Why The Four Noble Truths Aren’t Really True Or Noble

It is written:

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

The religion of Buddhism is founded on what is known as “The Four Noble Truths.”

They are:

1. All Existence Is Suffering;

2. All Suffering Is The Result Of Desire;

3. The Only Way To Eradicate Suffering Is To Eradicate Desire;

4. The Way To Eradicate Desire Is To Follow The Eight-Fold Path

Buddhists base their entire philosophy upon these “Four Noble Truths.” However, these Four Noble Truths break down in several fundamental ways.

First, it is not true that all existence is suffering. Prior to anything which suffers, there must be something that is originally whole: for suffering can only only exist in that which is first whole. Just as you cannot have evil without first having a standard of goodness by which the evil is judged, so also you cannot have something that suffers unless it is first shown to whole by some standard of measurement by which the suffering is judged. But since suffering can only exist in that which is first whole, then it is not the case that all of existence is suffering; for there must be something whole by which the suffering is identified and judged before suffering sets in.

Second, Buddhism claims that the only way to defeat suffering is to eradicate desire; but in order to eradicate desire, a person must first cultivate the desire to eradicate desire! In order to achieve its’ goals, the Buddhist must form and strengthen the very thing which he says that he is trying to destroy. This is self-contradiction.

Third, it is not the case that all desire leads to suffering; for the desire to end suffering is itself a good desire. If it is the case that all desire leads to suffering, then it is the case that the desire to end suffering itself leads to further suffering. But it is not the case that the desire to end suffering itself necessarily leads to suffering. Therefore, it is not the case that all suffering is the result of desire.

Furthermore, notice the self-defeating aim of Buddhism here. If the Buddhist is correct that all suffering is the result of desire, then the desire to end suffering only leads to more suffering! Therefore, the very solution that Buddhism employs to eradicate suffering can never be successful and will in fact only lead to more suffering.

Fourth, another teaching of Buddhism is that all of life is an illusion. Yet if this is the case, then suffering itself is simply an illusion, as is the desire to erudite it. So if Buddhism is correct and everything in existence is an illusion, then so also is suffering; so why does the Buddhist try to adequately explain and deal with suffering in any meaningful way since his efforts are ultimately an illusion as well? Again, this is self-contradictory.

Finally, the four noble truths fail to adequately deal with the problem of suffering because they do not provide a solution for the sinful deeds of humanity or for the existence and influence of evil spirits.

One former Buddhist monk describes it this way:

“I wasn’t clapping or allowing Tashi Lama to agree or disagree. The entire flow of my argument was unorthodox, but the argument itself was rudimentary. I knew that their patience toward me had already been worn thin because I had presented an open challenge to Tashi Lama, so I continued to push through with brevity. I could feel the audience hanging on my every word, ready to cheer for Tashi Lama when he “put me in my place.” “This world that we exist in is the suffering-laden cycle of life, death, and rebirth without beginning or end. We wander from one life to another with no particular direction or purpose. Our life is characterized by dukkha—the unsatisfactory pain of a pointless life. Our only hope is to escape it all by working hard to obtain enough points to earn karma, which will propel us into nirvana—a state where suffering and existence cease.” At this, I stomped my feet and clapped my hands together. My words were simple enough that every single person listening could follow along. Everything that I stated about Buddhism would have been thoroughly known by even the most uneducated person in the crowd. “Is this what you have called me out here to discuss in front of all these people, Tenzin? Do you need me to teach you the elementary subject of the Four Noble Truths?” Tashi Lama asked. The people laughed. “No, I have called you out here to ask, ‘How do you know that the life-cycle is pointless? What if there is a purpose to suffering?’” The crowd went silent. During a debate, monks are supposed to make statements, not ask questions. “We spend our entire life suffering, and Buddha was supposed to illuminate the path that leads to the elimination of suffering, but who has escaped suffering by following the path? I would argue that we add to it. When we follow the path illuminated by the Buddha, we add to our own dukkha.” The crowd gasped. “The entire merit-based system is exhausting! We are told to do so many things that lead to more suffering, and the additional suffering helps to accumulate merits that will contribute to the karma of the next life. We are commanded to stand, kneel, lay prostrate, spin wheels, chant, meditate, give offerings, give money, not eat, not marry, leave our family—the merit-earning never ends. Can suffering more lead to less suffering later on? After all of these years, I have to ask if our merit is enough to end suffering. What if we are not able to earn enough merit to end dukkha and experience nirvana? What if someone greater than we are is needed to end the suffering once and for all?” “Enough!” Tashi Lama said. “You are bringing judgment on us all by questioning the Buddha and offending the gods.” “More judgment? You mean more than we already have? Look around at the suffering of our people. We are sick with no cure. We are hungry with no food. We are poor with no jobs. We are thirsty with no clean water. What have our merits earned us in heaven or on earth? Tashi Lama, I have seen you pray for hours and days and weeks. What have your prayers earned you? I have seen the people here spin prayer wheels until their arms could no longer be held up, and what mercy did they get?” “Stop him!” Tashi Lama yelled out. “Wait!” I held up my hand to delay the monks who were prepared to grab me. “Tashi Lama, what if I told you that there was a way to obtain merits that you did not earn?” Suddenly, the monks who were prepared to grab me waited to hear more…What if all of the merits that you have been trying to earn have already been earned and are now offered to you—not by works, but by grace?” There was a pause from Tashi Lama. “Om mani padme hummmmm,” I chanted again and held out my hands in the chanting pose meant to channel the energy. “When we chant mantras, what are we doing? We are beckoning the aid of the spirit world to give us insight about something we do not understand—right? What if we need help from the spirit world not just to help with understanding, but to help with merit?” I felt that what I was saying was starting to make sense to everyone around me. I could tell that they were waiting for me to explain more to them. “What if I told you that I prayed to a God who said that He could guide me through the spirit world and I did not have to earn merits to hear from Him because He gave it all to me by grace. I could not earn it on my own.” The crowd was breathlessly silent. Not even prayer beads could be heard rolling through the rough knuckles of aged monks. “When I was lying in bed in the hospital, I was told about a God who gave His life for me so that I would not have to suffer dukkha any longer. He did not do it because I had earned enough merits. He did it because He loved me. His love leads to the path that ends suffering, and His name is Jesus.” “Grab him now!” Tashi Lama shouted. “Kill him!” the crowd screamed. “He is a Christian! Kill him!” Suddenly, I was shoved to the ground and surrounded by several monks. My face was pushed into the dirt and I could feel the sharp jabs of feet kicking me in the ribs. I felt my hair being pulled. I hadn’t shaved my head for a while and there was some growth on top, and the monks’ hands were plucking at the stubble, but it wasn’t giving them enough of a grip. Then someone latched their hands around my head and laced their fingers at the bottom of my chin and started to drag me backward across the dirt. I was choking and so I tried to propel myself with my feet in the direction that my head was being pulled, but there were too many people around. That is all I remember.” (Tenzin Lahkpa & Eugene Bach, Leaving Buddha: A Tibetan Monk’s Encounter with the Living God, 2996-3048 (Kindle Edition); New Kensington, Pa; Whitaker House)

The Four Noble Truths are not true.

However, there is a Savior Who can provide forgiveness and salvation-Jesus Christ, Who identifies Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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