Month: May 2022

What is:The Four Noble Truths (4 of4)

The Fourth Noble Truth – The path to the cessation of suffering.

Whether I’m here or not, the absence of true phenomena is always here.

Without understanding suffering, it causes and the existence of a state which is free from this suffering, there will be no use in taking the path of cessation. The root of the origin of suffering is ignorance – Not knowing that things are not truly existent, and have always been empty of existence. This ignorance is impermanent and adventitious when we realise that there is no more suffering and no more reincarnation in samsara. In order to achieve this ultimate liberation, we need to realise the wisdom of selflessness of self and phenomena. This is not an easy path, but slowly through meditation practices on the nature of our mind, our delusions decrease.

In Maitraya’s Abisamayalnkara, Bodhicitta, the mind for enlightenment, is explained:

With the accumulation of merit as the cause and the accumulation of wisdom as the condition, one achieves the form body of a Buddha (Rupakaya) for the benefit of others. By the accumulation of wisdom as the cause and of merit as the condition, one achieves the Dharmakaya body for one’s own benefit.


  • Path: To counter the view that there is no possibility of liberation and stable happiness
  • Suitability: To counter the saying that wisdom realise selflessness is not the path
  • Achievement:  To counter the view of those who believe that there is liberation and a path, but that achieving the peak of existence through stabilised meditation (worldly path of Brahma) is nirvana and liberation. It is actually possible to achieve real, complete liberation
  • Deliverance:   To counter the idea that suffering is permanent. Suffering can be exhausted and there is no more need for rebirth in samsara. This is the ultimate freedom.

Taking refuge is entering the path that leads us to the state of enlightenment. There are five paths we can rely on to eliminate our suffering and achieve liberation. If one practices the unmistaken path of Dzogchen purely, it is possible to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Dzogchen, also known as Atiyoga, is a tradition of teachings in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism aimed at discovering and continuing in the ultimate ground of existence. This primordial ground is said to have the qualities of purity, spontaneity and compassion. But whether you can achieve the result is up to you.


  • The path of accumulation.
  • The path of preparation.
  • The path of seeing.
  • The path of meditation.
  • The path of no more learning.
  • The path of accumulation..

The path of accumulation: This is where we begin the accumulation of merit and wisdom, which become the causes for the achievement of the 2 bodies of the Buddha (the form body and the wisdom body). From the moment one aims for the state beyond samsara one enters the path of accumulation. For Mahayana practitioners, the Bodhicitta motivation has to be developed to enter the path: We should generate the mind to attain enlightenment for the sake of others. Although, achieving the 2 accumulations of merit and wisdom could take a long time because it depends on the strength of our practice, our capabilities, and on the methods used to complete them.

From the Mahayana point of view, the path of accumulation has 3 levels:

  •  1st level: There are the 4 close placements of mindfulness on mind, body, feeling, and phenomena.
  • 2nd level: One practices the perfect abandonment by generating virtues that don’t yet exist, increasing virtues that already exist, abandoning non-virtues that already exist, and not letting non- virtues that don’t exist arise.
  • 3rd level: One practices the development of the 4 qualities without which further progress on the path will not be possible:
  • Aspiration to practice Dharma.
  • Diligence (enthusiastic effort).
  • Recollection (not forgetting the practice),
  • Meditative concentration (one-pointedness of mind without distractions).

The path of preparation: We enter this path when we generate the desire to achieve liberation from samsara.

  • There are 4 levels:
  • Heat.
  • Peak.
  • Patience.
  • Supreme qualities (or ultimate Dharma).
  • Heat and peak: One practices the 5 powers:  faith, effort, mindfulness, meditative concentration, and wisdom.
  • Patience: One cultivates the 5 strengths: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. When we reach the stage of patience we achieve a state of never re-entering the lower realms.
  • Supreme qualities (ultimate Dharma): We enter the path of seeing.

