Our modern life is overwhelmed by a culture of consumerism whose effects are far reaching to all people. This culture has led to many people trying to affirm their self identity and seek happiness by engaging in extensive consumption of products. To fuel this need for goods, more products are continuing to flood the market so as to sate our seemingly unquenchable thirst for products. The ancient teachings of Buddha offer some insights into how this culture can be taken into perspective and even broken. This paper will analyze the Four Noble Truths as offered by Buddha so as to ascertain if these truths can be used to overcome the bondage of materialism that has consumed modern man. The teachings of Buddha were considered as a raft through which man would be able to move from his current position of discontent to a farther shore of content. The “Four Noble Truths” are principles that are fundamental to the Buddhist philosophy.
The first noble truth states that “Life means suffering”. This truth points to the inevitability of man to avoid physical pain and misery over his lifetime. It also reveals that there are positive experiences which man experiences in his lifetime. Buddha affirms that these positive experiences are temporal and they pass away with time. The culture of constantly consuming products is mostly in a bid to find true happiness. However, the teachings of Buddha rightfully state that this is only a temporal consolation.
Through Buddha’s teachings, we can see that suffering is inevitable and therefore not something to try to avoid at whatever costs. The second Noble Truth states that “The origin of suffering is attachment”. As such, suffering is seen as springing from our desires, passions and clinging to objects that we hold dear. Buddha declares that since the objects of our affection are only temporal we cause ourselves great pain when we loss them. With this in mind, people should avoid attaching too much to their material possessions since they are temporal.
By doing this, people can save themselves from heart ache that comes from the loss that inevitably follows. The third truth claims that “the cessation of suffering is attainable”. As such, man is not without a means by which he can alleviate his suffering that Buddha attributes to his earthly attachments. However, this teaching prescribes a different path to terminating suffering from the one that our modern culture applies. While our culture emphasis attainment of wealth and power as the only means through which suffering can be contained, Buddha reveals that suffering can be removed by the human act of detaching ourselves from our previous attachments.
In conclusion, Buddha also offers a solution to the problem of suffering that man has. This is in the Forth Noble truth which proposes a balance between self over-indulgence and self-mortification which involves denying yourself off everything. This is the balance that man must try to attain so as to avoid the ills that the culture of consumerism brings. This means that people should not altogether disengage from their consumption.
Instead, moderation needs to be exercised so as to bring about peace of mind as well as avoid the wastage that over indulgence in consumerism causes. This paper set out to assess the relevance of Buddha’s teachings in light of the over indulgence in consumerism that people face in the current age. It has been discovered that the teachings of Buddha can be used to reduce this culture since these teachings clarify that the problem that man tries to solve through overconsumption of products cannot be solved by this means.
It is my belief that by applying these teachings of Buddha, the “cycle of self-identity through materialistic consumerism” can be broken.