Truths to be practiced

The Four Noble Truths are not only to be learned, they are to be practiced:

The First Truth has to be fully understood. We have to understand the truth of our own existence, of our experience So the task imposed by this truth is full understanding — to understand our experience made up of the five aggregates

The Second Truth has to be abandoned. craving, the that originates suffering

The Third Truth has to be realized, attained of Nibbana

The Fourth Truth, the truth of the path, has to be developed. practiced and cultivated. By developing the path, we come to the full understanding of dukkha, By understanding dukkha, we abandon craving, By abandoning craving we realize nibbana, the end of dukkha. In this way the development of the path is the key to fulfilling all four functions regarding the four noble truths.

The Three Turnings
Each noble truth has three aspects. They are the three “turnings” of the Wheel of Dharma. In his first discourse at the Deer Park the Buddha says that until he had penetrated the four noble truths in their three turnings and twelve aspects (three aspects for each of the four truths), he did not claim that he had attained perfect enlightenment.

For each noble truth we reflect on the three aspects:

  • the statement of the theory — “There is suffering”
  • the prescription; how you actually practice with it — “Suffering is to be understood.”
  • the result of having practiced — “Suffering has been understood.”

Before we can realize the four noble truths we have to understand them; to understand them we have to study them as you have in this lesson. As we pointed out in Lesson 1, it is the integration of understanding and practice that brings us to awakening.

In this introductory course you are learning about the Four Noble Truths. In a future Ashoka course you will have an opportunity to study these in greater depth and to practice practice the three turnings for each of the Four Noble Truths in your life.


The Four Noble Truths

7 of 7

Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth


The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha