The Four Noble Truths
Now, let's review the following:
The world as we know it is consciousness. Consciousness has five aspects, which are form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness itself. These five aspects are known as the five aggregates or "five skandhas." The characteristics of the five skandhas are that they are dependent, impermanent, conditioned, ever-changing, ownerless, not-self, and non-self. This is the true nature of the world.
Consciousness arises through the interaction of the senses and objects, under the influence of thought. When consciousness arises, the senses, objects, and consciousness together form what we call a person, a sentient being, or a life. If the arising consciousness is ignorant of the true nature of the world, it may develop tendencies of attachment or aversion based on the experiences of pleasure, suffering, or neutrality. These tendencies give rise to thoughts of greed or aversion. Just as a flame blown by the wind can ignite nearby flammable materials, these thoughts lead to the generation of new senses and objects and, in turn, new consciousness. This is the cycle of rebirth and the cycle of life.
If arising consciousness is characterized by complete right knowledge and right mindfulness, it does not develop tendencies of attachment or aversion. Without corresponding thoughts, no new consciousness arises. This is the state of non-arising of consciousness and life.
If people understand that giving, ethical conduct, and virtuous deeds bring merit, and that doing good or bad deeds leads to corresponding consequences in this life and the next, and that there are cycles of rebirth in good and bad realms, and that there are methods to be reborn in virtuous realms or attain liberation, they will strive to regulate their words, actions, and behaviors. They will constantly urge themselves to do good and avoid evil. They will often find inner peace and fearlessness by remembering the good deeds they have done, just as the ancients said, "One who does not commit wrongful acts in their lifetime has nothing to fear in the middle of the night."
Inner peace leads to inner joy, and because of joy, people willingly listen to the teachings of virtuous dharma, with Buddhism being the most important. Regularly listening to the right teachings will lead to an understanding of the Four Noble Truths. By constantly listening and contemplating these truths, people will aspire to realize them personally. To personally realize the Four Noble Truths, individuals may choose to shave their heads, renounce worldly life, and go to secluded places where they are not disturbed. They guard their senses, focus their minds, and cultivate virtuous actions while eliminating unwholesome ones.
At all times and in all places, they anchor their minds, practice right knowledge and right mindfulness, purify their body, speech, and mind, and fully eliminate the obstacles of desire, aversion, ignorance, drowsiness, restlessness, and doubt. By being free from all obstacles, they experience joy, leading to the attainment of the first jhana, and then the second, third, and fourth jhanas. The mind in the fourth jhana is like a fire without wind, undisturbed, without attachment, aversion, or delusion. They have the direct knowledge of consciousness arising and ceasing, leading to self-realization and liberation.
Therefore, for anyone seeking liberation:
- Understand the truth of consciousness.
- Understand and eliminate the conditions for the arising of consciousness.
- Understand right knowledge and liberation, and realize them.
- Understand and cultivate the Eightfold Path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.