Buddha Statue

Buddhism's Four Noble Truths

ancient wisdom for modern times

If you're curious about Buddhist wisdom and what it has to offer you -- whether you're Buddhist or a spiritual seeker -- the Four Noble Truths are a wonderful introduction to this ancient tradition.

In these teachings, the Buddha explained why humans suffer and how we can suffer less and live more joyfully.

These audio teachings are part of a free course on the Four Noble Truths for beginners. Click the button below to start learning -- and changing your life -- today.

 

Why Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths

to give us a way to wake up fully

The Four Noble Truths lay out the basic beliefs of Buddhism: that unenlightened life will never be fully satisfactory, that we keep suffering because we keep grasping at things and situations outside ourselves, and that there’s a way out of this mess.


But you might not know the story behind the Four Noble Truths, which is the story of the Buddha – and of each of us as spiritual seekers in the 21st century. 


This video tells the story of how Prince Siddhartha renounced worldly life and became the Buddha. (In other words, the Buddha’s origin story!) The Four Noble Truths were the first teaching he gave after becoming enlightened, that is, after he woke up to the true nature of the world and of us as living beings.

 

The First Noble Truth: Unease

noticing what brings us happiness vs. unhappiness

“Life is suffering,” right? Actually, Buddhism’s message is that it doesn’t have to be. In this teaching on the first of the Four Noble Truths, we’ll talk about what the truth of dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) really means. 


The Four Noble Truths lay out the basic beliefs of Buddhism: that unenlightened life will never be fully satisfactory, that we keep suffering because we keep grasping at things and situations outside ourselves, and that there’s a way out of this mess.


More on the hedonic treadmill: https://bit.ly/3uGNOHy

 

The Second Noble Truth: Cause

unhappiness isn't our natural state; it has a cause

The second Noble Truth expresses Buddha’s teaching that the suffering we experience in life isn’t “just how things are”; it’s caused by our misunderstanding the world around us, which leads us to try to grasp onto pleasant circumstances and push away what we don’t like. 


The Four Noble Truths lay out the basic beliefs of Buddhism: that unenlightened life will never be fully satisfactory, that we keep suffering because we keep grasping at things and situations outside ourselves, and that there’s a way out of this mess.


More on Theravada Buddhism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theravada

More on Mahayana Buddhism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana

 

The Third Noble Truth: Awakening

we can return to mind's luminous nature

If, as the second Noble Truth, suffering has a cause, what happens if we stop putting that cause in motion? According to Buddha’s teachings, all suffering ends, even the most subtle wish for things to be better than they are. The third Noble Truth is called the “truth of cessation,” but it’s also a description of awakening or enlightenment.


The Four Noble Truths lay out the basic beliefs of Buddhism: that unenlightened life will never be fully satisfactory, that we keep suffering because we keep grasping at things and situations outside ourselves, and that there’s a way out of this mess.

The Four Noble Truths lay out the basic beliefs of Buddhism: that unenlightened life will never be fully satisfactory, that we keep suffering because we keep grasping at things and situations outside ourselves, and that there’s a way out of this mess.


More on Theravada Buddhism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theravada

More on Mahayana Buddhism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana

 

The Fourth Noble Truth: The path

how we transform back to our true selves

Buddhism’s Fourth Noble Truth contains the entire Buddhist path to awakening (enlightenment). It states that there’s a path from unawakened existence, in which we’re always subject to dissatisfaction, to full awakening, a state beyond the understanding of our ordinary mind.


We’ll talk about the eight steps along this path: skillful understanding, skillful thought, skillful speech, skillful action, skillful livelihood, skillful effort, skillful mindfulness, and skillful concentration.


For a link to Ven. Henepola Gunaratana’s book on the Noble Eightfold Path and others on the Four Noble Truths, click here.