The BUDDHA’s Path to Moksha (Liberation )evolved out of his intense spiritual restlessness .His initial effort was to seek out a path that would lead him into freedom from the human cycle of suffering .
As a young and influential prince, when he led a sheltered life of leisure, taking whatever pleasure he desired, he was unaware of the ordinary world of men. Bout four incidents that brought him disturbing news about human existence kindled his curiosity and deepened his restlessness. Firstly, it was an old man, decrepit and bent, supporting himself with difficulty on a walking stick. Next, he was disturbed to see an individual afflicted with illness. This was followed by the sight of a dead person. The fourth incident was an ascetic, clad in austere robes walking along with a calm and collected demeanour.
The first three incidents spoke to him about the transitory-ness of human life. He then knew that the pleasures he took for granted were not the only facts of file. There were other inescapable areas of human existence with which man did not seem adequate to cope. The fourth incident of the wandering ascetic gave him hope of a search to discover a way out of the eternal cycle of human sufferings.
In sum, the Buddha’s world is a spiritual report that sets down the way. He discovered the spiritual path out of this human morass. Though it was a personal discovery, the Path is open to all human beings without any exception because it was as a human being that he carved out his unique Path.
Here we can use a medical analogy – a doctor prescribing a line of therapy for a patient, must firstly, diagnose the illness correctly. The Buddha, as supreme physician to the spiritual ailment of man made an unerring diagnosis of what ailed humanity. It was only then he proceeded to prescribe the remedy.
The four noble truths the Buddha declared form the diagnosis of the human condition. These Noble Troths apply to the human situation irrespective of time and place because they are eternally valid.
The unique characteristic of Buddhism is to be found in this doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. The importance of these Four Noble Truths stressed by the Buddha is seen by his repeated references to them. The Four Noble Truths are;
Dukkha – suffering
Samudaya – the origin of suffering
Dukkha Nirodha – the cessation of suffering
Dukkha Nirodha Marga – the Path that has to be followed towards the cessation of suffering.
THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH – DUKKHA
Scholars have differed in their interpretation of the word suffering. The expression Dukkha is identified by some as being synonymous with pain. But what the Buddha had in mind was not exactly a gloomy view of life. In his objective analysis, the nature of life is lack of total fulfillment. Therefore life is full of incomplete activity. It is this disharmony that the Buddha described as suffering (DUKKA). The Buddha recognized the existence of happiness both in the worldly and spiritual levels.