The Four Noble Truths partially realised lead to self-liberation.
The Four Noble Truths totally actualised lead to liberation of others
[as they transform to be the Four Magnificent Vows].
First Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to rescue the boundless living beings from suffering.
The Buddha toils through eons for the sake of living beings
Cultivating limitless, oceanic, great compassion.
To comply with living beings, he enters birth and death,
Transforming the multitudes everywhere, so they become pure.
This vow corresponds to the First Noble Truth of Suffering:
What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering? Birth is suffering; old age is suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; to be together with what or those you hate is suffering; to be separated from what or those you love is suffering; not to obtain what you wish for is suffering; in general, identification with the Five Constituents of Existence (physical form, feeling, thoughts, volitional formations, and consciousness) is suffering. The Truth of Suffering should be understood.
Second Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to put an end to the infinite afflictions of living beings.
Living beings are drowning in the sea of afflictions.
Defiled by deluded and confused views,
they are quite alarming.
The Great Teacher feels pity in his heart and enables
them to separate from afflictions forever.
This corresponds to the Second Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering:
What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering? Just this thirst, leading to being, accompanied by delight and passion, gratifying itself now here and now there; namely the thirst for sense pleasures, the thirst for being, and the thirst for non-being. (This “thirst” implies ignorance of the first truth of suffering. Ignorance and thirst are the most fundamental afflictions.) The Cause of Suffering should be cut off.
Third Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to learn the measureless Dharma-doors.
Using measureless dharma-doors, he is totally free and easy.
He tames and regulates living beings
throughout the ten directions,
And yet while doing all of these among living beings,
the Bodhisattva is detached and makes no discriminations.
This corresponds to the Third Noble Truth of the Path That Leads to the Cessation of Suffering:
What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of the Path That Leads to the Cessation of Suffering? Just this eightfold path; namely right views, right intention, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditative-concentration. (The Bodhisattva’s Dharma-doors or methods of practice are the Six Perfections: giving, morality, patience, vigor, meditative-concentration and wisdom.) The Path should be practiced.
Fourth Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to realize the unsurpassed path of the Buddha.
The Thus Come One observes the world
and produces a heart of great compassion.
In order to benefit living beings, he appears
And shows them the peace and
happiness of the most supreme Path.
This corresponds to the Fourth Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering:
What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the passionless cessation of this very thirst (mentioned in the Truth of the Cause of Suffering) without remainder. Abandoning and renouncing it, being released from and averting from it. The Cessation of Suffering should be realized. Only when one becomes a Buddha, will one fully realize the cessation of all suffering.
Buddhism: A Brief Introduction
Based on teachings of Master Hsuan Hua
Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!