Four Noble Truths of Buddha

Four noble truths are also known as the truths of the noble ones. the truths or realities for the “spiritually worthy ones”. The truths are:

  • dukkha (suffering, incapable of satisfying, painful) is an innate characteristic of existence in the realm of samsara,
  • samudaya (origin, arising) of this dukkha, which arises or “comes together” with taṇha(“craving, desire or attachment”),
  • nirodha (cessation, ending) of this dukkha can be attained by the renouncement or letting go of this taṇha,
  • magga (path, Noble Eightfold Path) is the path leading to the renouncement of tanha and cessation of dukkha.


What are Four Noble Truths?

As you have been told, the Four Noble truths are the Truths of the Noble Ones. They are usually justified and believed in Buddhism. They are traditionally defined as the teaching given by Buddha himself, though they are one of the most important teachings in Buddhism. Four Noble Truths are known as, Pali Chattari-ariya-saccani, Sanskrit Chatvari-Arya-satyani, one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism, which is said to have been set by the fourth buddha in Buddhism, who was also the founder of his religion and served in its peace and enlightened the path.

The four truths are described in many unique grammatical forms prescribed in the ancient Buddhist texts. They got both, a symbolic function and a propositional function which is related to grammar. Symbolically, they represent the awakening of the Buddha leading towards its liberation and depends to maintain the potential in his followers to gain the same religious experience as he had. As propositions, the Four Truths are a conceptual framework that appears in the Pali canon and early Hybrid Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures. They are a part of the broader “network of teachings”(the “dhamma matrix”), which have to be taken together. They provide a conceptual framework for introducing and explaining Buddhist thought, which has to be personally understood or “experienced”.

As a proposition, the four truths defy an exact definition, but refer to and express the basic orientation of Buddhism, unguarded sensory contact gives rise to craving and clinging to impermanent states and things, which are dukkha, “incapable of satisfying” and painful. This craving keeps us caught in samsara, “wandering,” usually interpreted as the endless cycle of repeated rebirth, and the continued dukkha that comes with it. There is a way to end this cycle, namely by attaining nirvana, cessation of craving, whereafter rebirth, and the accompanying dukkha will no longer arise again. This can be accomplished by following the eightfold path, confining our automatic responses to sensory contact by restraining ourselves, cultivating, discipline and wholesome states, and practicing mindfulness and dhyana (meditation).

The function of the four truths, and their importance, developed over time and the Buddhist tradition slowly recognized them as the Buddha’s first teaching. This tradition was established when prajna, or “liberating insight”, came to be regarded as liberating in itself, instead of or in addition to the practice of dhyana. This “liberating insight” gained a prominent place in the sutras, and the four truths came to represent this liberating insight, as a part of the enlightenment story of the Buddha

The four truths grew to be of central importance in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism by about the 5th-century CE, which holds that the insight into the four truths is liberating in itself. They are less prominent in the Mahayana tradition, which sees the higher aims of insight into sunyata, emptiness, and following the Bodhisattva path as central elements in their teachings and practice. The Mahayana tradition reinterpreted the four truths to explain how a liberated being can still be “pervasively operative in this world”. Beginning with the exploration of Buddhism by western colonialists in the 19th century and the development of Buddhist modernism, they came to be often presented in the west as the central teaching of Buddhism, sometimes with novel modernistic reinterpretations very different from the historic Buddhist traditions in Asia.

What were the Four Truths for?

The four truths are best known from their presentation in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta text, which contains two sets of the four truths, while various other sets can be found in the Pali Canon, a collection of scriptures in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition. The full set, which is most commonly used in modern expositions, contains grammatical errors, pointing to multiple sources for this set and translation problems within the ancient Buddhist community. Nevertheless, they were considered correct by the Pali tradition, which did not correct them.

According to the Buddhist tradition, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, “Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion”, contains the first teachings that the Buddha gave after attaining full awakening and liberation from rebirth. According to L. S. Cousins, many scholars are of the view that “this discourse was identified as the first sermon of the Buddha only at a later date,” and according to professor of religion Carol S. Anderson the four truths may originally not have been part of this sutta but were later added in some versions. Within this discourse, the four noble truths are given as follows (“bhikkus” is normally translated as “Buddhist monks”):

  • Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering, separation from what is pleasing is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.

  • Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving (taṇha, “thirst”) which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for no becoming.

  • Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it.

  • Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this noble eightfold path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

The Four Truths today

Cultivating an awareness of reality allows Buddhists to deal effectively with delusional interpretations and perceptions. Through meditation, this awareness is developed so that they can escape from samsara and take all sentient beings with them. In this way, the habitual view of the human condition can be transformed and deep insight into the meaning of life can be gained.

Explanation of the Four Truths

Truth 1: The Truth of Suffering

All humans experience surprises, frustrations, betrayals, etc., which lead to unhappiness and suffering. Acknowledging or accepting that we will encounter difficulties in daily life as an inevitable and universal part of life as a human being is the first truth. Within this, there are two types of suffering) natural suffering, disasters, wars, infections, etc.) self-inflicted suffering, habitual reacting, and unnecessary anxiety and regret.

Truth 2: The Causes of Suffering

All suffering lies not in external events or circumstances but in the way we react to and deal with them, our perceptions, and our interpretations. Suffering emerges from craving for life to be other than it is, which derives from the 3 poisons: Ignorance (Delusion) of the fact that everything, including the self, is impermanent and interdependent; Desire (Greed) of objects and people who will help us to avoid suffering; Aversion (Anger) to the things we do not want, thinking we can avoid suffering. We can learn to look at each experience as it happens and be prepared for the next.

Truth 3: The End of Suffering

We hold limiting ideas about ourselves, others, and the world, which we need to let go of. We can unlearn everything from our social conditioning and so bring down all barriers or separations.

Truth 4: The Path that Frees us from Suffering

The mind leads us to live in a dualistic way, but if we are aware of and embrace our habits and illusions, we can abandon our expectations about the ways things should be and instead accept the way they are. We can use mindfulness and meditation to examine our views and so get an accurate perspective.

This Truth contains the Eightfold Path leading out of samsara to nirvana. It consists of

  1. Right View (samyag - drastic) – acceptance of the fundamental Buddhist teachings
  2. Right Resolve (samyak - Sankalpa) – adopting a positive outlook and a mind free from lust, ill-will, and cruelty
  3. Right Speech (samyag -vac) – using positive and productive speech as opposed to lying, frivolous or harsh speech
  4. Right Action (samyak - charmante) – keeping the five precepts (panca - sila) – refraining from killing, stealing, misconduct, false speech, and taking intoxicants
  5. Right Livelihood (samyag -ajiva) – avoiding professions that harm others such as slavery of prostitution
  6. Right Effort (samyag - Vayama) – directing the mind towards wholesome goals
  7. Right Mindfulness (samyak - smrti) – being aware of what one is thinking, doing, and feeling at all times
  8. Right Meditation (samyak -samadhi) – focusing attention in order to enter meditational states (dhyanas).

These eight aspects of the path are often divided into 3 groups or skandhas: 3-5 relate to morality; 6-8 to meditation; and 1-2 to insight. This eightfold path is not linear, passing from one stage to the next, but cumulative so that ideally all eight factors are practiced simultaneously.

These truths have their own credentials which are explained below:

1. The Suffering of Suffering

This is the easiest form of suffering that we can identify in our lives. It refers to the physical and emotional states that we go through daily. Traditionally, this classification covers seven examples of suffering, which include both physical and emotional elements:

  1. Birth: the process of birth is suffering for all involved, especially the child and the mother. This also includes the suffering from the time of conception, and even after childbirth.
  2. Old age: our bodies no longer work the way they did and we find it harder to do things that we used to. This manifests as not only physical pain but extreme emotional pain.
  3. Sickness: we suffer physically and we suffer emotionally due to the physical pain.
  4. Death: This is not only the physical suffering of being parted from loved ones but involves tremendous emotional suffering when we think of our mortality and also when those we love to pass on.
  5. Having to part with what we like: when we lose something that we are attached to, the suffering that is caused is more emotional than physical.
  6. Having to meet with what we do not like: this not only involves physically coming across something that we do not like but also emotional states that we tend to avoid.
  7. Not getting what we want: driven by the need to be happy, we all desire things in life but more often than not, we do not get what we want in the way we want it. This obviously leads to some form of suffering.

