The Buddha: The Compassionate One
We have thus far reviewed the first three of the Noble Truths. These contain a certain conception, describing (1) Dukkha -- the difficult situation the human is in, (2) Tanha -- the passions as the essential cause of that situation, and (3) Nirvana -- a way out, the possibility of transforming the passions. The fourth Noble Truth, which we have yet to review in detail, is not so much a part ofthe conception as it a set of methods for accomplishing the transformation. We will postpone consideration of these methods in order to discuss additional features of the general conception.
Two epithets are applied to the Buddha. One, as we have already seen, is The Enlightened One. The other, equally appropriate, is The Compassionate One. The Buddha's mission was to lift the burdens of suffering from the shoulders of everyone. When Siddhartha attained the ultimate enlightenment and became the Buddha, he did not conclude that his task was over. He had escaped from suffering but there were billions of creatures then and into the future who would still be in Dukkha. It was not enough for him to be satisfied with his own emancipation. Therefore, he turned to help others.