union with what is disliked is painful;
in brief, the five bundles of grasping-fuel are painful.
It is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and attachment, seeking delight now here now there; that is, craving for sense-pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination (of what is not liked).
- "Now this, Bhikkhus, for the Noble One(s), is the reality which is the way leading to the cessation of pain.
It is this Noble Eight-factored Path, that is to say,
right mental unification."
And in the Buddhist causal notion of Dependent origination, ignorance of these Four Noble Truths is often identified as the starting point for "the whole mass of Suffering" (kevalassa dukkhakkhandha).
- "It is said that in the course of his long training for Enlightenment over many lives, a Bodhisatta can break all the moral precepts except the pledge to speak the truth.
The reason for this is very profound, and reveals that the commitment to truth has a significance transcending the domain of ethics and even mental purification, taking us to the domains of knowledge and being.
The two are respectively the outward and inward modalities of the same commitment to what is real. Wisdom consists in the realization of truth, and truth (sacca) is not just a verbal proposition but the nature of things as they are.
To realize truth our whole being has to be brought into accord with actuality, with things as they are, which requires that in communications with others we respect things as they are by speaking the truth.
Thus, much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the truth grasped by Wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire."
2. 'The Four Noble Truths' (ariya-sacca) are the briefest synthesis of the entire teachings of Buddhism, since all those manifold doctrines of the threefold canon are, without any exception, included therein.
- the truth of suffering,
- of the origin of suffering,
- of the extinction of suffering,
- and of the Eightfold Path leading to the extinction of suffering.
- The 1st truth, briefly stated, teaches that all forms of existence whatsoever are unsatisfactory and subject to suffering (dukkha).
- The 2nd truth teaches that all suffering, and all rebirth, is produced by craving (tanhā).
- The 3rd truth teaches that extinction of craving necessarily results in extinction (nirodha) of rebirth and suffering, i.e. nibbāna.
- The 4th truth of the Eightfold Path (magga) indicates the means by which this extinction is attained.
The stereotype text frequently recurring in the Sutta Pitaka, runs as follows:
- But what, o monks, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? It is that craving which gives rise to fresh rebirth and, bound up with lust and greed, now here, now there, finds ever fresh delight.
- "But what, o monks, is the noble truth of the extinction of suffering? It is the complete fading away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and giving up, liberation and detachment from it.
- "But what, o monks, is the noble truth of the path leading to the extinction of suffering? It is the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya-atthangika-magga) that leads to the extinction of suffering, namely:
|1. Right view (sammā-ditthi)
2. Right thought (sammā-sankappa)
|III. Wisdom (paññā)|
|3. Right speech (sammā-vācā)
4. Right action (sammā-kammanta)
5. Right livelihood (sammd-djiva)
|I. Morality (sīla)|
|6. Right effort (sammā-vāyāma)
7. Right mindfulness (sammā-sati)
8. Right concentration (sammā-samādhi)
|II. Concentration (samādhi)|
6. "What now, o monks, is right effort? If the disciple rouses his will to avoid the arising of evil, demeritorious things that have not yet arisen; ... if he rouses his will to overcome the evil, demeritorious things that have already arisen; ... if he rouses his will to produce meritorious things that have not yet arisen; ... if he rouses his will to maintain the meritorious things that have already arisen and not to let them disappear, but to bring them to growth, to maturity and to the full perfection of development; he thus makes effort, stirs up his energy, exerts his mind and strives (s. padhāna).
7. "What now, o monks is right mindfulness? If the disciple dwells in contemplation of corporeality ... of feeling ... of mind ... of the mind-objects, ardent, clearly conscious, and mindful after putting away worldly greed and grief (s. satipatthāna).
8. "What now, o monks, is right concentration? If the disciple is detached from sensual objects, detached from unwholesome things, and enters into the first absorption ... the second absorption ... the third absorption ... the fourth absorption" (s. jhāna).
- the first truth (suffering) is to be fully understood;
- the second truth (craving) to be abandoned;
- the third truth (Nibbāna) to be realized;
- the fourth truth (the path) to be cultivated.
"The truth of suffering is to be compared with a disease, the truth of the origin of suffering with the cause of the disease, the truth of extinction of suffering with the cure of the disease, the truth of the path with the medicine" (Vis.M. XVI).
'Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there.
Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it.
The path is, but no traveller on it is seen.
'The first truth and the second truth are empty
Of permanency, joy, of self and beauty;
The Deathless Realm is empty of an ego,
And free from permanency, joy and self, the path.'
It must be pointed out that the first truth does not merely refer to actual suffering, i.e. to suffering as feeling, but that it shows that, in consequence of the universal law of impermanency, all the phenomena of existence whatsoever, even the sublimest states of existence, are subject to change and dissolution, and hence are miserable and unsatisfactory; and that thus, without exception, they all contain in themselves the germ of suffering. Cf. Guide, p. 101f.
- Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (in WHEEL 17 and BODHI LEAVES);
- M.141; Sacca-Samyutta
- (S. LVI); Sacca Vibhanga;
- W. of B.; Vis.M. XVI:
- The Four Noble Truths by Francis Story (WHEEL 34/35);
- The Significance of the 4 Noble Truths by V. F. Gunaratna (WHEEL 123)