The insights that the Buddha gained at his enlightenment became known
as the dharma. In Buddhism, the word dharma means "teaching" or
"religious duty." Immediately after his enlightenment, the Buddha faced
a crucial decision: should he try to explain the truth that he had
discovered, or should he keep this difficult teaching to himself.
Although he was tempted to remain silent, the Buddha realized that
perhaps a few people would understand and receive his teaching.
Therefore he rose from his place of meditation, traveled to Benaras and
began preaching in the Deer Park. In that first sermon, he summed up the
insight he had gained as "The Four Noble Truths."
Four Noble Truths
1. The Truth of Suffering: The term the
Buddha used for suffering (dukkha) can refer to physical,
emotional or mental suffering. Basically, the Buddha realized that no
matter how good the present moment may be, suffering and death are
“Birth is suffering, sickness is suffering, old age is suffering, death is suffering. Pain, grief, sorrow, lamentation,
dejection and despair are suffering.”
2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering: The
Buddha located the cause of suffering in selfish desires (tanha).
In particular, human beings desire those things that cannot last.
In fact, the Buddha emphasized the point that desire can never be fulfilled, because
temporary and transient (anicca): life,
beauty, wealth, pleasure, enjoyment, power, etc. are only temporary.
Most remarkably, the Buddha taught that even what we think of as
the the self/soul is impermanent. This doctrine, known as anatta
is a recognition of the self is made up of many components which are
constantly changing. Human beings become frustrated, angry and face
suffering because they try to cling to those things that are ultimately
3. The Truth of the End of Suffering:
Suffering ceases when selfish desire ceases.
If existence is suffering, then suffering will only end when
individual existence ends. This state beyond existence is called
4. The Truth of the Path that leads to the end
of suffering: What are the practical steps one can take to
eliminate the selfish desires the lead to suffering? According to the
Buddha, anyone can end selfish desire by following the Eightfold Path.