The Four Noble Truths
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch:
One day, a monk named Zhi Chang asked the Patriarch, “The Buddha spoke of “Three Vehicles” and also that of the “Supreme Vehicle”. As i do not understand this, Will you please explain?”
The Six Patriarch Hui-Neng replied “You should introspect your own mind and do not cling to outer forms. From the outset there were no four vehicles, but the human mind itself has four grades; therefore the Dharma has four vehicles.
Seeing, hearing, reciting – this is the Small Vehicle. Awakening to the Dharma and understanding its principle – this is the Middle Vehicle. Practicing accoring to the Dharma – This is the Great Vehicle. Fully acquiring and comprehending all Dharma, with no defilement in mind and no attachments to forms, and in all actions obtaining nothing in return – this is the Supreme Vehicle.
“Vehicle” means practice; it is nothing that can be debated, but something that you must cultivate on your own. So don’t ask me.”
The Dharma of the Four Noble Truths was first preached to the five monks at the garden of LuYe after Gautama Buddha enlightened. The Four Noble Truths are also known as the Four Truths. They are Truths perceived by sages, which are- (**click each of them for more in depth detail)
- The truth of suffering (dukkha)
- The truth of the cause of suffering
- The truth of the cessation of suffering
- The truth of the path that frees us from suffering
The Four Noble Truths are basically investigating the original substance of suffering and the solution to end suffering.
Gautama Buddha is often compared to a physician. In the first two Noble Truths, Buddha diagnosed the problem, which is suffering, and identified what causes suffering. The third Noble Truth is the realization that there is a cure to cease suffering. The fourth Noble Truth is the prescription, the path that frees us from suffering.
Extend reading: The basics of mind-cultivation