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Apr 21st
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Home Teachings The Four Noble Truths The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths

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The Four Noble Truths
The First Noble Truth
The Second Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth
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Ven. Kaba-Aye Sayadaw Bhaddanta Pannadipa

(from the courtesy of


Blind is the world, the Buddha taught. Many a man born in this sensuous world rarely sees Truth. In fact, the Truth is existing and prevailing all the time everywhere in the whole universe. Yet man, being ignorant, finds it very hard to see the truth due to the darkness of his ignorance and craving desire:

Having the brilliant light of the Noble Teaching and the true Dhamma in our present, we human beings are virtuously given the unique opportunity to know and understand the Noble truth of the Dhamma. ( Ariya Sacca )

Man, as the supreme master of himself, has the potential to attain real Blissful Peace and Happiness of liberation. If man actually abides by the principles of the Buddha's teaching, he is ascertained to attain the Noble Path, Fruition and Nibbana found out and admonished by His fully Enlightenment.

May all be enlightened in the four Noble Truths!


Mankind today, with the scientifically advanced mind, pondering and searching for a happier state and betterment of living, has been engaged in trying to find a solution to the problems of life. From the time man became inquisitive to investigate into everything he had come across, he often asked with rational thinking questions such as; What is life?, How does it originate? Is life miserable or happy? What is the true philosophy of life? What constitutes man? From where did he come? Where will he go after death? How did the universe emerge? How was man related with the universe? How were man and the universe created? Is it true that man and the universe were created by a Supreme Being? Why is man faced with miseries? Is it possible for him to escape from these painful miseries or not? Is there any actual ways and means for his deliverance? and so on and so forth.

These queries and questions concerning man and the universe had been thought of and pondered over a long time ago Yet, so far as man is concerned, he is still unfolding the real answer and thus vaguely groping in the unawareness of the Real Truth due to the lack of knowledge of the absolute true philosophy

How fortunate mankind is to get the golden opportunity of knowing the true philosophy of the Noble Truths (Ariya Sacca) enunciated by the Buddha! It is more correct to say that Buddhism should be regarded not as a religion but as a way of life or moral principles for man's living for the attainment of peace and happiness, since the Dhamma discovered by the Buddha is a universal law or norm. The Dhamma which consists of the Four Noble Truths as a main theme, and discovered by the Buddha, is conceivable by each and every one, provided that one is in actual quest for it.

The Buddha was the real proof of Himself that before His final enlightenment, as a Bodhisatta (Buddha-to-be), the Prince Siddhattha had encountered religious leaders of various sects who were also searching for the same truth, or who claimed to have discovered it. Among them the two well known sages, Alara and Udaka could teach him only up to a mental stage of Jhanic trance. Thus the Bodhisatta was not satisfied with the knowledge he had gained from them as it was not the final deliverance that he sought for.

At that time, there were two kinds of beliefs which were most prevalent and generally accepted as a true path leading to supreme happiness. One belief was that after death there was no rebirth and what ever one did during the present life there would be no resultant effect in the future. Death is merely the end of one's life. Those who had accepted such a belief would indulge in all the available joys and pleasures of life called in Pali (Kamasuk allikanuyoga) meaning an indulgence in enjoyment of all sensual pleasures of life.

The other belief was that those who were seeking for the supreme happiness could gain it only when they exert their utmost submitting themselves to a life of austere hardships and trials, such as lying on thorny beds exposing themselves to extreme heat or cold even naked, sinking in the water, sitting with unsuitable postures, not taking any food for long periods of time and the like. Such severe practice which torments the body and mind is called self-mortification (Attakilamathanuyoga) in Pali.

The Bodhisatta as Prince Siddhattha had undergone these two extremes. The former up to the age of 29 and the latter up to the age of 35. Finally he came to realize that both these extremes led him only to unworthy, harmful as well as painful ends not conducive to attaining intellectual wisdom. Thus, having recalled his early experience of the first Mental Absorption, the Bodhisatta, avoiding the two extremes, changed to the way of practice known as (Majjhimapatipada) the Middle Way called the Golden Path.

