All that is conditioned is impermanent.
All emotional reactions are suffering.
All experience is empty.
To go beyond misery is peace.
The four seals, as these four lines are called, make it clear that the aim of Buddhist practice is peace. It is the end of suffering.
A prevailing myth in Western Buddhism is the maxim "know ye the truth, and the truth will make you free". This misleading Christian myth (John 8:32) can, perhaps, be laid at the door of Socrates and his followers. They envisioned an ideal world of forms in which beauty, goodness, and truth were one and the same. This sentiment has, in our age, led people to ignore the fact that the various values of a democratic society — equality, justice, freedom, etc. — often conflict with one another.
The myth is deeply embedded in the Western thought and, inevitably, has insinuated itself into Buddhist thinking in Western societies.
What leads one to embark on Buddhist practice? There is only one answer: a mind (or heart) that is not at peace. One may call the aim awakening, or freedom, or presence, but these are all misleading terms, each of them implicitly suggesting a "higher" or "truer" way of living, or being, or whatever.
We cannot know what is true. As Chuang Tzu says, "How do I know I'm not a butterfly dreaming that I'm Chuang Tzu?"
Awakening? The best we can do, as Wittgenstein said, is to awaken to the understanding that we are asleep and dreaming.
Freedom? The more clearly one sees things, the less choice one has. The illusion of choice is actually an indication of a lack of freedom.
Presence? When I say that I am present in a situation, I mean that I am not being distracted or torn apart by internal or external tensions, in other words, a kind of peace, no?
If you look at the actual experience that these terms refer to, you find peace, peace from the tension of not knowing what experience is, peace from the tension of feeling bound and conditioned, peace from the tension between subject and object, etc.