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A Glimpse of Theravada Buddhist Teaching
Ven. S. M. Sujano



 “That both I and you have had to travel and trudge through

this long round is owing to our not discovering,

not penetration four truths. What are the four? They are:

The Noble Truth of Suffering,

The Noble Truth of the origin of Suffering,

The Noble truth of the Cessation of Suffering,

and The Noble Truth of the way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.”

(Digha Nikaya, Sutta 16)



The prince Siddharth Gotama from Kapilavatthu of modern Nepal, who renounced the world at the age of 29 after a luxurious and sensual life and became enlightened one at the age of 35, introduced the Buddhism to the world approximately 2600 years ago for happiness and benefit of all beings.  He preached his doctrine 45 years in various ways and different places, but all the doctrines of Buddha is include in the discourse of the 1st sermon in Saranath that is Dhammacakkappavatana Sutra. Buddha himself claimed that he teach only two doctrines that are Dukkha and how to overcome Dukkha or known as the Four Noble Truth.


Therefore, the Dhammaca-kkappavatana sutra is the main discourse for the Buddhist. Especially, this discourse is known as the Theravada Buddhism in other hand. This is one of the large discourses of the Dighanikaya the first Nikaya of Suttantapitaka.


The important points of this discourse are:

1. There are two extremes:

1. Sensual indulgence = Give up the pleasures of sense which is low, vulgar worldly, unworthy and harmful.

2. Self-Mortification = which is painful, unworthy, and harmful.

The Buddha practiced these two extremes before he became an enlightened one.

  1. The first extreme Sensual Indulgence (Kama sukhallikanuyoga) was practiced during his luxurious life of pleasure as Prince Siddhattha in the palace.

  2. The second extreme Self – Mortification (Attakilamathanuyoga) was practiced after renounced the world at the age of 29 to 35 for 6 years. He couldn’t find the solution of suffering. He only experienced too much pain and suffer and nearly to die. He gave up these two ways of practice at the end.

2. The middle Path

The Buddha avoided these two extremes and found out the middle path or Noble Eightfold Path at the age of 35, which led to vision, knowledge, peace, higher wisdom, enlightenment, and Nibbana.  He realized the natural truth.


The Four Noble Truths or Catu Ariyasacca consists of Dukkha (Suffering), Dukkha Samudaya (Cause of Suffering), Dukkha Nirodha (Cessation of Suffering) and Magga (The way leading to end of Suffering). Once he realized these natural phenomenons, he became an enlightened one and called him as Buddha or Sammasambuddha, one who fulfilled or awakened.

1. Right View (Understanding)       (Samma ditthi)

2. Right thought (Aspiration)          (Samma sankappa)

3. Right speech                              (Samma vaca)

4. Right Action                                (Samma Kammanta)        

5. Right Livelihood                          (Samma ajiva)

6. Right effort                                  (Samma vayama)

7. Right mindfulness                       (Samma sati)

8. Right concentration                    (Samma samdhi)

These are the main teachings of the Buddha. This eightfold noble path can group in three sections as: Right View and Right Thought categorized into Wisdom or Panna; Right Speech, Action and Livelihood categorized into Morality or Sila; and Right Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration categorized into concentration or Samadhi. The Buddha had practiced this Eightfold path for his attain the Enlightenment.

Therefore, the whole Buddhism speaks only two ways of practice and the result of practiced them; two extreme ways of searching for salvation and middle way leading to salvation.


The first was practice by the people for many centuries and is still practice in the present days. The Buddha said to avoid this way or not to follow those kinds of precepts and Dhamma (Nasevitabba). These are not for the Ariya or noble men and low, for villager, ordinary and not lead to attain highest goal of life. From leading these two ways kamasukhallikanuyogo and Attakilamathanuyogo one can get little happiness but more are the Dukkha (Suffering, Un-satisfactoriness).

The second way is called middle path, Atthangikamagga, is leading to the salvation, which lead to goodness and benefit of all. The middle path known as the Main doctrine of Buddhism and the way for achieving ultimate truth called Nibbana.

Truth or Sacca in Buddhism can divided into 2 parts, are:

  1. Sammuti Sacca (Conventional truth) is something is not true or not real and is deniable. Things or Names are known by some words that real for that society or group which is not common or can change is called sammuti sacca. (Ex. Boy, Girl etc).

  2. Paramattha Sacca (Ultimate truth) is something that is true, as it never disappear from the world or is undeniable. The common things for all the time or nicca are never changeable, ex. Birth, Death or Dukkha (The Four Noble Truth) etc.

3. The Four Noble Truths (Catuariyasacca):

1. Dukkha (Suffering, Un-satisfactoriness)

2. Dukkha Samudaya (Cause of Suffering or Un-satisfactoriness)

3. Dukkha Nirodha  (Cessation of Suffering or Un-satisfactoriness)

4. Dukkha Nirodha Gaminipatipada  (The way to leading to Cessation of Suffering or Un-satisfactoriness)

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1. The Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Saccam)


Suffering is simple translation of Pali word ‘Dukkha’ but not cover all meaning of it. The first Noble Truth of suffering is birth, aging, disease, and death is suffering. Dissociation from the loved conjoined with dislike and not to get what one want is suffering: in short the five aggregates (Khandhas) categories matter, feeling, perception, tendencies and consciousness are suffering.

