The Four Noble Truths


Introduction & References

  • Buddha's first sermon (the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
  • Outlined the central teachings known as the Four Noble Truths

Donald Lopez

  • Writer of the 2008 book, 'Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed'
  • Believes the term has been mistranslated and misunderstood
  • It should be translated as the 'Four Truths of the Noble' because the nobility belongs to the person that follows them

Peter Harvey

  • Specialist scholar of Buddhism
  • 'Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings and Practices' (1990)- Links to Pail and Mahayana Buddhism
  • Translation of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta from Pali has preferred the term 'sure realities' in an attempt to re-emphasise the empirical nature of the Buddha's observations
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The Four Noble Truths

1. Dukkha (stress, unsatifactoriness)

2. Tanha (craving which causes samudaya or arising of dukkha)

3. Nirodha (preventing and stopping craving)

4. Magga (the actualisation of Nirodha and the path- referring to the Eightfold Path)

'I suffer because I become attached to things; if I stop being attached to things, then I will become wise to the cause of suffering and become released from it'

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The Problem of Suffering

Buddhism identifies 3 kinds of suffering:

1. Dukkha- Dukkha (suffering as pain existence including bodily pain and mental anguish)

2. Viparinama- Dukkha (suffering experienced through change, such as the change that ends pleasure and happiness. referring to the changing nature of existence)

3. Sankhara- Dukkha (suffering inherent in the contingent nature of existence, and the frustration that things are constantley changing and we have no control)

Denise Cush

  • 'Buddhism: A Students Approach to World Religion'
  • Specialises in Buddhism
  • Argued that Sankhara- Dukka is "a more subtle dissatisfaction with life itself rather than with any specific problem"
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The Medicalisation of the Four Noble Truths

  • Buddha has been compared to doctor making a medical diagnosis for the disease that is suffering
  • Diagnosis of the problem that there is dukkha (suffering)
  • Invesigation into the for the samudaya (arising) of suffering which is observed as tanha (attachment/ craving)
  • The best way to eliminate suffering and reach prediagnosis requires one to prevent nirodha (to stop craving) leading to health and freedom from suffering
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