Four Noble Truths

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Buddha Turning the Wheel of Dharma for the first time

The Four Noble Truths (Skt. catvāryāryasatyā; Tib. pakpé denpa shyi; Wyl. 'phags pa'i bden pa bzhi) or the Four Realities of the Aryas, were taught by Buddha Shakyamuni as the central theme of the so-called first turning of the wheel of the Dharma after his attainment of enlightenment. They are:

  • the truth (or reality) of suffering (Skt. duḥkha-satya) which is to be understood,
  • the truth (or reality) of the origin of suffering (Skt. samudaya-satya), which is to be abandoned,
  • the truth (or reality) of cessation (Skt. nirodha-satya), which is to be actualized, and
  • the truth (or reality) of the path (Skt. mārga-satya), which is to be relied upon.

Cause & Effect

The four truths can be divided into two pairs of cause and effect, known as the cause and effect of 'thorough affliction' (Skt. saṃkliṣṭa; Wyl. kun nyon) or samsara, and the cause and effect of 'complete purification' (Skt. vyavadāna; Wyl. rnam byang) or nirvana.

Sixteen Aspects of the Four Noble Truths

1. Suffering (Skt. duḥkha; Tib. སྡུག་བསྔལ་བ་)
2. Impermanence (Skt. anitya; Tib. མི་རྟག་པ་)
3. Emptiness (Skt. śūnyatā; Tib. སྟོང་པ་ཉིད་)
4. Selflessness (Skt. anātmaka; Tib. བདག་མེད་པ་)

5. Cause (Skt. hetu; Tib. རྒྱུ་)
6. Origination (Skt.samudaya; Tib. ཀུན་འབྱུང་)
7. Intense Arising (Skt. prabhava; Tib. རབ་སྐྱེ་)
8. Condition (Skt. pratyaya; Tib. རྐྱེན་)

9. Peace (Skt. śānta; Tib. ཞི་བ་)
10. Cessation (Skt. nirodha; Tib. འགོག་པ་)
11. Perfection (Skt. praṇīta; Tib. གྱ་ནོམ་པ་)
12. True Deliverance (Skt. niḥsaraṇa; Tib. ངེས་འབྱུང་, Wyl. nges 'byung)

13. Path (Skt. mārga; Tib. ལམ་)
14. Appropriate (Skt. nyāya; Tib. རིགས་པ་)
15. Effective (Skt. pratipatti; Tib. སྒྲུབ་པ་)
16. Truly Delivering (Skt. nairyāṇika; Tib. ངེས་འབྱིན་)

Further Reading

  • Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, Gateway to Knowledge, VOL II (Hong Kong, Boudhanath & Esby: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2000).
  • Kangyur Rinpoche, Treasury of Precious Qualities (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2001), pages 67-84 & 'Appendix 3'.
  • Ringu Tulku, Daring Steps Towards Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Buddhism, Snow Lion, 2005
  • Appendix 2, pp.167-168 in ‘The Light of Wisdom’ Volume 1. Root text by Padmasambhava and commentary by Jamgön Kongtrül the Great. Published by Shambhala Publications ISBN 0-87773-566-2

External Links