About Four Noble Truths

It explains in the Madhyamokavatara (Entering the Middle Way), by the great Indian pandit Chan-drakirti,that first there's attachment to the self, and then grasping at things and becoming attached to them as "mine." At first there is a very solid, independent I that is very big--bigger than anything else; this is the basis. From this gradually comes "this is mine, this is mine, this is mine." Then "we, we, we." Then, because of our taking this side, come "others, our enemies." Towards I or mine arises attachment; towards him, her and them we feel distant, and anger, jealousy and all those competitive feelings arise. Thus ultimately, the problem is this feeling of "I"--not the mere I, but the I with which we become obsessed. This gives rise to anger and irritation, along with harsh words and all the physical expressions of aversion and hatred. All these actions (of mind, speech and body) accumulate bad karma. Killing, cheating and all similar negative actions also result from such bad motivation. So, you see: the first stage is solely mental, the disturbing negative minds; in the second stage these negative minds express themselves in actions, karma. Immediately, the atmosphere is disturbed. With anger, for example, the atmosphere becomes tense, people feel uneasy. If someone gets furious, gentle people try to avoid him. Thus he, too, gets disturbed. And later, the person who got angry himself feels embarrassed and ashamed for having said all sorts of absurd things, whatever came into his mouth. When you get angry there's no room for logic or reason; you become literally mad. So later, when your mind has become normal again, you feel ashamed. There are no good points about anger and attachment; nothing good results from them. They may be difficult to control, but everybody can realize that there is nothing good about them. This is the second noble truth. Now the question arises whether or not these kinds of negative mind can be eliminated.

3. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering

The root of all disturbing negative minds is our grasping at things as truly existent. Thus we have to investigate whether this grasping mind is correct or whether it is distorted and seeing things incorrectly. We can do this by investigating how the things it perceives actually exist. However, since this mind itself is incapable of seeing whether or not it apprehends objects correctly, we have to rely on another kind of mind. If, upon investigation, we discover many other, valid ways of looking at things and that all these contradict, or negate, the way that the mind that grasps at true existence perceives its objects, we can say that this mind does not see reality.

Thus with the mind that can analyze the ultimate we must try to determine whether the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is correct or not. If it is correct, the analyzing mind should ultimately be able to find the grasped-at things. The great classics of the Chittamatra and, especially, the Madhyamika schools contain many lines of reasoning for carrying out such investigation. Following these, when you investigate to see whether the mind that grasps at things as inherently findable is correct or not, you find that it is not correct, that it is distorted--you cannot actually find the objects at which it grasps. Since this mind is deceived by its object it has to be eliminated.

Thus, through investigation we find no valid support for the grasping mind but the support of logical reasoning for the mind that realizes that the grasping mind is invalid. In battle, the mind supported by logic will always be victorious over the mind that is not. The understanding that there is no such thing as truly findable existence constitutes the deep clear nature of mind; the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is superficial and fleeting.

When we eliminate the disturbing negative minds, the cause of all suffering, we eliminate the sufferings as well. This is liberation, or the cessation of suffering: the third noble truth. Since it is possible to achieve this we must now look at the method. This brings us to the fourth noble truth.