noble Truths

Rachel Martin- 3

Existence is suffering

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Through out life everything suffers whether it’s a plant in need of water or a person not knowing who they are. Siddhartha struggles to find what he needs in life, struggling to find himself. “The reason why I do not know anything about myself, the reason why Siddhartha has remained alien and unknown to myself is due to one thing, to one single thing- I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself.” (page 38). This struggle causes him to suffer until he awakens, “a pale face on the hill of the dead, looked away, locked his heart fought and strove against his fate.” (page 117). When a flower is in need of a water it sits dieing, waiting for water. Suffering while it is still alive.

Suffering Arises from Desire

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Siddhartha wanted to learn every thing he could having a thirst for knowledge. While beauty of an object causes others to suffer. On Siddhartha’s journey to Nirvana he thought knowledge was all he needed to reach Nirvana, trying to learn everything he could from his teachers. Siddhartha had realized, “too much knowledge had hindered him; too many holy verses, too many sacrificial rites, too much mortification of the flesh, too much doing and striving. He had been full of arrogance; he had always been the cleverest, the most eager- always a step ahead of the others, always the learned and intellectual one, always the priest or the sage.” (page 99). To reach Nirvana one can’t have a thirst for knowledge, because it only causes desire. Many desire, something beautiful in their life, such as a rose. As a rose is picked, one much watch for the thorns. The desire of something beautiful can make one suffer if they aren’t aware of the thorns.

Suffering Ends when Desire Ends

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Suffering ends when desire ends, is represented by Siddhartha during his transition to an ascetic life and Kamala’s bird. Until Siddhartha had been come ascetic, taking what he could get, he desired many things but not being able to quite get them resulted in suffering. He had, “stood in the fierce sun’s rays, filled with pain and thirst, and stood until he no longer felt pain and thirst. Silently he stood in the rain, water dripping from his hair on to his freezing shoulders, on to his freezing hips and legs. And the ascetic stood until his shoulders and legs no longer froze, till they were silent, till they were still.” (page 14). His body now longer suffered once he began not to desire water and warmth. A caged bird desires to spread its wings and to fly around freely, making the caged bird to suffer. Kamala, “went to the window where she kept a rare songbird in a golden cage. She opened the door of the cage, took the bird out and let it fly away. For a long time she looked after the disappearing bird.” In everyone and everything desire can cause suffering, but once desire ends so does the suffering.

The way to end desire is to follow the Eight-Fold Path

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On a Buddhist’s path to Nirvana they believe the way to end desire is to follow the Eight-Fold path. This makes Siddhartha feel “empty”, and becomes his one goal to, “, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure, and sorrow- to let the Self die.” Making him, “no longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart, to experience pure thought- that was his goal. When all passions and desires were silent, then the last must awaken, the innermost of Being that is no longer Self- the great secret!” (page 14). Once desire ends, one can truly awaken. In my picture the path is hidden and hard to find, but one you find it you find a beautiful place as it guides you to the other side. Like a Buddhist is guided by the Eight-Fold path.