The path of seeing: The 1st moment of the path of seeing is when one directly perceives the emptiness of self and phenomena. One is no longer an ordinary being but becomes an Arya, a Noble being.  Their main practices are the 7 limbs: pure mindfulness, discrimination, enthusiastic perseverance, joy, pliancy, single-minded concentration, and equanimity. There are 10 bhumis or grounds, and when one attains the extreme joyful’ bhumi, of realising emptiness, they have entered the 1st Bodhisattva ground. Where the subtle delusions are eliminated and one proceeds on the path of meditation.

The path of meditation: This path corresponds to the 2nd out of the 10 Bodhisattva grounds. After having gained the direct realization of emptiness, the Bodhisattva meditates on it to familiarise his/her mind with it and make it stronger.

 The 10 bhumis or Bodhisattva grounds:

  • Very Joyous: in which one rejoices at realizing a partial aspect of the truth.
  • The Stainless: in which one is free from all defilement.
  • Light-Maker: in which one radiates the light of wisdom.
  • The Radiant Intellect: in which the radiant flame of wisdom burns away earthly desires.
  • The Difficult to Master: in which one surmounts the illusions of darkness or ignorance as the middle way.
  • The Manifest: in which supreme wisdom begins to manifest.
  • The Gone Afar: in which one rises above the states of the two vehicles.
  • The Immovable: in which one dwells firmly in the truth of the middle way and cannot be perturbed by anything.
  • The Good Intelligence: in which one preaches the Law freely and without restriction.
  • The Cloud of Doctrine: in which one benefits all sentient beings with the Law of dharma, just as a cloud sends down rain impartially on all things.

From the 1st to the 8th ground all the obstacles to delusion are removed. From this point, no one can create any more contaminated karma. On the 8th, 9th and 10th grounds, the obstacles to omniscience are removed.

The path of no more learning: According to the Mahayana school from the 4 close contemplations up to the Arya level, there are 37 paths to enlightenment, ordinary beings will only travel the first two.  Once you have reached the 10th bhumi (all-encompassing ground), you have reached Buddhahood and the state of omniscience: All obscurations have been abandoned and you achieve the 2 bodies of Buddha and the completion of the 2 accumulations of merit and wisdom. The wisdom body or Dharmakaya refers to the state of emptiness, to the wisdom side of the practice. The form body (Rupakaya) is the method side of the path achieved through love and compassion.


The manifestation body or Nirmanakaya is an emanation of the Sambogakaya. An example of this is Buddha Sakyamuni.

The enjoyment body or the Sambogakaya, can be seen by a certain level of Bodhisattvas and not by ordinary beings.

The truth of the path is made of these 5 paths, and you move from the 1st to the 5th through the practice of the 6 perfections – Generosity, Morality, Patience, Vigor/diligence, Concentration, and Wisdom.  As you perfect these perfections you move along the five paths. (I will touch on this in another article soon.)

In the 3rd turning of the wheel, the Buddha explained the path but it is condensed in the 4 Noble Truths, which are the foundations of the practice of Dharma. The Buddha has no power to take us by the hand, we can only be liberated from the suffering of cyclic existence if we engage on the path.

I show you the path, liberation depends on you.

 To stop rebirth in the lower realms, it is necessary to practice virtue and abandon non-virtuous actions. Although this is a lower level of motivation, it is still good. But If you are truly fed up with samsara, have courage, and realise that the higher realms are not the ultimate goal to reach, you will make aspirations to free yourself from samsara.  Beings with great courage will soon reach the path of accumulation and generate the Bodhicitta mind. They will understand that all beings have once been our parents, and to repay their kindness, they will wish to develop love and compassion for all sentient beings.   

  • Because all beings like us, want happiness we develop love.
  • Because all beings want to be free from suffering, we develop compassion.
  • Because all being experience both happiness and suffering, we develop equanimity, without making any differentiation between close people and others.

But meditating on love and compassion is not enough, we need to become a Buddha in order to come back in samsara and be able to help all sentient beings. This is the Bodhisattva path.

