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A Buddhist's Path to Enlightenment

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"Buddha" means "one who is awake and enlightened." When an individual has reached a level enlightenment in Buddhism, it is called Nirvana, or liberation. To attain Nirvana, one must understand and follow the truths of existence and the teachings of the path to spiritual liberation. The Buddha called these truths of existence the Four Noble Truths, while the last truth, the Noble Eightfold Path to liberation, is what leads one to stop suffering and achieve enlightenment.

The Four Noble Truths are the Nature of Suffering, Dukkha; the Origin of Suffering, Samudaya; the Cessation of Suffering, Nirodha; and the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path. The first of the Four Noble Truths, Dukkha, the Nature of Suffering, deals with suffering and frustration and why we are suffering. The fact that we all have unfulfilled dreams and aspirations, an understanding that we all have lost someone we love; pain, illness, grief, and aging are all forms of suffering that we experience.

The second of the Four Noble Truths, Samudaya, Suffering's Origin, deals with desire. Human desire is materialistic, which is why we crave sensory pleasures; to be famous, powerful, or wealthy. There can also be a desire to keep things the way they are or to experience a positive change; described as an attachment to things and ideas. The Buddha taught that desire leads to suffering; because things are always changing and we do not understand their true impermanent nature. Also, because unhappiness always accompanies happiness, Buddhism teaches that trying to set up one's life in a way where we always get, see, and hear what we want is a futile activity when trying to keep unhappiness, despair, and frustration away.

The third truth of the Four Noble Truths is Nirodha, Suffering's Cessation. Within this truth, one sees that, through suffering, things are seen as they really are and when our desires cease, our suffering will cease. Nothing in this world is permanent and independent, because moment by moment, everything changes and things pass away. Through this realization, one understands that our existence here is continually changing with different circumstances and settings; and because of that understanding, there becomes less attachment to one's body, mind, and less selfish cravings.

The fourth truth of the Four Noble Truths is called the Noble Eightfold Path. Desire and suffering can be exterminated by following the Noble Eightfold Path, a path of morality, concentration, and wisdom. The Noble Eightfold Path is a way to stay on a virtuous course through life and a way to create merit for a favorable rebirth and/or a way to obtain the tranquility of Nirvana. The eight parts of the Noble Eightfold Path are characteristics that build upon and interweave each of the other characteristics and truths from the Four Noble Truths to make a synergistic effect, the sum is greater than its parts type effect is seen when one understands that the Noble Eightfold Path is an extension of and tool for realizing the Four Noble Truths.

The Right Understanding is the first aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. This first aspect makes one look back to understand reality correctly through deep realization of the Four Noble Truths. If the mind is well trained and pure, one's actions will be meritorious and happiness will naturally follow, however if the mind is untrained or defiled, then suffering and frustration will follow.

Right thoughts or motives are the second of the Noble Eightfold Path. At this stage, one must look into oneself to find any unwholesome emotional roots behind our actions; this is one's will to change. With the right thought or motive, one should always be looking inside themselves for qualities they know are wrong or immoral. The more we look for, find, and bring to surface such unwholesome motives, the more our thoughts become free from self-centered limitations. Having achieved the right



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