Liberation and the Four Noble Truths

Question From Anonymous In Seattle

What’s the difference between liberation and the Buddha’s teaching on cessation in the Four Noble Truths, and how can this be applied to our daily life?

Answer From Sister Le Nghiem:

The Four Noble Truths:

  1. Suffering — this is to recognize and acknowledge the presence of suffering
  2. The Cause of Suffering – this is to recognize the origination of suffering
  3. The Cessation of Suffering – this is to know that suffering can be ceased
  4. The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering – this is the Noble Eightfold Path

The Four Noble Truths are the practice. We practice coming back to ourselves, to recognize and be in touch with our suffering. Coming back to ourselves means to be aware of our body and our breath; to be aware of how our body and mind are in this moment; to know what is going on in our body and mind. There might be some physical or mental pain that needs to be taken care of. When we are attentive to our body and present for our pain, we are already in the process of caring for our pain. With mindful breathing and mindful attention, we embrace and care for our suffering.

Looking deeply into our suffering we will be able to identify the origination or causes of our suffering. When we know how our suffering comes about—the causes of suffering, then we know what we need to do—what we should do—to put an end to our suffering. This is the practice.

With mindful breathing and mindful attention, we embrace and care for our suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Path—the Path leading to the cessation of suffering—is the Path of practice, beginning with Right View. We know that a lot of suffering comes from our wrong view. We have views about ourselves and about others, and our views sometimes have nothing to do with reality. They’re just simply our views and perceptions, but we make ourselves and others suffer so much.

The Noble Eightfold Path consists of Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort (Diligence), Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. Practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, we are certain that we are not contributing to the creation of suffering in ourselves, our family and society. We are certain that we are on the path to liberation.

So, cessation in the Four Noble Truths is the practice of refraining from doing the things that bring about suffering, whereas liberation is a state of being. When suffering is taken care of, we are free from suffering, we are liberated from suffering.

In our daily life we should practice coming back to ourselves, unifying our mind with our body in the present moment. Mindful breathing helps us to come back to our body and the present moment. As much as possible throughout the day, remember to be aware of your breath and your body. Mindful breathing is an anchor, anchoring our mind in the body and in the present moment. When we are mindful of our body and the present moment, we will be able to see and recognize what is within ourselves and around us. The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are the direction, the path, and the practice to know what to do, how to do it, and how to live our life to be happy and free.

One thought on “Liberation and the Four Noble Truths

  1. Benja Peterson says:

    Lovely and true! Relaxation is the key to lead to mindfulness more frequently. Make daily plans early every morning before sunrise and slowly started early. I love walking meditation to the wood in the morning; it feels like the trees are calling me to visit them. So, here I go do my walking. Thank you so much for the answer.

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