The Four Noble Truths are the core of what unites all Buddhists. To accept the Four Noble Truths is to accept what all Buddhists, regardless of sect, or time, or geography, have built their belief system upon.

The First Noble Truth presupposes the Five Aggregates of being. The Five Skandhas, which together form what we conventionally call the “self,” or “personality,” or “I/me,” create the conditions in which attachment can occur. Desire, aversion, ignorance, hatred, fear of impermanence–all of these are borne from the five aggregates. This truth does not preclude genuine moments of awareness or feelings of true compassion. The guarantee of the first noble truth is that suffering is always at hand–whether in the moment or awaiting a temporary respite–as a product of clinging to the Five Aggregates.

The Second Noble Truth is evidence of the soil from which Buddhism grew in that it takes rebirth as a given. Through attachment to sensual experiences, to becoming, or to being annihilated, a being is bound to the cycle of rebirth. The cause of suffering, according to the Second Noble Truth, is this attachment.

The Third Noble Truth is the possibility of the end of suffering. It is a positive, affirmational truth that acknowledges a way out of suffering. Without the Third Noble Truth, the Buddha’s worldview would be pessimistic. The Third truth represents a common goal for many Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical teachings: a way out of the cycle of rebirth.

The Fourth Noble Truth is that the way out of suffering is through…


Pali: Cattāri ariyasaccāni
Sanskrit: Catvāri āryasatyāni