The 4 Noble Truths of dukkha


A critique



The accepted version





1.     ‘This, O bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering: birth is suffering; decay is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering. Presence of objects we hate is suffering; separation from objects we love is suffering; not to obtain what we desire is suffering. Briefly, the fivefold clinging to existence is suffering.’



2.     ‘This, O bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering: craving, that leads to re-birth, accompanied by pleasure and lust, finding its delight here and there. This craving is threefold, namely, craving for pleasure, craving for existence, craving for prosperity.’





3.     ‘This, O bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering: (it ceases with) the complete cessation of this craving - a cessation which consists in the absence of every passion - with the abandoning of this craving, with the doing-away with it, with the deliverance from it, with the destruction of craving.’



4.     ‘This, O bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Path which leads to the Cessation of Suffering: that holy eightfold path, that is to say, right belief, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right endeavour, right memory, right meditation.










The 4 Noble (i.e. Aryan) truths schedule was probably invented centuries after the Tathagata’s death since much of its content is redundant, non-logical and highly sel;cetive (for social engineering purposes). The first Noble Truth of the schedule actually provides a list of the causes of suffering, and which should by stated under the Truth No2 heading. In short, in this schedule Truths No 1 and No 2 are conflated.




Here craving (i.e. thirst = desire) as cause of suffering is given. This, however, does not match the more abstract and universal causes given in the 3 characteristics sutta where anicca and anatta are provided as causes. Nor does it reflect the content of the 8 characteristics sutta. Nor does it reflect the Dependent Origination schedule of causes, starting with ignorance.


See: The expanded list of the causes of dukkha



In the ‘ending of suffering’ Noble Truth the fact of cessation and the cause of cessation are conflated, a serious logical error.








Note the monumental cock-up: The 4th Noble Truth should read, ‘Ending craving (or ending the asavas) ends suffering’. However, the corrupt priest who interpolated this late, village audience oriented pitch, added the Noble 8-fold path and which was probably introduced centuries later to give a positive, therefore more attractive spin (or end) to Buddhist endeavour AND ingratiate the Sangha with its secular patrons by adding a socialising dimension to Buddhist instruction. Bhikkus were originally homeless wanderers for whom the Noble 8-fold Path was irrelevant.


The populist official 4th Noble Truth describes release from suffering by means of satisfaction (or perfection that overcomes imperfection) rather than cessation of craving (i.e. desire/clinging) (i.e. engineered either by elimination or suppression).





Further analysis


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