The Four Noble Truths: A Guide to Everyday Life presents a rich selection of teachings from Tibetan Buddhist scholar and co-founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Edited by Yeo Puay Huei, the teachings in this title were given over a period of forty-five years and are supplemented by anecdotes and stories from Rinpoche’s life, many of which were taken from journals kept by his monk attendant and secretary of three decades, Ven. Roger Kunsang. This gives readers a wonderfully personal insight into Rinpoche’s life, and in many cases the anecdotes Illustrate how the teachings provided can be applied in day to day situations.
Following a preface by the editor, the book itself opens with an extensive introduction which discusses Working with the Mind. Here, Rinpoche explains how both happiness and suffering come from within, rather than from the external world, and how we therefore need to transform our minds if we are to achieve liberation.
With that important preliminary teaching in place, we then embark on a detailed exploration of the four noble truths. Rinpoche defines these as, ‘Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s psychological method for us to break free from suffering and to attain everlasting happiness.’
The Truth of Suffering is the first topic to be explored, and the chapter details the various ways in which we experience suffering. Rinpoche discusses the six general sufferings, impermanence, death, the three categories of the suffering of samsara, the three realms of samsara and more.
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering comes next, and Rinpoche explains that suffering is caused by delusion and karma. The six root delusions and their antidotes, as well as karma, are then discussed in detail, giving the reader valuable insight into how both delusion and karma cause life in samsara and its continuation in different bodies.
Having carefully detailed what many of us would consider to be the ‘bad news’ about life, Rinpoche then turns his attention to the ‘good news’, The Truth of Cessation, explaining that, ‘removing the delusion of ignorance will remove all other delusions that hinder our liberation and enlightenment.’ We are then presented with teachings on severing the root of suffering, achieving nirvana and achieving full enlightenment, to mention just a few of the main topics covered here.
The Truth of the Path discusses the path which can ‘be relied on to accomplish the end of suffering.’ Rinpoche opens by answering the question: What is Dharma? and then goes on to discuss taking refuge, the importance of having a guru, the three principle aspects of the Mahayana path, renunciation, bodhicitta, wisdom realising emptiness, the two truths, meditation and the six perfections.
Living in Awareness of the Four Noble Truths is the topic of the final chapter, and outlines ways in which we can live the teachings in our daily lives. Here, Rinpoche teaches us how to transform problems into the spiritual path, purify negatives and practice the five powers in life so that we will be able to do so at the time of death.
The breadth and depth of wisdom in this book is immense, and The Four Noble Truths is therefore a title that you will benefit from and treasure for a lifetime.