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Fundamentals of Buddhism

When we speak of the end of suffering, the truth of
the cessation of suffering, we are speaking of the goal of
the Buddhist path. In one place the Buddha says that
just as the ocean, though vast, is of one taste — the taste
of salt, so it is in His teachings. Although there are many
items, all these teachings as vast as the ocean have only
one taste, and that is the taste of Nirvana. As you will
see, although there are many items of Buddhist
teachings — the Four Noble Truths, the three ways of
practice, dependent origination, the three characteristics
and so on — all these teachings have one goal in view and
that goal is the cessation of suffering. It is the goal that
gives all the various teachings that we find in Buddhism
their directions and purposes. The end of suffering is the
goal of Buddhist practice and yet this end of suffering is
not something which is only transcendental, which is
only ultimate. This is interesting because yesterday I
was asked to speak on the origin and development of the
Semitic religions and at the end of the session one of the
questions raised was “What is the final goal of the
Semitic religions and what is the distinction between the
spiritual goal offered by the Semitic religions and the
goal offered by Buddhism?” In the case of the Semitic
religions, I think it is fair to say that there are two goals.
One refers to this life, and is expressed in the sense of
building a kingdom of love, prosperity and justice in
this world. The other higher goal refers to attaining
heaven in the after-life. But in Buddhism we have a
much more comprehensive treatment. In other words,
this goal of the end of suffering that the Buddha speaks