There is 12 kind of Dukkha that can divide into 2 (4+8) part that is:

  1. Natural suffering or Physical suffering (Sabhava Dukkha) is in everybody. Birth, aging and death are common to everyone. The suffering from disease is not mention in Pali canon, but is mentioned in non- canonical or commentary Buddhist literature.  Therefore, natural sufferings mean birth, aging, decay and death in Buddhist view.

  2. Unnatural suffering (Pakinnaka Dukkha) is sufferings, which is like a visitor in Human life. There are 8 kinds of suffering which is unnatural suffering human face, namely:

1. Soka                                                = sorrow

2. Parideva                                         = lamentation or wailing

3. Dukkha                                            = not welling of body or physical suffering.

4. Domanassa                                     = Mental suffering, grief

5. Upayasa                                          = Despair with others

6. Appiye sampayogo                          = Conjoining with dislike things.

7. Piye vippayogo                               = missing with like and loving things

8. Ecchavighata                                  = not to get what one wants to have


The Noble truth of Suffering with its three aspects is:

        1. There is suffering (Dukkha)

        2. Suffering (Dukkha) should be understood

        3. Suffering (Dukkha) has been understood

One, who understood Dukkha as its true nature, is called an Ariya or a Noble one. Therefore, Dukkha is noble truth (Dukkham Ariya saccam), which is true and has to be understood.

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2. The origin of Suffering (Dukkha Samudaya)


The second Noble truth is the craving of suffering or birth. Someone, who has understood the nature of the Dukkha, he/she automatically, knows the cause of suffering. According to Buddhist view there are nothing which comes without cause. Every thing is inter-dependent. Therefore, birth is connected with sufferings and birth is one of the main causes. The root of birth comes from craving kaama that can divide into 3 terms, as:

1. Craving for sensuality (kamatanha) or craving for sensual desires. Can divide into two forms that are:

  • Kileshkama mean evil passion or defilement is cause of craving sensuality, which can divide into 5 factors; lust or attachment, greed or covetousness, unsatisfactory of someone’s success, jealousy, unsatisfactory on things which ones have.

  • Vatthukama means that beautiful things are the cause of craving kamma, which can divide into 5 factors. Namely: Matter, Feeling, perception, tendencies, consciousness

2. Craving for existence (bhavatanha) or craving for being, which means want to be someone or something but not to want some things? e.g. want to be a good person or want to be good businessman etc.

3. Craving for annihilation (vibhavatanha) or craving for non- being, means not to want to be and not want any things, e.g. does not want to be an incomplete person or lame.

The Noble truth of Origin of Suffering with its three aspects is:

    1. There is the origin of suffering which is the attachment to desire.

    2. Desire should be let go of

    3. Desire has been let go of


3. The Noble truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha)


The Third Noble truth is the remainder less fading and cessation of that same craving, the rejecting, relinquishing, leaving and renouncing of it. We can say that the Noble truth of cessation of suffering is super wisdom, which conquerors three kinds of craving or Tanha. Abandoning of this all craving means to achieve Enlightenment and Nibbana.


Nibbana means there has no any single sinfulness, defilement or evil passion (Kilesh) in mind. Kilesh or mara is synonyms. Mara means the killer of virtues or obstruction, evil one. Mara divided into 5 factors:

1. Khandhamara                                    = five aggregate is obstruction of goodness

2. Kileshmara                                         = greed, hatred and delusion

3. Maccumara                                        = the god of death

4. Devaputtamara                                  = the evil devas

5. Abhisankharamara                            = bad actions


The third Noble Truth with its three aspects is:

1. There is the cessation of suffering, of Dukkha

2. The cessation of Dukkha should be released

3. The cessation of Dukkha has been released

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4. The path leading to the cessation of suffering (Magga)


The Forth-Noble Truth is also known as Nirodhagamini patipada or Magga in Pali literature.  ‘Maram maddanto gacchati ti maggo” or way for destroys all kinds of obstacles so called Magga. The way for cessation of suffering is known as Eightfold Noble truth or eight noble ways for attaining enlightenment. It is known as majjhima patipada or the middle path, which consist of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

The Fourth Noble Truth, like the first three, has three aspects is:

           1.     There is the Eightfold Path– the way out of suffering. 

           2.     This Path should be developed.

           3.     This Path has been fully developed.

The Buddha’s main teachings are in these two factors that are the Eightfold Path or known as the Middle Path and The Four Noble Truths. The Eightfold Path is the way for attaining the Four Noble Truths, which is common for everybody. The Buddha only discovers the way to achieve enlightenment that the Eightfold Path. The Buddha himself used to say that The Four Noble Truths is exist in the world, even before the Buddha was born, the Buddha discovered the way to leading for Nibbana and preached it for those who wish to practice. He is only the great teacher for human being, and they have to follow him goodness and happiness. That’s why; we can say that Theravada Buddhism is the Eightfold Path, which is already mentioned above.




“Oh! Bhikkhus, the things that I have known by direct knowledge are more;

the things  that I have told you are only a few…

that is Four Noble Truth”

[Samyutta Nikaya, LVI, 31]


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