In brief, the Buddha-Dharma path is a path of non-violence: anything that hurts others or doesn’t help them is not following the Buddhist practice.

Everything is this, there is nothing that is not this.

Thank you for reading my concise understanding of the Fourth Noble Truths. I hope you got something out of it and you find it a useful life navigating tool. Back soon with the six perfections.

What is:The Four Noble Truths (3 of 4)

The Third Noble Truth: The cessation of suffering.

Suffering ends when craving ends.

  In our human daily life, it’s difficult for us to have a sense of renunciation for the small happiness and pleasures it brings, like Friday nights, birthdays, holidays, and parties. But this fleeting contaminated happiness arises from contaminated virtues, and it is still part of samsara and will keep us trapped in cyclic existence. So it’s helpful if we look at this human life as being part of the six realms because, at the time of death, all the experiences of suffering and happiness we have had will be like a dream, a memory.  It is only our karma that is in our mind streams/ consciousness that we will take with us to our next life. This karma could cause us great difficulties or great freedom, depending on what we have accumulated or cultivated. Therefore we should cherish this precious human birth, which is the result of accumulated karma of perfect morality, and remember that our actions or karma will follow us like a shadow in this life and future lives. Buddha taught the cessation of suffering at its ultimate level, by looking at the causes of suffering and understanding how they work. He realised that we can achieve a stable and lasting cessation of suffering, which brings ultimate happiness/ liberation, which is the state where the suffering is completely removed.

Renunciation is the definitive emergence out of samsara.

Buddhist cosmology typically identifies six realms of rebirth and existence: gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hells. (refer to the 1st noble truth)

There are specific causes that will lead you into a rebirth in one of the lower realms or one of the higher realms. The latter is the result of having abandoned the 10 negative actions:

  • Body –     Killing, Stealing, Sexual Misconduct.
  • Speech – Lying, Divisive Speech, Harsh Speech, Pointless Gossip.
  • Mind –    Greed/Covetousness, Harmful Intent, Wrong View (denial of cause and effect).

 It is very difficult to practice this perfect morality, which is the cause to be reborn as a human or a god. But by contemplating on the suffering of the lower realms and the danger of falling into them, we can develop revulsion toward samsara. We need to realise that suffering comes from our delusions and the karma produced by these delusions is what leads us to non-virtuous actions of body, speech, and mind. Which are the cause of rebirth in one of the lower realms and thus the origin of suffering. In order to achieve liberation from suffering, we have to accumulate uncontaminated karma and for that we need a mind which is dissatisfied with samsara, seeking freedom from samsara and full Buddhahood. So it is better to spend this human life completing the accumulations of merit (good deeds) and objectless wisdom, the wisdom of emptiness, which realises the selflessness of persons and phenomena.

The reason true cessation or Nirvana/ Liberation/ Buddhahood, is possible is that every sentient being has Buddha-nature. This is the essence of clear light, which is inherent to the mind. Karma and delusions come and go, they are obscurations like stains on a cloth or clouds in the sky. The stains are adventitious and as such can be abandoned.

As an example, clear water and murky water have the same nature – that of water. If the water is calm the mud will settle and can be separated from it. Our clear light mind (clear water) obscured by karma and delusions (mud) has “degenerated.” But because these obscurations are different entities (not of the same nature) than the mind, they can be separated from it. It is the negative emotions that are stirring up the mud that produces the murky water.

There are coarse, subtle, and very subtle delusions that are always subject to change, and come from grasping at self. By decreasing the grasping at the self, one decreases the delusions of ignorance, desire, and hatred, which lead us to negative actions that produce negative karma and further suffering. To be able to realise the selflessness of the root delusion (grasping at self), you need to meditate on the wisdom of realising selflessness. This is like in a dream, when by the practice of dream yoga a fearful dream loses its strength as soon as you recognise the reality of the situation (that I am dreaming). By decreasing the grasping, one decreases the delusions, and the negative actions, and then karma and suffering will decrease as well.

