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Four Noble Truths 

Four Noble Truths

From The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen translated by Michael H. Kohn; © 1991 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.,

(Skt., ārya-satya; Pali, ariya-satta); these are the basis of the Buddhist teaching. The four noble truths are (1) the truth of suffering (duhkha); (2) the truth of the ori­gin (samudāya) of suffering; (3) the truth of the cessation (nirodha) of suffering; (4) the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suf­fering.

The first truth says that all existence is charac­terized by suffering and does not bring satisfac­tion. Everything is suffering: birth, sickness, death; coming together with what one does not like; separating from what one does like; not obtaining what one desires; and the five aggregates (skandha) of attachment that constitute the personality.

The second truth gives as the cause of suffer­ing craving or desire, the thirst (trishnā) for sensual pleasure, for becoming and passing away. This craving binds beings to the cycle of existence (samsāra).

The third truth says that through remainderless elimination of craving, suffering can be brought to an end. The fourth truth gives the eightfold path as the means for the ending of suffering.

Nonrecognition of the four noble truths is ig­norance (avidyā).

The discovery of the four noble truths by the Buddha constituted, according to the various traditions, his actual enlightenment (bodhi). Buddha expounded these truths in the Benares discourse as his first teaching immediately after his enlightenment.


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