When the Bodhisatta, seated under the Bodhi Tree and applied himself to inducing the first Jhana once more, and then the second, then the third and the fourth Absorptions, he attained the perfect tranquility. And he went on to apply mental concentration to the analytical examination of his own interior world-the body, the mind and the mental object.

The technique of tranquillizing the mind, known as Samatha bhavana is the precedent to the cultivation of insight meditation (Vipassana). It is only with the insight meditation that the mind finally penetrates the Four Noble Truths and so comes to distinguish reality from illusion. The ultimate truth is then seen face to face by the intuitive and enlightened wisdom. From being descriptive truths that are merely grasped intellectually, the Four Noble Truths become known, understood and felt as certainties, on a new level of realization. In a quite indescribable way they can be experienced only by the super conscious wisdom.

Thus it was by intuitive penetration that the Bodhisatta attained Buddhahood. As a Buddha who was fully Enlightened in the Four Noble Truths. He was able to see through and beyond the cosmic processes, passing the boundaries of space and time. At last, after six long years of arduous suffering and fruitless austerities, not being indebted to anyone for His realization of them, He was able to say "I discovered the profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult to comprehend, exalted tranquil and sublime, subtle which is not to be grasped by mere reasoning and is visible only to the wise." (M.26)

"All have I overcome, all do I know,

From all am I detached, all have I renounced.

Wholly absorbed am I in the destruction of craving (Arahatship).

Having comprehended all by myself whom else shall I call my teacher?

No teacher have I. An equal to me there is not,

In the world including gods there is no rival to me,

Indeed an Arahat (supremely Awakened One) am I in this world,

An unsurpassed teacher am I;

Alone am I the All-Perfectly Enlightened,

Cool and appeased am I."

These noble Truths are ever in existence whether the Buddhas appear or not, but it is only a Buddha who reveals them to the deluded world. They do not and cannot change with time because they are eternal Truths.

The Truth He had realized was the fourfold division of knowledge - the basis of all that is comprehended only in the term Nanadassana , Insight-vision or Wisdom. In fact, the Buddha's Teachings can be summarised in these Four Noble Truths. Concerning the first declaration of these Truths the Buddha said, "The Perfect One, O Bhikkhus, the Fully Enlightened One has established at Isipatana the Supreme Kingdom of Truth which none can overthrow neither ascetic nor Brahman, nor Heavenly Being, nor God, nor anyone whatsoever in the universe - by proclaiming, pointing out, revealing, setting up, explaining and making clear the Four Noble Truths."

"And what are these Four Noble Truths? They are the Truth of Suffering, the Truth of the Cause of Suffering, the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and the Truth of the Noble Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering."

These Four Noble Truths constitute the uniqueness of Buddhism for, as the Buddha said," O Bhikkhus, so long as the Four Noble Truths were not understood and not comprehensively realized, I as well as you had wandered and gone round in Samsara.

"O Bhikkhus, so long as the absolutely true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Truths was not quite clear to me, so long I was not sure whether I had attained the Supreme Enlightenment which is unsurpassed in all the world. But as soon as the absolutely true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Noble Truths had become perfectly clear to me, there arose in me the assurance that I had attained to that supreme, unsurpassed Enlightenment. Unshakable is the deliverance of my mind; this is the last birth, there will be no more birth, for me again."

These Truths are termed in Pail "Ariyasacca" which are so called because they are discovered by the Greatest Noble Ariya, the Buddha, who was utterly released from all passion and fully-enlightened in it.


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" Wealth destroys the foolish; but it cannot destroy those who seek the other shore (i.e., Nibbana). By his craving for wealth the fool destroys himself, as he would destroy others. "

The Dhammapada

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