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Ito Jakuchu
The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, from Sakyamuni Triptych
ca. first half of the 1760s
ink and colors on silk
Jotenkaku Museum
Shokokuji Monastery
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Ito Jakuchu

by Donald Kuspit

Following the procedure of the physician of his day inspecting a patient, the Buddha makes four statements concerning the case of man. These are the so-called “Four Noble Truths” which constitute the heart and kernel of his doctrine. The first, All life is sorrowful, announces that we members of the human race are spiritually unhealthy, the symptom being that we carry on our shoulders a burden of sorrow; the disease is endemic. No discussion of any question of guilt goes with this matter-of-fact diagnosis; for the Buddha indulged in no metaphysical or mythological dissertations. He inquired into the cause on the practical, psychological level, however, hence we have, as the second of the “Four Noble Truths,” The cause of suffering is ignorant craving.


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