In short, they represent the Buddha’s basic teaching that liberates humans from suffering. These four truths could be summarized as follows:
1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle
Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we don’t experience permanent satisfaction in anything but might feel an undercurrent of inner anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of presence.
2. Craving Is The Cause Of Suffering
The cause of suffering is craving that stems from ignorance. We suffer because we have a tendency to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the fact that life is impermanent and change is constant – rather, we grow frustrated when the world doesn’t behave the way we think it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push some things while grasping others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different from what it is and causes discomfort.
Since we are ultimately those that cause our own suffering by perpetuating the cycle of craving and resistance, we also have the ability to end our suffering. Even when life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we react to it. By awakening to the true nature of our classic souls, we could end the chase after outside satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it’s not the suffering that ceases, but the craving.
4. There Is A Path From Suffering
By adopting the path of right living, we can wake up to our Higher nature. This route involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal practice that affirms our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately contributes to enlightenment.
The majority of us struggle with the practical application of these Four Noble Truths. Our human tendency is to avoid all suffering and pain, which only perpetuates our struggle.
Instead, I suggest we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for proper living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more efficiently. By introducing the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.
Practical Application with AREA
When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in proper ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and finally expand the area or scope of our True nature.
Accept Life As Is
once we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; insteadwe recognize it for being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we could view it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.
The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, making them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of every moment.
Human neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without religious awareness. Our perceptions are always providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in a different way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to react to; not hindrance to respond to, judge, resist or avoid.
When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with medication or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell usand once we know the deeper message, we’ll have the ability to respond appropriately so the messenger can be published. This process of responding instead of reacting allows us to create more internal space for growth in consciousness.
It is essential to learn how to react to life’s difficulties having an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and surrender that to which you cling.”
Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are in truth nothing other than learned behaviours and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them opens up space for us to thrive.
In shamanic traditions, proper action is known as”right living.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, reactions and beliefs. It nurtures the growth of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.
The more we fine-tune our answers to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more internal freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the heart of all personal growth. Developing a path of proper action nourishes us all degrees and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.
Using AREA can serve as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The result is much more inner peace, harmony and joy.