The highest level of realization is one of the Bodhisattva, who although abiding in samsara, have realised selflessness and thus remain free from delusions. To sum it all up, there is selflessness (or emptiness) of phenomena and selflessness of the self. Their nature is not truly established, like the nature of a dream is not truly established. Although the dream appears, its existence is not truly established, it does not truly exist.

When one directly experiences emptiness of self and phenomena, one reaches full enlightenment of Buddhahood.

For ordinary beings the cessation of suffering arises when they achieve meditative stabilisation, resulting in rebirth in the formless realm (the peak of cyclic existence). This is the top of samsara where delusions are being purified.


  •  Never returnees Have cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind, and are reborn in one of the five special worlds or “Pure Abodes” where they attain Nirvana.
  • Once returnees – Have cut off the first three chains with which the ordinary mind is bound, and significantly weakened the fourth and fifth.  They will at most return to the realm of the senses. The lowest being human and the highest being the devas, wielding power over the creations of others, one more time.
  • Returnees – Have “opened the eye of the Dharma” and are guaranteed enlightenment after no more than seven successive rebirths, possibly fewer.  They can also be sure not to be reborn in any of the lower realms (animal, preta, or hell), only in the upper realm ( human god, demi-god), and have good moral behavior.

All of them will attain the stage of foe destroyers (Araths). The cause of delusion has stopped so this stops them from being reborn in samsara, but they still have obstructions to omniscience i.e. to full Buddhahood.


  • View of a personal identity.
  • Deluded doubt.
  • Attachment to rites and rituals.
  • Attachment to sensuality.
  • Ill will.

The liberation of the Hinayanists practitioners is a meditative absorption, a state of mind meditating on emptiness in which they can remain for many eons. Then through the blessings of the Buddha, they wake up and are led to the greater vehicle where they achieve Buddhahood. This full enlightened state is achieved by realising the selflessness (emptiness) of self and phenomena when obscurations of delusions and obscurations to omniscience have been removed.

The difference between the two liberations of the Hinayana and the Mahayana schools comes down to the different views of the practitioner. The Hinayana finale state focus is only on the selflessness of self without the love and compassion generated by Mahayana, bodhicitta mind of awakening. Which refers to the state of mind of a bodhisattva, who pursues Buddhahood in order to benefit others. When the Hinayana practitioners achieve the state of nirvana they will not be reborn in samsara because their five aggregates have been destroyed. They are called ‘Arhats’ and will abide in nirvana. But from the Mahayana point of view, this is not the ultimate liberation. The greater vehicle practitioners generate the Bodhicitta motivation and focus on both the selflessness of persons and phenomena. This doesn’t mean that the Hinayana don’t have love and compassion for beings, they rest in the meditative absorption while Mahayanists go back to samsara out of their desire to help others. Their returning to samsara doesn’t mean they return to a state of suffering like ours. They are free from experiencing suffering but through their love, compassion and motivation these Buddhas emanate back into samsara in any form to benefit beings. One Buddha can manifest in hundreds and thousands of emanations to benefit beings. They have achieved the state of ultimate liberation that is beyond the 2 extremes – that of samsara by their wisdom and that of nirvana by their compassion. Because they have realised the selflessness of self and phenomena, they are free from the obscurations that keep beings in samsara. And because of their great compassion and aspiration to help all sentient beings, they can’t stay in the peace of nirvana, where there is no way to help others.


  • Cessation: Having found antidotes to the wrong views, it is possible to abandon obscurations.   
  • Peace: One can abandon all contaminated delusions and achieve peace.
  • Complete satisfaction: The antidote to the belief that it is not possible to stop the all-pervasive suffering. It is possible to achieve ultimate happiness and never fall back into suffering. 
  • Renunciation: The definitive emergence out of samsara.

To come back to the analogy between our suffering and a disease. Knowing that the disease can be stopped is the truth of cessation.

  • Looking for the cure is the truth of the path.
  • Understanding the true nature of one’s own mind.
  • Understanding the true nature of phenomena.
  • The most important is to know your own mind.

