The noble quest is perceived as an escape from reincarnation, which is a form of bondage. There is danger in death, sickness, impunity and old age. Budha deems the Nibbana as the highest state of safety for it is not susceptible to bondage (Holder 05). There is no death or sorrow but endless security with life in the Nibbana.
To deeply understand the noble quest, one must first fathom what constitutes the ignoble quest. This is because the difference between the noble and the ignoble is very slim. Understanding the ignoble enables one to know what is noble; thus what should be pursued (the noble). When an individual is subjected to old age, it does not benefit his soul when he continues to be in the pursuit of what is subject to old age.
It is crucial to understand the kind of things that are subject to old age. One would think, what indeed is subjected to old age? Some of these include men and property. Relatives such as children wives, mothers and fathers and even animals like pigs and goats are all subject to old age. This list constitutes everything that is considered an object of pleasure, for instance, silver and gold. Primarily, individuals in their original nature are subject to old age, sickness, and death. Such is the case of other objects of pleasure like various types of property. Pursuing these objects and property (which are subjected to old age, sickness, and death) constitutes the ignoble quest.
Bodhisatta himself says that he was committed to life in the pursuit of those which are subject to old age sickness and death (Holder 11). The noble quest, therefore, is the direct opposite of this. He later denounced this way of life for he realized the wretchedness that it contained. To live the noble life is therefore to abandon that which Buddha abandoned and pursue Nibbana which is the divine peace. But how does Nibbana benefit he who seeks it? The peace of Nibbana is everlasting because it is not subject to birth, disease, old age or death.
It is, therefore, determined that whoever pursues it is free of the above. The noble quest is perceived, according to Budha, as the decision to avoid the company of or see the counsel of a fellow aged individual by another person who is also on the same path of old age or almost getting old. The noble quest considers that such life is not discreet at all. The same applies to the case of another who is ailing and of deteriorated health condition. It would be irrational if such a person enjoys the companionship of another person who was also hit by a deadly ailment. Seeking the companion of another who is on good health but may fall sick or be struck by a disease at any moment would also not make sense.
If for instance a couple settles down in marriage and one later becomes an invalid leaving the spouse with the difficult choice of looking after him, the hope of living a happy married life gets shuttered. The wealth, happiness and material things of the world are all subject to ailments, death or disease. The noblest quest, therefore, is to seek that which is not subject to the mentioned.
Holder John. Discourse on the Noble Quest”: Early Buddhist Discourses. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 2006.
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