Four Noble Truths

From AnthroWiki
Siddhartha Gautama (or Buddha Shakyamuni - The Sage from the lineage of Shakya) proclaimed the doctrine of the "Four Noble Truths."

The Four Noble Truths (Pali: cattāri ariyasāccani, Sanskrit: catvāri āryasatyāni "The four Arya satyas") form the core of the Buddha's teaching. They are the subject of his first doctrinal discourse, the Sermon of Benares, and with it begins the "turning of the wheel of teaching" (Dharmacakrapravartana).

The Four Noble Truths at a Glance

The First Noble Truth - All Existence is Sorrowful (Dukkha)

Dukkha - Life in the cycle of existence is ultimately suffering. Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain and despair are suffering. Companionship with the unloved is suffering; not getting what is wanted is suffering. In short, the five accumulations (skt. skandha, p. khandhah) are sufferings.

The Second Noble Truth - The Cause of Suffering (Samudaya)

Samudaya - Causes of suffering are greed, hatred and delusion and not knowing (skt. avidyā, p. avijjā). Desire/thirst (skt. trisnā, p. tanhā) leading to rebirth - accompanied by passion or delight, enjoyed just here and just there - namely, desire for sense pleasure, desire for becoming, desire for not becoming.

The Renewal of Buddhism through the Christ Impulse

Reincarnation and karma, which are of great importance for the teachings of Buddhism and also most other Eastern religions, have so far been largely ignored in Christianity, but according to Rudolf Steiner they will in future have a central position here too, albeit in a more developed form. They will then no longer be seen primarily as the source of all suffering, but as an opportunity for higher development.

„For the one who really understands the Christ Impulse, the truth of repeated earth lives presents itself in a different way than for the follower of the Buddha. Buddha emphasised the fact of repeated earth lives again and again. He placed before humanity his so-called "four noble truths": Birth is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, not being united with what one loves, and being united with what one does not love is suffering. - To become free from the karma of having to descend again and again from the spiritual into an earthly body, to become free as soon as possible from the urge to exist, to become free from the urge to embody oneself: that is the impulse of the Buddha teaching. In the Buddha teaching, the doctrine of re-embodiment confronts us unilaterally. The Buddha teaching does not have the impulse to put into the human soul that which continues to work through the successive re-embodiments and always awakens new and new forces in the individual human being. Spiritual science, however, modern theosophy, sees in the Christ-impulse that which strikes into the human soul, that which seizes, educates and develops the will, that which so works in the soul that when it is touched by the Christ-impulse in one embodiment, it revives in the next embodiment in a new way, that the Christ-impulse works into the next embodiment. And because it works into it, this soul can unfold its powers, which are increased by the power of the Christ-impulse, developed to even higher heights [...]

The Buddhist religion is rightly called a religion of salvation. The Christian religion is not a religion of redemption, but a religion of resurrection. That which the Christ exemplified for us in the Mystery of Golgotha with the overcoming of death through the spirit, is repeated again and again when we are resurrected in a new embodiment, fertilised by the Christ-impulse.“ (Lit.:GA 69c, p. 29f)

The Third Noble Truth - The Extinction of Suffering (Nirodha)

Nirodha - Causes cease, suffering ceases. The complete cessation or ending, turning away, resigning, giving up and letting go of that very desire (tanha).

The fourth noble truth - The path to the extinction of suffering

Magga - The Noble Eightfold Path leads to the extinction of suffering. The eight stages of this path are: Right View, Right Determination, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood/Acquisition, Right Effort, Right Attention/Mindfulness, Right Concentration. Magga is also called the Middle Way (PaliMajjhimāpaṭipadā; SanskritMadhyamāpratipada) because it avoids two extremes: first, the search for happiness in sense enjoyment, which is low, mean and unprofitable and is considered the path of the common man. And secondly, the search for happiness in self-torture through various forms of asceticism, which is painful, unworthy and also not profitable.


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.