When we first became interested in Buddhism one problem we experienced was the concept that Buddhism solves a problem of it’s own making. This article explores the idea that the Buddha solved a problem only experienced by Buddhists.
The Four Noble Truths describe a problem and a solution to that problem. Noble Truths #1 Suffering and #2 Causes of Suffering describe the problem, and Noble Truths #3 Cessation of Suffering and #4 the Path describe the solution. But what if we ignore suffering, will the problem simply away and we can all get along with our lives? Maybe we could all just go to the bar and drink ourselves happy!!
Unfortunately that is not the case. The Noble Truth #1 Suffering includes the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death. We can certainly choose to ignore birth, old age, sickness, and death, but that will not stop them from happening. We will become old, get sick, and die. We can either choose to be equipped to deal with them or face them unprepared.
In ‘The Four Noble Truths’, Geshe Tashi Tsering pg. 118 quotes from Chandrakirti:
Whether the Buddha comes in this world or not, emptiness already exists.
This statement refers to the Wisdom aspect of #4 the Path that leads to the Truth Body / Dharmakaya of an Enlightened being. In other words, the solution was already available to us even before we became little Buddhists.
This statement applies equally to the solution (#3 Cessation of Suffering and #4 the Path) as it does to the problem (#1 Suffering and #2 Causes of Suffering). In other words, the problem was there all along. Maybe we were unable to quite put it into words but the suffering was there all along. Behind the daily grind of work, behind the news headlines, behind the endless thirst for more, behind the anticlimax of getting what we want. There the suffering was all along.
In this article, we have ascertained that the Buddha has accurately described the problem that we face as well as the solution to that problem. Having completed this reality check, we feel motivated to practice the Buddha’s teachings, to overcome our daily problems, and to reach happiness.