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Here I have simply coloured each sentence in the lede violet if it is cited to a Western academic scholar and red if cited to an Eastern sutra tradition scholar. If cited to both, uncited, or unsure what the cite is, then I leave it black. I have made no attempt to evaluate whether the statements are western academic or sutra tradition in flavour, this is just to show the tendencies in choice of WP:RS. It's of course much easier to do that than to evaluate the actual slant of each sentence and even more so to explain that slant to someone and the reason for your choice.

The old lede has notes with a long list of quotes that consist of roughly equal numbers of Western and Eastern academics - for those sections I have left them black as NPOV.

It would be possible to go through both articles in their entirety in the same way. Many later sections would be almost entirely red in the old article and almost entirely violet in the new version.

New version[edit | hide | hide all]


The Four Noble Truths (Sanskrit: catvari aryasatyani; Pali: cattari ariyasaccani) are "the truths of the Noble Ones,"[1] the truths or realities which are understood by the "worthy ones"[web 1] who have attained Nirvana.[2][web 1] The truths are dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, and the path leading to the cessation of dukkha.

In the sutras, the four truths have both a symbolic and a propositional function.[3]They represent the awakening and liberation of the Buddha, but also the possibility of liberation for all sentient beings, describing how release from craving is to be reached.[4] In the Pali canon, the four truths appear in a "network of teachings,"[5]as part of "the entire dhamma matrix,"[6]which have to be taken together.[5]They provide a conceptual framework for introducing and explaining Buddhist thought, which has to be personally understood or "experienced".[7][8] [9][web 2][10][note 1]

The four truths defy an exact definition, but refer to and express the basic orientation of Buddhism[11] in a formulaic expression:[12][note 2]we crave and cling to impermanent states and things,[13] which is dukkha,[14]"incapable of satisfying"[web 3] and painful.[web 3][13][15][16][17][web 2] This craving keeps us caught in samsara,[note 3] the endless cycle of repeated rebirth and dying again, and the dukkha that comes with it.[note 4] But there is a way to end this cycle and reach real happiness,[18][note 5]namely by letting go of this craving and attaining nirvana, whereafter rebirth and dissatisfaction will no longer arise again.[note 6][19] This can be accomplished by following the eightfold path,[note 2]restraining oneself, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation.[20][21]

The function of the four truths, and their importance, developed over time, when prajna, or "liberating insight," came to be regarded as liberating in itself,[22][8] instead of or in addition to the practice of dhyana.[22]This "liberating insight" gained a prominent place in the sutras, and the four truths came to represent this liberating insight, as part of the enlightenment story of the Buddha.[23][24]

The four truths became of central importance in the Theravada tradition,[25][26] which holds to the idea that insight into the four truths is liberating in itself.[27] They are less prominent in the Mahayana tradition, which sees the higher aims of insight into sunyata and following the Bodhisattva-path as a central elements in their teachings and practice.[28]The Mahayana tradition reinterpreted the four truths to explain how a liberated being can still be "pervasively operative in this world."[29]Beginning with the exploration of Buddhism by western colonialists in the 19th century and the development of Buddhist modernism, they came to be often presented in the west as the central teaching of Buddhism.[30][31]

old version[edit | hide]


The Four Noble Truths (Sanskrit: catvari aryasatyani; Pali: cattari ariyasaccani) are regarded as the central doctrine of the Buddhist tradition, and are said to provide a conceptual framework for all of Buddhist thought. These four truths explain the nature of dukkha (Pali; commonly translated as "suffering", "anxiety", "unsatisfactoriness"[lower-alpha 1]), its causes, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation.

The four noble truths are:[lower-alpha 2]

  1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness[lower-alpha 1])
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha

The first noble truth explains the nature of dukkha. Dukkha is commonly translated as “suffering”, “anxiety”, “unsatisfactoriness”, “unease”, etc., and it is said to have the following three aspects:[lower-alpha 3]

  • The obvious physical and mental suffering associated with birth, growing old, illness and dying.
  • The anxiety or stress of trying to hold on to things that are constantly changing.
  • A basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all forms of existence, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. On this level, the term indicates a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.

The central importance of dukkha in Buddhist philosophy has caused some observers to consider Buddhism to be a pessimistic philosophy. However, the emphasis on dukkha is not intended to present a pessimistic view of life, but rather to present a realistic practical assessment of the human condition—that all beings must experience suffering and pain at some point in their lives, including the inevitable sufferings of illness, aging, and death.[37] Contemporary Buddhist teachers and translators emphasize that while the central message of Buddhism is optimistic, the Buddhist view of our situation in life (the conditions that we live in) is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic.[lower-alpha 4]

The second noble truth is that the origin of dukkha can be known. Within the context of the four noble truths, the origin of dukkha is commonly explained as craving or thirst (Pali: tanha) conditioned by ignorance (Pali: avijja). On a deeper level, the root cause of dukkha is identified as ignorance (avijja) of the true nature of things. The third noble truth is that the complete cessation of dukkha is possible, and the fourth noble truth identifies a path to this cessation.

According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha first taught the four noble truths in the very first teaching he gave after he attained enlightenment, as recorded in The Discourse That Sets Turning the Wheel of Truth (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta), and he further clarified their meaning in many subsequent teachings.[lower-alpha 5]

The two main traditions of Buddhism, the Theravada and Mahayana, have different approaches to learning about the four noble truths and putting them into practice. The Theravada tradition strongly emphasizes reading and contemplating The Discourse That Sets Turning the Wheel of Truth—the first discourse of the Buddha—as a method of study and practice. In the Mahayana tradition, practitioners are more likely to learn about the four noble truths through studying various Mahayana commentaries, and less likely to study the first discourse directly. The Mahayana commentaries typically present the four noble truths in the context of the Mahayana path of the bodhisattva.[38]

  1. Williams 2002, p. 41.
  2. Warder 1999, p. 67.
  3. Anderson 1999, pp. 223-231.
  4. Anderson 1999, p. 56.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anderson 2001, p. 85.
  6. Anderson 2001, p. 86.
  7. Bronkhorst 1993.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Anderson 1999.
  9. Makransky 1997, p. 27-28.
  10. Gethin 1998, p. 60.
  11. Gethin 1998, p. 59.
  12. Norman 2003.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Nyanatiloka 1980, p. 65.
  14. Khantipalo 2003, p. 41.
  15. Emmanuel 2015, p. 30.
  16. Williams 2002, p. 74-75.
  17. Lopez 2009, p. 147.
  18. Warder 2000, p. 45-46.
  19. Buswell & Lopez 2003, p. 304.
  20. Raju 1985, p. 147–151.
  21. Eliot 2014, p. 39–41.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Bronkhorst 1993, p. 99-100, 102-111.
  23. Gombrich 1997, p. 99-102.
  24. Bronkhorst 1993, p. 93-111.
  25. Anderson 1999, p. 55-56.
  26. Anderson 1999, p. 230-231.
  27. Carter 1987, p. 3179.
  28. Carter 1987, p. 3179-3180.
  29. Makransky 1997, p. 346-347.
  30. Harris 2006, p. 72-73.
  31. Anderson 2001, p. 196.
  32. Dhamma 1997, p. 55.
  33. Buswell 2003, Volume One, p. 296.
  34. Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 246-250.
  35. Goldstein 2002, p. 24.
  36. Epstein 2004, p. 42.
  37. Gethin 1998, p. 61.
  38. Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 275-280.

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