In short, they represent the Buddha’s fundamental teaching that liberates people from suffering. These four truths could be summarized as follows:
1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle
Even if things seem peaceful externally, we don’t experience permanent satisfaction in anything but might feel an undercurrent of internal 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 tend to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the fact that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated once the world doesn’t act the way we believe it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping for others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different from what it is and causes discomfort.
3. Suffering Stops When Craving Ends
Since we are ultimately those that cause our own suffering from perpetuating the cycle of craving and immunity, we also have the ability to end our suffering. Even if life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we respond to it. By awakening to the true nature of our classic souls, we could end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it’s not the suffering that stops, but the craving.
4. There Is A Path Out Of 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 private practice that supports our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately leads to enlightenment.
Our human tendency is to avoid all pain and suffering, which only perpetuates our struggle.
Instead, I suggest we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for proper living; tips to help us navigate life’s challenges more effectively. By presenting the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.
Practical Application with AREA
I propose using the acronym AREA to recall the structure of the Four Noble Truths in practical ways: Accept Life As Is, Release Reactivity, End Grasping, and Act Appropriately.
When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in appropriate ways, they will indeed expand our internal area of spaciousness and peace, and ultimately expand the area or scope of our Authentic nature.
We no longer interpret everything that doesn’t go our way as a personalized attack on the ego selves; rather , we recognize it for being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for growth and learning; not as something unjust to be judged or averted.
The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, making them appear as good or bad; in fact, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life may foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of every moment.
Individual neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without religious awareness. Our senses are always providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in another way: learning how to react instead of to respond. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to react to; not interference to react to, judge, resist or avoid.
When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to resist the symptoms with drugs or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell usand once we understand the deeper message, we will be able to respond appropriately so the messenger could be released. This process of responding rather than reacting allows us to create more inner space for growth in consciousness.
it is vital to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties with an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviours of judgment, fear or craving. This inner attitude of non-attachment frees us from the endless cycles of attachment and aversion to provide us genuine freedom and inner peace instead. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you fight, and surrender that to which you cling.”
Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are actually nothing other than learned behaviors and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them opens up space for us to thrive.
In shamanic traditions, proper action is referred to as”right living.” Proper action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, reactions and beliefs. It nurtures the development of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this greater aspect of being, that we are changed to live from our full potential.
The further we fine-tune our responses to life suitably reflect our Higher nature, the more internal freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Developing a path of proper action nourishes us at all degrees and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.
Using AREA can act as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The end result is more inner peace, harmony and joy.