In short, they represent the Buddha’s basic teaching that liberates people from suffering. These four truths can be outlined as follows:
Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we don’t experience permanent satisfaction in anything but may feel an undercurrent of internal anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of existence.
The cause of suffering is craving which stems from ignorance. We suffer because we tend to blame our problems on things outside ourselves. We resist the fact that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated once the world does not act the way we believe it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping others.
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 timeless souls, we could end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it is not the suffering that stops, but the urge.
4. There’s A Path Out Of Suffering
By adopting the path of right living, we can wake up to our Higher nature. This path involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal 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 suffering and pain, which only perpetuates our struggle.
Instead, I suggest we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for right living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more efficiently. By introducing the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.
Practical Application with AREA
I suggest using the acronym AREA to remember the arrangement 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 proper ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and finally expand the area or scope of our True nature.
Accept Life As Is
once we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; insteadwe recognize it for simply being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.
The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, making them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of every moment.
Individual neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to always maintain a state of inner equilibrium without religious awareness. Our perceptions are continuously providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in another way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to react to; not interference to respond to, judge, resist or prevent.
When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with drugs or to grasp for some miracle cure out of ourselves. Rather, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell us; and once we know the deeper message, we’ll be able to respond appropriately so the messenger could be published. This process of responding rather than reacting allows us to create more internal space for growth in consciousness.
it is vital to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties having an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and concede 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.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, beliefs and reactions. It nurtures the growth of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It’s in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.
The more we fine-tune our responses to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more inner freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Developing a path of appropriate action nourishes us all levels 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 much more inner peace, harmony and joy.