Benefits of Studying the Four Noble Truths

Studying and Reflecting 

The minimum benefit is seeing that the problems and difficulties in our life can be stopped – there is a remedy to the conditioning of our lives. This remedy is through the truth of the Noble Eightfold Path.   


The medium benefit is that by studying the Four Noble Truths, we are establishing the Three Refuges. Through confidence in the Noble Eightfold Path, we come to appreciate the second of the Three Refuges – the Dharma. Through seeing beings who are practising the Dharma, we are seeing the first and third Refuges – the Buddha and the Sangha. Those who have completed the Path are the Buddhas; those who are still practising the Path are the Sangha. We take refuge in the Dharma by putting the Path into practice – and ultimately, we will become a refuge by becoming a Buddha.


The highest benefit is seeing cause and effect and the real nature of suffering ourselves and how we have fallen into that kind of situation. And, we then see how all other beings have done exactly the same. Finally, we then see that if we put the last Noble Truth into practice, we will be capable of benefiting not only ourselves but also other sentient beings, regardless of our present connection with others, without any discrimination or self-interest. That kind of activity can be achieved through understanding and practising the Four Noble Truths at a very deep and thorough level.


By practising the path, without falling into the two extremes of nihilism or eternalism – nihilism, where we feel that nothing has any reality and therefore we are powerless to do anything, and eternalism, where we feel things are solid and unalterable – then we can be really effective in helping others.


Between these two extremes our understanding will become more and more subtle, and our understanding of cause and effect will become deeper and deeper.


The cessation of our suffering is not given to us by someone as a gift but must emerge through practising the True Path. By reaching that kind of understanding, the gap will get smaller and smaller between the uncontrolled, conditioned life we now lead and the core which is pure and perfect peace. Even though it may be difficult to reach that centre, we will get closer and closer through our practice.


Through studying, developing an understanding, and then actually

practising the teaching of the Four Noble Truths in our daily life, the highest benefit can also be so beneficial for all other sentient beings. We can not only cease our own suffering and the causes of suffering but can also cease the suffering and the causes of suffering of other beings

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Source: Adapted from Geshe Tashi Tsering, The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Vol. 1, with a foreword by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, ed. Gordon McDougall (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005), 15-17.

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