Four noble truths

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The Four Noble Truths (actually the Four Noble Truths of mentally ) ( Pali Cattari ariyasaccāni, Skt. चत्वारि आर्यसत्यानि , IAST transliteration catvāri āryasatyāni , Tib. འཕགས་ པའི་ བདེན་པ་ བཞི་ , Wylie transliteration 'phags pa'i bden pa bzhi ) form the basis of Buddhist teaching. They are the core of Siddhartha Gautama's first discourse ( sutta ) in Sarnath , which has been handed down as the "speech on starting the wheel of teaching ". The Four Noble Truths are mentioned in numerous other places in the Buddhist canonical scriptures.

“It is through non-realization, through non-penetration, of the four noble truths that this long course of birth and death was carried on and lived through by me, as well as by you. What are these four?

  1. There is the noble truth about suffering ;
  2. the noble truth about the cause of suffering ;
  3. the noble truth about the ending of suffering ;
  4. and the noble truth about the path of exercise that leads to the cessation of suffering.

But now, when these have been realized and permeated, the longing for existence is cut off, destroys that which leads to renewed becoming , and there is no more fresh becoming. "

- DN16

First noble truth (dukkha)

“Life in the cycle of existence is painful: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering; Sorrow, lamentation, pain, and despair are suffering. Company with the unloved is suffering, not getting what is wanted is suffering. In short, the five appropriations are suffering. "

Dukkha is mostly translated as "suffering". Since the term “dukkha” is not exactly the same as the German term “ suffering (en)”, additional terms such as “unsatisfactory”, “imperfect” and “insufficient” are used in German-language literature.

Second noble truth (samudaya)

“And this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: the desire , which drives to further becoming , accompanied by desire and pleasure, now enjoyed here and now there, d. H. Desire for sensual pleasure , desire to become, desire not to become. "

- SN 56.11

The best-known and most generally understandable definition, as found in numerous Sanskrit texts, is as follows: “It is this 'thirst' ( tanha ) that creates new existence and rebirth and is associated with passionate greed, which here and there delights in form from:

  1. Thirst for the lusts of the six senses ( kāma -tanhā , in Buddhism six senses are considered)
  2. Thirst for existence and becoming ( bhava -tanhā)
  3. Thirst for non-existence, self-annihilation (vibhava-tanhā)

This 'thirst', this desire, addiction, this greed manifests itself in different ways and is the ostensible cause for the emergence of dukkha and for the persistence of beings. Tanhā is not the first or only cause of dukkha arising. But it is the most immediate. The 'thirst' arises from the different ideas of one self. "

The thirst here not only includes the desire for and attachment to pleasures such as wealth and power, it also includes, on a more abstract level, attachment to ideas and ideals , views, opinions , doctrines , concepts , and beliefs (dhamma-tanhā) . According to the Buddha, all unrest and quarrels in this world, from small personal quarrels in families to major wars between peoples and countries, arise only because of this selfish or non-selfish “thirst”. The cause of this incessant thirst, this need, is ignorance (avijja):

“And what is ignorance ...? Not knowing about dukkha, not knowing the origin of dukkha, not knowing about termination of dukkha, not knowing about the path that leads to termination of dukkha, this is called ignorance. "'"

- MN 9

A large number of Buddhist schools cite ignorance (skt. Avidyā , p. Avijjā ) as the original cause of suffering, which is also part of the twelve-link chain of dependent arising . Not knowing about the connectedness of all things leads to wrong perceptions and wrong actions, which according to the causal laws of karma lead to painful experiences. One of these false perceptions is the identification of an ego or self with objects in the material world.

Third Noble Truth (nirodha)

"Through the extinction (nirodha) of the causes, the suffering disappears : the complete passing away or ending, turning away, resigning, giving up and letting go of precisely this desire ( tanha ) ."

- SN 56.11

The Third Noble Truth describes the removal of suffering, and represents the conditioned chain in the opposite direction, and orientation towards liberation and thus nirvana . The Upanisa Sutta, in the Tipitaka , introduces the dependent arising of the removal of the cause of suffering, ignorance and begins with Core Cause of Suffering and the Second Noble Truth:

"... And what is their basic requirement? Ignorance (ignorance) should be said ...

Just as if gods pour rain in heavy drops and rumble thunder in the upper mountains: Fills the water, flowing down the slopes, of the mountains gaps and crevices and gullies. When the mountains are full of chasms and crevices and gullies, they fill small ponds. When the small ponds are full, they fill the large lakes. When the big lakes are full, they fill the small rivers. When the small rivers are full, they fill the big rivers. When the great rivers are full, they fill the great ocean. In the same way:

  • Designs have ignorance as their basic requirement,
  • Consciousness has forms as its basic requirement,
  • Name-and-form has consciousness as its basic requirement,
  • six sense carriers have name-and-form as their basic requirement,
  • Touch has six sense carriers as its basic requirement,
  • Feeling has touch as its basic requirement,
  • Desire has feeling as its basic requirement,
  • Holding on has desire as its basic requirement,
  • Becoming has clinging as its basic requirement,
  • Birth has becoming as its basic requirement,
  • Stress and suffering have birth as its basic requirement,

... and instead of replacing the wheel with ignorance again, trust comes into play and replaces this ignorance. This then conditions, with the elements that have been developed from the fourth noble truth, until the cause of the suffering is abolished: ignorance

  • Trust has stress and suffering as its basic requirement,
  • Joy has trust as its basic requirement,
  • Rapture has joy as its basic requirement,
  • Calmness has ecstasy as its basic requirement,
  • It is true that silence is a basic requirement
  • Concentration is a basic requirement
  • Knowledge and vision of things as they are actually present has concentration as its basic requirement,
  • Disenchantment has knowledge and vision of things as they are actually present as a basic requirement,
  • Non-desire has disillusionment as its basic requirement,
  • Liberation has non-desire as its basic requirement,
  • Knowledge of ends has liberation as its basic requirement. "

Suffering itself better of suffering always present or aware of being, is seen as the cause for the reversal of the same. So when asked what he was teaching, the Buddha replied, "In both before and now, it is only dukkha that I am explaining and the termination of dukkha."

