Yellow Robe - A Real Buddhist's Journal

Jul 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Teachings The Four Noble Truths The Four Noble Truths - The Fourth Noble Truth

The Four Noble Truths - The Fourth Noble Truth

E-mail Print PDF
Article Index
The Four Noble Truths
The First Noble Truth
The Second Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth
All Pages


We know that Nibbana which is free from all suffering is attain able in the present life by treading the Path shown by the Buddha In the first discourse after His Enlightenment, the Buddha delivered to the five disciples that there are two extreme courses to be avoided, on the one hand, that of sensual indulgence, which is impure, low vulgar, worldly, unworthy and unprofitable, and on the other, the practice of extreme physical asceticism, which is painful, vain and unprofitable in contrast to these stands "The Middle Path" which the Enlightened One has discovered - the Path which enables one to see and to know which leads to peace, to discernment, to full knowledge of Nibbana. Free from pain and torture is this Path, free from lamentation and anguish, it is the perfect Path." (Samyutta, 56)

It is called the Path because it destroys defilements and goes to Nibbana (In Pali - kilese marento nibbanam gacchatiti maggo), and it also searches for Nibbana (in Pali - nibbanam maggti gavesati maggo).

The Path has its characteristics of release, the essence of dispel ling defilements and also foundation for setting free from Samsara . Regarding the Path, there are four categories, namely, it is so called Path in the sense of release from Samsara (nissaranattho), the base for attaining Nibbana (hetuttho), of seeing Nibbana (dassanattho) and of dominance in leading to the Path of Nibbana (adhipateyattho).

The Noble Eightfold Path, therefore, is a way of life that begins with the mind and ends with the transcended. Its first requirement is Right Understanding, which means an intellectual grasp of the nature of existence. "What now is Right Understanding?" Truly, it is to understand suffering, the extinction of suffering and the Way to its extinction (D.N.22). Elsewhere it is explained that it also means the understanding of the law of moral causality, the roots of meritorious action. In Samyutta Nikaya it is also said that "When one understands that physical body, feeling, perception, the mental formation and consciousness are all Impermanent (and hence subject to suffering and devoid of selfhood), in that case also one possesses Right Understanding.

"What now is Right Intention?" Truly, it is intention that is free from greed and lust, free from ill-will, free from cruelty. It is of two kinds. Right Intention concerned with the things of this world, which expresses itself in good actions bringing good worldly results; and Right Intention directed towards the higher path of purification, which has Nibbana as its fruit."

"And what now is Right Speech? Truly, it is to avoid lying, and adhere to the Truth; to abstain from speaking ill of others and to promote harmony instead of dissension, to abstain from harsh language and cultivate gentle, courteous speech; and to avoid vain, irresponsible and foolish talk, speaking always in reasoned terms on subjects of value, such as the Dhamma of the Enlightened One."

"And what now is Right Action? Truly, it is to avoid the taking of life, to avoid theft and misappropriation, to avoid sexual intercourse with women under the protection of their father, mother, brother, sister or relatives, married women, and women under the ban of the king, engaged women and women who are the temporary wives of others. Now avoidance of killing, of theft and of sexual intercourse with the prohibited classes of women is called mundane Right Action: it results in good worldly fruits in this life or another. And the complete rejection of these actions with a pure mind intent upon the Path is deliverance - that is called transcendental Right Action and has its results in the Paths and Fruits of purification.

"And what now is Right Livelihood? Truly it is to reject wrong means of livelihood and to live by right means. A man of right livelihood therefore follows only harmless occupation without any selfish motives. He never commits himself to deceit, trickery or fraud in his living but deals only with work which is fair, just, profitable and virtuous for himself as well as for others. In his earning of a living, he avoids trading in arms, poisons, flesh, intoxicating drinks and living beings."

By living up to the above three moral principles of body and speech, the average person or ignorant worldling becomes a good or virtuous worldling (Sappurisa), because he can keep the observance of the five Precepts, namely, abstaining from killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, telling lies and indulgence in intoxicating drinks. In this way, when a person abstains from bodily and verbal vice he becomes a perfect virtuous worldling (kalyana), who has attained the stage of Purification of Morality (Sila Visuddhi).

With regard to the mental training or the state of concentration (Samadhi), there are three factors, viz. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

"And what now is Right Effort? Truly, it is the Four Great Efforts (Sammapadhana). Right Effort here means endeavouring to live a moral and blameless life. Therefore one has to practise the four principles of Right Effort, namely, the effort to prevent evil thoughts that have not yet arisen, the effort to eliminate evil thoughts that have already arisen, the effort to cultivate and develop good and beneficial states of mind which have not yet arisen, and the effort to maintain and meditate the good and beneficial states of mind which have already arisen."

"And what now is Right Mindfulness? Truly, it is the contemplation of the Body, of Feeling, of Consciousness and of Mental-objects. There, the disciple dwells in contemplation of the four Fundamentals of Mindfulness, ardent, clearly conscious and attentive, putting away worldly greed and grief It is the only way that leads to the attainment to purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief to the entering upon the right path and the realization of Nibbana "( Mahasatipatthana sutta )

"And what now is Right Concentration? Truly, it is the absorption of the mind, the fixing of the mind upon a single object: this is the Right Concentration." Being aware of mindfulness by concentrating on a single object of touch or body, sensation and consciousness, eventually the process of consciousness or mental states, so-called Mind which has been always flitting, shaking and moving about from object to object, from idea to idea, without any rest or pause, now will slowly settle down into a calm and tranquil state called the Stage of Concentration ( Samma Samadhi ).

The Path is conveniently divided into three parts, namely Right Understanding and Right Intention belonging to (Panna), Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood to (Sila) morality, and Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration to (Samadhi) concentration. Though there are three stages of attainment towards the Path and Fruition, the way of practice is the only one. i.e. the practice of in-and-out breathing, or in other words, touch and awareness of the breath at the nostrils, For instance, just by concentrating on the object of in-and-out breathing, the three stages are simultaneously fulfilled resulting in bodily and mental purity together with insight knowledge.

So in order to realize the Four Noble Truths, an aspiring person must find them out within himself, i.e., one must meditate to fully understand the true nature of the aggregate of Mind and Matter within one self. On this point, the Buddha therefore states: "In this way one fathom long body with its perception and thoughts, do I proclaim the world (of Suffering), the Origin of the world (of Suffering), the Cessation of the world (of Suffering) and the Way to the cessation of the world of suffering.

This main and interesting passage refers to the essence of the Four Noble Truths which the Buddha Himself discovered by His own Enlightened Wisdom and proclaimed to the world of all beings to search like Himself for the realization of Truths within the inner realm of them selves as that they can be released from the whirl pool of Samsara and attain the Lasting Supreme Happiness of Nibbana.

May you all be able to realize the Four Noble Truths!


Preserve this Website


" The stream of craving flows towards all sense objects; the creeper of craving arises (at the six sense-doors) and fixes itself (on the six sense objects). Seeing that creeper of craving growing, cut off its roots with Magga Insight. "

The Dhammapada

Social Bookmark

Yellow Robe Newsletter