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The Four Noble Truths

 

With the Four Noble Truths we enter the real heart of the teaching of the Buddha. The Four Noble Truths are one of the most fundamental of the schemes delineated by the Buddha. In many important particulars, they virtually coincide with the whole of the doctrine of Shakyamuni. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths is synonymous with the attainment of the goal of Buddhist practice. The Buddha himself indicated as much when he said that it is failure to comprehend the Four Noble Truths that has caused us to run on so long in the cycle of birth and death. The Buddha's first discourse was on the Four Noble Truths and the Middle Way.

  • The first truth says that existence is characterized by suffering (duhkha) and does not bring satisfaction.
  • The second truth gives as the cause of suffering craving or desire for sensual pleasures, for becoming and passing away. It is this craving that binds beings to the cycle of existence (samsara).
  • The third truth says that through elimination of craving, suffering can be brought to an end.
  • The fourth truth gives the Eightfold Path as the means for ending suffering.

In the formula of the Four Noble Truths we have a summary of the teaching of the Buddha in theory and in practice.

The Four Noble Truths
Ajahn Chah

The Four Noble Truths
Ajahn Sumedho

The Nobility of the Truths
Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Four Noble Truths
Peter Della Santina

Excerpts from the teachings of the Buddha on the Four Noble Truths

Suffering Zen and The Four Noble Truths
Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya

The Four Noble Truths
H.H. The Dalai Lama

The Four Noble Truths
Thrangu Rinpoche

The Four Noble Truths
Gil Frosndal, four talks