Buddhas Third Noble Truth – The Truth of the Cessation or End of Suffering
Now that we’ve identified the problem (First Noble Truth) and found the root cause of the problem (Second Noble Truth), we can move on to the Third Noble Truth of the cessation (nirodha) of dukkha (suffering, craving; pronounced doo-ka) which can be seen as the prognosis.
Gautama Buddha realized under the Bodhi tree that everything that arises has a cause, no exceptions. Not only this, but anything subject to arising is also subject to cessation (an end) which also includes dukkha (suffering, craving).
Keep in mind that the word Nirodha (cessation) does not refer to the cessation of one’s self, but rather to the cessation of craving which binds us to Samsara.
But that doesn’t mean we disappear or that the world disappears. But even so, we can say that the “world of ignorance” (our misperception of the world) falls away and ceases when we experience cessation.
With Nirvana comes cessation of dukkha (suffering, craving) though when cessation does occur, we may experience a temporary state of Nirvana when the causes of suffering have left our minds. And while we walk the path to Nirvana we experience more and more bliss, which is an encouraging thought.
Here is a good description of what cessation is like according to the sutra Majjhima Kaya 149.9:
“One’s bodily and mental troubles are abandoned, one’s bodily and mental torments are abandoned, one’s bodily and mental fevers are abandoned, and one experiences bodily and mental pleasure.”
Nirvana itself is impossible to put into words and is rather like trying to explain what seeing is like to a blind man. This is something that can only be experienced, but even though it may seem unattainable to our deluded minds, the Buddha taught that we can “achieve” Nirvana in this life.
Buddhas Third Noble Truth is a beautiful and elegant teaching which teaches us that not only can suffering be overcome, but it is possible to live in a state of true happiness and contentment in this life.
The fact remains that we will never fully be able to escape pain since it is present in our day to day cyclic existence, though we can change our perspective about it. And we, no longer cling to outside things or to our own delusions and experience the universe as Bliss (or joy).
Ignorance is thinking that one already has the answers and that one has attained Nirvana, but this is foolish since they are simply getting rid of one delusion only to replace it with another.
So do we observe and care for our suffering and so overcome it, or do we fight against our suffering and make it worse and worse?
If we accept dukkha (suffering, craving) as the nature of the dualistic reality that we live in and see ourselves in everyone else, then we experience the joy of the Oneness and interdependence of everything.
“This noble truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized: thus bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.”
I think His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama summed it up perfectly when he said the following about Buddhas Third Noble Truth:
May we attain perfect Buddhahood for the sake of all beings!
I’d just like to point out before I reach the end of this article to remind everyone that I have not experienced cessation nor have I experienced Nirvana, but I can try to imagine it. The important thing is to not get attached to these ideas because once attained it will most likely be completely different than you expect in your mind.
Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions by commenting below, and be sure to check out my recommendations for further reading as well.
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