Fourth noble truth (magga)

“And this is the noble truth about the path of exercise that leads to the cessation of suffering: that very Noble Eightfold Path, right view , right determination, right language, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right focus. "

- SN 56.11

The fourth noble truth describes the path of practice that leads to liberation. The limbs are mostly described with the terms sīla (virtue), samādhi (concentration) and paññā (wisdom) and referred to as sections of Buddhist practice.

While the first three truths are always present in this world, the fourth noble truth (the way), like the exact breakdown of the others, depends on a Buddha (Pali: sammā sambuddha , Truly Self- Awakened ), a person who is not only Has realized liberation for himself, but is also able to set out that path.

Value setting

The main streams of Buddhism today evaluate the Four Noble Truths differently. In Theravada , which refers to early Buddhism, they are considered the essential summary of Buddha's teaching. In Mahayana , the “Second Turn of the Wheel of Doctrine”, other aspects come to the fore, such as emptiness (skt. Śūnyatā ), Buddha-nature and bodhicitta . In Vajrayana , the “third rotation of the wheel of teaching”, the focus shifts to “ mind-only ” (skt. Cittamatra ) and expanded teachings of consciousness (skt. Vijñānavāda ).

Interpretations of meaning

The four noble truths are interpreted differently. In the interpretation of the German Buddhist Union (DBU; 2015.) they read:

  1. Life in the cycle of existence is ultimately painful.
  2. The causes of suffering are greed, hatred, and delusion.
  3. If the causes go out, suffering goes out.
  4. The Noble Eightfold Path leads to the extinction of suffering .

The religious scholar Michael von Brück compares Buddhist and Christian beliefs in detail. In contrast to the Christian understanding of suffering, “not existence as such, but man's wrong attitude towards existence is dukkha ”. Dukkha is therefore not simply "suffering", but "the frustration that your own conceptual projections are not correct."

See also


  • Klaus Mylius (Ed.): The Four Noble Truths. Original Buddhist texts . Bechtermünz Verlag, Augsburg 2000, ISBN 3-8289-4843-X .
  • Dalai Lama: The Four Noble Truths. The basics of Buddhism . Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-8105-1137-4 .
  • Alfred Weil: Dawn and bright day. The four liberating truths of the Buddha . Verlag Beyerlein & Steinschulte, 2006, ISBN 978-3-931095-61-1 .
  • Gen Breath: The Four Noble Truths. An Introduction to Buddhism . Vier Jahreszeiten Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-03300610-2 .
  • Geshe Gyatso Kelsang: How we solve our problems. The four noble truths . Tharpa, 2005, ISBN 978-3-908543-22-0 .
  • Hans Küng: Buddhism . In: Searching for traces, the world religions on the way . tape 4 . Piper, 2008, ISBN 978-3-492-25167-9 .
  • Gonsar Rinpoche (ed.): Buddha's first instruction. The four noble truths . Edition Rabten, 2007, ISBN 978-3-905497-52-6 .
  • Frank Zechner: The four noble truths of the Buddha. Introduction to Buddhism . OCTOPUS Verlag, Vienna 2005, ISBN 978-3-900290-00-9 .
  • Nyanatiloka: The way to salvation. In the words of the Buddhist scriptures . 1954 ( [accessed on May 10, 2009]).

Web links

Source texts

Related Links

Individual evidence

  1. Breaking Through In: The Four Noble Truths.
  2. Source text in the Pali Canon: Geiger, Wilhelm [trans.]; Hecker, Hellmuth [transl.]; Mahâthera, Nyânaponika [transl.]; (Gautama, Buddha [author]): The Buddha's Speeches: Grouped Collection . Beyerlein and Steinschulte, Stammbach, 1997. ISBN 978-3-931095-16-1
  3. Second Noble Truth , SN 56.11, Path to Freedom ZzE
  4. Forms of Self and Not-Self The Buddhist Teachings on Anatta by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
  5. Sammaditthi Sutta: The Discourse on Right View , MN9 Ñanamoli Thera & Bhikkhu Bodhi, translated into German.
  6. Basic requirements SN 12.23 , Bhikkhu Thanissaro (German translation on ZzE)
  7. Anuradha Sutta: An Anuradha , SN 22.86 by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, translated into German on ZzE
  8. Fourth Noble Truth , SN 56.11, Path to Freedom ZzE
  9. German Buddhist Union e. V .: Buddhist creed . Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  10. Michael von Brück, Whalen Lai: Buddhism and Christianity. History, confrontation, dialogue. Verlag CH Beck, Munich, 2000. ISBN 3-406-46796-2 , p. 370 ff.