“Suffering comes from karma dependent on the mind” Chandrakirti

To abandon karma one needs to realise the grasping at self by understanding the nature of the mind. The wisdom of realising selflessness is the wisdom of realising the nature of the mind. By meditating on this wisdom we achieve true cessation.

Thank you for reading my concise understanding of the Third Noble Truth. I’ll be back soon, with the fourth and final Noble Truth The path to the cessation of suffering.

What is:The Four NobleTruths (2 of 4).

The Second Noble Truth: The causes of suffering.        

To be free from suffering we have to abandon its causes.

There are two ways of looking at the true origin of suffering: One is that our karma brings us suffering. and the other is we act under the influence of our delusions and the result of these actions is an accumulation of karma that brings us suffering.

Because suffering is the effect of our karma we can’t stop it directly, but we can purify it. This is a monumental task, but Buddhists believe it can be attained through meditation and dedication to awakening. The aim is to purify your mind stream so that all moral and character defilements and defects (kleśas such as anger, ignorance, and lust) are wiped away and nirvana can be obtained. Imagine if we wanted to remove a tree, it’s not enough to cut its branches, we need to cut its roots. In Uttaratantra there is an analogy between suffering and disease: knowing the cause of suffering is like recognising what kind of disease we have (wind, bile, and phlegm) and taking the correct medicine. The disease of samsara is the poison of ignorance which brings about the additional poisons of desire and hatred. The medicine is understanding how things truly exist, and their actual nature.

 Nagarjuna, who was credited with founding the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, said:

“That in the first place one sees himself as having a true existence (due to ignorance). Second due to attachment to this view, the ‘I’ arises. Third the distinction between ‘I’ and other occurs. Finally, the aversion and attachment towards others follow.

This is like the dream perceptions taken as reality, where the experienced ‘I’, our attachment, aversions, etc. seem truly existent while dreaming. Because of this mistaken view created by our mind in the dream, we experience difficulties and suffering. This is exactly the same in this life, from our ignorance springs attachment and aversions. These three poisons are the origins of all delusions which in turn become the causes for negative karma.

The Three Poisons are personified as a rooster or fowl (greed), a pig or boar (ignorance), and a snake (hatred,) chasing one another around and around. They symbolize the forces that keep people caught up in the samsaric round of existence. These delusions are the causes of all the negative actions we engage in classified in 10 non-virtues that will create negative karma.


  • Body – Killing, Stealing, Sexual Misconduct.
  • Speech – Lying, Divisive Speech, Harsh Speech, Pointless Gossip.
  • Mind – Greed/Covetousness, Harmful Intent, Wrong View (denial of cause and effect).

These 10 non-virtues are the main cause for taking rebirth in a lower realm, where the suffering of suffering is the strongest. There is also positive karma arising by accumulating virtues that lead to rebirth in a higher realm where pleasure can be experienced. But this is still contaminated karma, uncontaminated karma comes from the wisdom realising emptiness.

One can accumulate positive karma even with a low external motivation, such as praying for a higher rebirth or a healthy and wealthy life. But this is short-term. You need to be fully dissatisfied with samsara and want to try and achieve liberation through mental stabilization. This will accumulate unfluctuating, or unwavering karma that will produce rebirth in the 3rd or 4th level of the formless realm. Focusing on equanimity also achieves unfluctuating karma which produces rebirth in the 4th level of the formless realm (peak of existence). These remain all contaminated karmas belonging to the worldly path and will result in rebirth in samsara.

Any actions based on the three poisons will eventually lead to suffering while any action not created under the influence of these poisons leads to ultimate happiness. This uncontaminated karma releases us from samsara (I’ll touch on that in the 4th noble truth.) Because we have obtained our human life, we can achieve happiness by paying attention to the law of karma – cause, and effect, and by taking responsibility for our actions.

Whatever is accumulated will eventually ripen.

