There Is No Suffering 88

As with the twelve links, I will first explain the four noble truths, and then outline the methods for contemplating them. We must first intellectually understand the reality of these truths, and then contemplate the cause and effect of these truths. Finally, we will be able to recognize the empty nature of the four noble truths.

If you are unaware that you suffer, then you cannot possibly know the cause of suffering, or the path to the cessation of suffering. Therefore, it is imperative to intellectually understand the four noble truths. But that is not enough. Without contemplation of the four noble truths, you cannot transcend them, and leave behind samsara. Finally, you must realize through contemplation the emptiness of the four noble truths. Failing this, you may develop a selfish mind of renunciation, concerned only with your own freedom from suffering. With no attachment to your own deliverance, you can fulfill your vow to help others. This is the Mahayana way.

If you thoroughly understand the twelve links of conditioned arising, you will also understand the four noble truths, for these truths come from the twelve links of conditioned arising. First, you understand that suffering is caused by your previous actions. It may seem strange that the existence of suffering, the first noble truth, should precede the second noble truth, the cause of suffering. The natural order is for cause to come before conesquence. Why is it reversed in the four noble truths? The answer rests in our understanding of the twelve links. Suffering has been with us since time without beginning. It is our immediate and most apparent situation in the world. Therefore, we must first start with suffering, and from there investigate its cause.