The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths

The heart of the Buddha’s teaching lies in the Four Noble Truths (Cattāri Ariyasaccāni) which he expounded in his very first sermon[38] to his old colleagues, the five ascetics, at Isipatana (modern Sarnath) near Benares. In this sermon, as we have it in the original texts, these four Truths are given briefly. But there are innumerable places in the early Buddhist scriptures where they are explained again and again, with greater detail and in different ways. If we study the Four Noble Truths with the help of these references and explanations, we get fairly good and accurate account of the essential teachings of the Buddha according to the original texts.

The Four Noble Truths are:

1. Dukkha[39]

2. Samudaya, the arising or origin of dukkha

3. Nirodha, the cessation of dukkha

4. Magga, the way leading to the cessation of dukkha


[38] Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta ‘Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth’. Mhvg. (Alutgama, 1922), p. 9 ff; S V (PTS). p. 420 ff.

[39] I do not wish to give an equivalent in English for this term for reasons given below.