The Four Noble Truths are the "heart" and well, "soul", of the Dharma. They cover the main issues that we, as humans, encounter, why we encounter it, and how to overcome it. You may remember my post about suffering; this will elaborate a bit more on that.
The Four Noble Truths:
1. Living means experiencing "dukkha". "Dukkha" is the Sanskrit word for many things like discontent, dissatisfaction, suffering, fear - all of these experiences from something tangible, psychological or something that we can't just quite explain - do you ever feel that something is just "off" in your life? This is, simply, human existence. However, sometimes this "something" is obvious - key in physical, emotion, spiritual - like losing a loved one, a possession, job.
In an earlier post, I said that I had one of those "what I am doing with my life?" moments. Well, that's "dukkha". Its the human condition.
2. Our second lovely Noble Truth tells us why we have "dukkha". So, why do we suffer? Noble Truth the Second tells us that sufffering is caused by desire; desire is wanting something we don't have, wishing something were something different, or just being plain old dissatisfied with the way things are. Desire holds the belief that, if things would pick up and be better, we would be happier, life would be sweeter and I would be married to Chris Evans... I mean... what?
3. Onto the third Noble Truth tells us that we can eliminate suffering. Okay, come on, how are we supposed to eliminate suffering? Simple; elimate desire. It's really just simple cause and effect - if we remove the cause, the effect will stop. However, this doesn't mean we give up living (meaning breathing, eating, etc. but also being 'alive' - having relationships, experiencing emotions, appreciating life). It just means that we give up the longing for what we don't have and realize that we do already have everything we already need.
4. When you've finished reading the Third Noble Truth, are you thinking, "How am I supposed to just 'give up' desire?" Well, the way to eliminating desire is through the amazing Eightfold Path. These are eight steps to living the Middle Way, as the Buddha suggested, help guide us on the path to living a way that eases our desires and, therefore, eases our suffering thus, bringing more joy into our life. Supreme Enlightenment is attained through following this Path.
Confused yet? Here's a tip; read it again. It will make more sense when you relate it to a real-life experience - cue "traffic jam" situation.