2. The Suffering of Change

This suffering comes from the fact that when we think about things, we do not take into consideration that things change and are impermanent. For example, think of being in a room with no windows in a tropical country; there is no movement of air and it is very stuffy inside. At this point, we are suffering. But if we turn the air-conditioning on and all of a sudden there is a gust of cold air, which brings down the temperature in the room, then we feel like we are not suffering and are content with the environment that we are in. But over time, the room cools down to the point that it is too cold. Then we start to suffer again because it is too cold. We yearn to go outside into the sun. When we go outside and feel the sun warming our bodies, we feel like we are no longer suffering but happy. However, over time it gets too hot and we start sweating and we get uneasy. We wish we were back in the air-conditioned room.

Therefore, when things change, we begin to suffer, because our notion of being happy is static, but the environment we live in, all of existence, in fact, is constantly in a state of flux. When these do not align with each other, we suffer. This type of suffering includes aging, sickness, and other types of physical suffering, but also includes varied states of emotional suffering too. For instance, the realization that you are getting old, or that you are sick when you have an argument with your partner or friend when you realize that things are not going to be the same as they have been, or that situations in life are changing.

3. All-Pervasive Suffering

This type of suffering is difficult to understand, and very philosophical in nature. Therefore, I won’t talk about it too much here. In essence, all experiences within existence are conditioned to lead us to suffer. This is due to the very fact that our present Five Aggregates (Form, Feeling, Discrimination, Compositional Factors, and Consciousness) are the causes for these Five Aggregates in the future, which only support future suffering. Our present experiences of suffering lead to future experiences of suffering. Existence is, therefore, bound by all-pervasive suffering.

Teachings of Buddhism

What is the History of Buddhism and who originated it?

Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism who later became known as “the Buddha,” lived during the 5th century B.C. Gautama was born into a wealthy family as a prince in present-day Nepal. Although he had an easy life, Gautama was moved by suffering in the world.

He decided to give up his lavish lifestyle and endure poverty. When this didn’t fulfill him, he promoted the idea of the “Middle Way,” which means existing between two extremes. Thus, he sought life without social indulgences but also without deprivation. After six years of searching, Buddhists believe Gautama found enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. He spent the rest of his life teaching others about how to achieve this spiritual state.


When Gautama passed away around 483 B.C., his followers began to organize a religious movement. Buddha’s teachings became the foundation for what would develop into Buddhism. In the 3rd century B.C. Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Indian emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India. Buddhist monasteries were built, and missionary work was encouraged. Over the next few centuries, Buddhism began to spread beyond India.

The thoughts and philosophies of Buddhists became diverse, with some followers interpreting ideas differently than others. In the sixth century, the Huns invaded India and destroyed hundreds of Buddhist monasteries, but the intruders were eventually driven out of the country. Islam began to spread quickly in the region during the Middle Ages, forcing Buddhism into the background.

Types of Buddhism

Today, many forms of Buddhism exist around the world. The three main types that represent specific geographical areas include:

  • Theravada Buddhism: Prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma

  • Mahayana Buddhism: Prevalent in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam

  • Tibetan Buddhism: Prevalent in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and northern India

Each of these types reveres certain texts and has slightly different interpretations of Buddha’s teachings. There are also several subsects of Buddhism, including Zen Buddhism and Nirvana Buddhism. Some forms of Buddhism incorporate ideas of other religions and philosophies, such as Taoism and Bon.

Buddha’s teachings are known as “dharma.” He taught that wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion were important virtues.

Specifically, all Buddhists live by five moral precepts, which prohibit:

  • Killing living things
  • Taking what is not given
  • Lying
  • Using drugs or alcohol

Buddhism Beliefs

  • Followers of Buddhism don’t acknowledge a supreme god or deity. They instead focus on achieving enlightenment, a state of inner peace and wisdom. When followers reach this spiritual echelon, they’re said to have experienced nirvana.