 A new body takes birth by the coming together of the subtle consciousness that passes from one life to the next and the father and mother drops (sperm and egg). Although, when we see a dead body we might doubt the actuality of reincarnation since we don’t see the subtle consciousness leaving the body or passing from life to life.

Past and present scientists assume that consciousness originates from the brain and so didn’t accept past and future lives. Because after the moment of clinical death the sense consciousness, the subtle consciousness and body parts stop. But the subtlest consciousness that can’t be seen by scientists or ordinary beings, leaves the body and goes through the intermediate state between death and birth. This state is called the bardo of reality (when the clear light nature of the mind appears.) and only the beings in the bardo can perceive it because their consciousness is also very subtle.

Mind and body are different entities that don’t have the same basis. The body is matter, made of flesh, bone, and so on, with the sensory object that comes out of the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and space). Mind or consciousness does not. A moment of consciousness is the result of the previous moment of consciousness, and past and future lives have the same reasoning. The form aggregate has its origin of the form aggregate of the father and mother, but the consciousness comes from the previous consciousness moment in the bardo, that comes from a previous moment of consciousness in the past life. The last moment of consciousness of your life is the cause of the first moment of consciousness in your next life. The law of cause and effect is applicable for the consciousness passing from life to life. At death, the consciousness leaves the body, but we can not see it, we only see the dead body, and not what is going on in the dead person’s consciousness. But what we can’t see is not necessarily non-existent. This is like when we see somebody ‘peacefully’ asleep: despite this peaceful appearance he might be experiencing a frightful dream. By analogy, even if we don’t remember our previous lives, we can still believe in reincarnation by using this analysis.

The truth of suffering comes from contaminated karma. There is personal karma, giving rise to personal situations, and common (collective) karma giving rise to things everybody agrees with such as the world around us. All that appears are the consequences of previous actions and the causes for future ones, possibly of more suffering.


  • Prarabdha karma is experienced through the present body, in which it has also been accumulated.
  • Sanchita karma is the sum of one’s past karmas – all actions, good and bad, from one’s past lives, follow through to the next life.
  • Agami karma is the result of current decisions and actions, that are experienced in a later life (time not defined).

Karma ripens depending on the power accumulated when intending the action: (listed according to decreasing strength).

  • One had the idea, the intention, and acts,       
  • One has the intention but doesn’t act       
  • One doesn’t have the intention but does act.


  • Fully ripen result: rebirth in a lower or upper realm.       
  • Result similar to the action:  for example, a thief will have the tendency to steal in his next life and a Tulku (reincarnation of a highly realised teacher) will have an innate tendency to meditate.
  • Experience similar to the action: if one kills, one will be killed in his next life.    
  • Controlled result: the effect ripens on the next life’s environment. For example, if someone kills he will be reborn in an environment endangering his/her life              


 It is stored as imprints in the mental continuum of our consciousness (in our awareness) and needs the right conditions to ripen. For example, somebody’s anger could result in experiencing a bad dream. Here, the condition is the dream and the ripened effect is a bad feeling experienced.    


  • Suffering has no cause. 
  • All suffering comes from the same single cause.   
  • Even if they accept that suffering has a cause, they don’t believe that cause is karma but that it is imposed by some god.     
  • Others think there is permanent suffering but it isn’t experienced during our present life.

To counter these views, the Buddha taught 16 antidotes.


  • Suffering has causes: delusions and karma.
  • Different types of suffering are generated by different types of causes (cause and effect should correspond, like seed and crop).
  • Strong production. For example among the 12 links, the first three (ignorance, craving, and grasping) create the strong production of suffering. This counters the view of an external god imposing suffering.
  • Condition. If something is permanent, unchangeable, it cannot depend on specific conditions. We can see that the conditions are needed for suffering to appear, thus the suffering can’t be of a permanent origin

These are the true origins, the cause of suffering which have to be abandoned in order to be free from suffering.   

Thank you for reading my concise understanding of the Second Noble Truth. I’ll be back with The Third Noble Truth -The cessation of suffering soon.