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Buddhism and psychology
Buddhist psychology
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhism and psychoanalysis
Buddhism and psychotherapy

Four Noble Truths
Noble Eightfold Path
The Five Precepts
Nirvāna · Three Jewels

Key Concepts
Three marks of existence
Skandha · Cosmology · Dharma
Samsara · Rebirth · Shunyata
Pratitya-samutpada · Karma

Practices and Attainment
Buddhahood · Bodhisattva
Four Stages of Enlightenment
Paramis · Meditation

Buddhism by Region

Schools of Buddhism
Theravāda · Mahāyāna
Vajrayāna · Early schools

Pali Suttas · Mahayana Sutras
Vinaya · Abhidhamma

Comparative Studies
Culture · List of Topics

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The Four Noble Truths (Pali: Chattari Arya Sachchhani, Chinese: 四聖諦 Sìshèngdì), being among the most fundamental Buddhist teachings, appear many times throughout the most ancient Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon. They arose as the core of the Buddha's enlightenment experience, and are regarded in Buddhism as deep psychological insight and a step-by-step cognitive methodology, and not mere philosophical theory. Therefore, the Buddha said in the Samyutta Nikaya:

These Four Noble Truths, monks, are actual, unerring, not otherwise. Therefore, they are called noble truths.[1]

This teaching was the basis of the Buddha's first discourse after his enlightenment, the Discourse on Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma[2]. In the Culamalunkya sutta[3] of the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha explained why he taught them:

Why have I declared (the four noble truths)? Because it is beneficial, it belongs to the fundamentals of the holy life, it leads to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvana. That is why I have declared it.

Four Noble Truths

Venerable Sariputta, the Buddha's chief disciple in wisdom, said that a wise person is one who understands the four noble truths, and an unwise person is one who does not understand them[4].

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.

  • 2. Samudaya: Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering:

It is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination.

  • 3. Nirodha: Now this, monks, 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, and non-reliance on it.

  • 4. Marga: Now this, monks, 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"[2][5].

The form the Buddha used in teaching the Four Noble Truths is similar to that of a medical diagnosis:

1. identify the disease and symptoms

2. its cause or diagnosis

3. its prognosis

4. and prescription

Thus the Buddha treats suffering as a psychological "dissonance" which we can confidently expect to cure by the practice of the Eightfold Path.

Gautama Buddha presented a cure for suffering - a permanent end to suffering which would destroy suffering from its very root. That suffering can end and that each one of us has the power to end it if we learn and practice is indeed a unique message both real and full of hope.


  1. Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000). "The Collected Discourses of the Buddha: A new translation of the Samyutta Nikaya", 1856, Somerville: Wisdom Publications.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000). {{{title}}}, 1844, Somerville: Wisdom Publications.
  3. Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1995). Bhikkhu Bodhi "The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya", 533-536.
  4. Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1995). Bhikkhu Bodhi "The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya", 387.
  5. (1976) Leon Feer The Samyutta Nikaya, 421f..

See also

External links


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