  • The religion’s founder, Buddha, is considered an extraordinary man, but not a god. The word Buddha means “enlightened.”

  • The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom. Buddhists often meditate because they believe it helps awaken truth.

  • There are many philosophies and interpretations within Buddhism, making it a tolerant and evolving religion.

  • Some scholars don’t recognize Buddhism as an organized religion, but rather, a “way of life” or a “spiritual tradition.”

  • Buddhism encourages its people to avoid self-indulgence but also self-denial.

  • Buddha’s most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding religion.

  • Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).

  • Followers of Buddhism can worship in temples or in their own homes.

  • Buddhist monks, or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy.

  • There is no single Buddhist symbol, but a number of images have evolved that represent Buddhist beliefs, including the lotus flower, the eight-spoked dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree, and the swastika (an ancient symbol whose name means “well-being” or “good fortune” in Sanskrit).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the 4th noble truth called?

The third truth is the cessation of suffering (Pali and Sanskrit: nirodha), commonly called Nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana). The fourth and final truth is the path (Pali: magga; Sanskrit: marga) to the cessation of suffering, which was described by the Buddha in his first sermon.

2. What are the 3 main Buddhist beliefs??

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are The Three Universal Truths, The Four Noble Truths, and The Noble Eightfold Path.

3. What are the Four Noble Truths of Islam?

The truth of suffering (dukkha) The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya) The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha) The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)

4. Why are the Four Noble Truths important?

The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths which are central to his teachings. The Four Noble Truths are important because beyond the pale of religion they are very relevant to human psychology and our existence. They enable us to understand the scope and nature of our suffering and find suitable remedies for it.

5. How do the four noble truths cause nirvana?

The Buddha said: "One who is willing to attain Nirvana, has to understand Four Noble Truths. These Noble Truths are the key to attain Nirvana, without proper understanding of Suffering, Cause of Suffering, Relief of Suffering, and the way to end Suffering.

6. Which book explains the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism?

The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Buddha’s teaching on the Four Noble Truths, has been the main reference that I have used for my practice over the years.

7. Are the Four Noble Truths pessimistic?

As the Buddhist nun Ayya Khema writes, the Four Truths are "often misunderstood to mean that the Buddha’s teaching is pessimistic, or that it stresses only the suffering, pain and unhappiness which are inherent in us.

8. What are the 5 aggregates in Buddhism?

The five aggregates or heaps are form (or material image, impression) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana).

9. Are the four noble truths the most important Buddhist teaching?

5 'The Four Noble Truths are the most important Buddhist teaching. ’ Evaluate this statement. Some Buddhists will agree with this statement because the Four Noble Truths focus on dukkha and its cessation which lead to enlightenment and therefore end the cycle of rebirth.

10. What are the 7 Buddhist virtues?

One list of virtues that are widely promoted in Buddhism is the Paramitas (perfections), Dana (generosity), Sila (proper conduct), Nekkhamma (renunciation), Panna (wisdom), Viriya (energy), Khanti (patience), Sacca (honesty), Adhitthana (determination), Metta (Good-Will), Upekkha (equanimity).


The four noble truths are the truths and most probably the teachings of the nobles. These were introduced and originated in Buddhism. They are usually justified and believed in Buddhism. They are traditionally identified as the first teaching given by the Buddha and considered one of the most important teachings in Buddhism. Four Noble Truths, Pali Chattari-ariya-saccani, Sanskrit Chatvari-Arya-satyani, one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism, said to have been set forth by the Buddha, the founder of the religion, in his first sermon, which he gave after his enlightenment.

Here are the four noble truths:

  • dukkha (suffering, incapable of satisfying, painful) is an innate characteristic of existence in the realm of samsara,
  • samudaya (origin, arising) of this dukkha, which arises or “comes together” with taṇha(“craving, desire or attachment”),
  • nirodha (cessation, ending) of this dukkha can be attained by the renouncement or letting go of this taṇha,
  • magga (path, Noble Eightfold Path) is the path leading to the renouncement of tanha and cessation of dukkha.

Temple of Buddha

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