What are they? Where are they found in the literature? Are there any significant differences in them among the traditions?
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Here is a version from the Triratna site
Dukkha is commonly translated as suffering but the translation that I find more useful is unsatisfactoriness. The original meaning comes from an ill fitting chariot wheel. A bumpy ride if you will.
The formulation is related to a medical diagnosis e.g.
As far as I am aware the 4 Noble Truths are a central teaching in Buddhism perhaps comparable to the divinity of Christ for Christian's (controversial comparison maybe). I have not heard of any significant variations. I would be very interested to hear if they were any.
1. What are they?
They are the diagnosis, description, prognosis & prescription for emotional suffering, distress and dissatisfaction.
2. Where are they found in the literature?
The most succinct & direct description is found in the Discourse on Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion (SN 56.11, Dhammacakkappavattana-suttaṃ).
However, the most detailed description is found in one of the sections of the Greater Discourse on Establishing Mindfulness (DN 22, Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-suttaṃ) & the Discourse on the Dissection of the Truths (MN 141, Saccavibhaṅga-suttaṃ).
Even though these discourses are the most explicit, the four truths are found throughout the whole Pāḷi Canon.
3. Are there any significant differences in them among the traditions?
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, craving as a cause for suffering is just an abbreviation for a list of causes, craving being the first cause in the list:
Here's the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (SN 56.11), supposedly the earliest occurence of the FNT in the Canon:
According to the Saccavibhanga Sutta translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
According to the Tittha Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, the second and third noble truths are related to the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.
"The Four Truths of The Nobles" are a formulaic summary of Buddha's Awakening. They are easier understood in context of Three Characteristics of Existence:
Now, instead of being a helpless victim caught in this universal trap, let us take master's stance, as was Buddha's habit:
Whatever comes together, can be broken apart. Therefore, whatever is conditional (depends on multiple factors coming together), can be controlled. Because all subjective experiences are conditional, they can all be controlled. This includes experience of
The way I explain the Four Noble Truths to non-Buddhists is:
The Four Noble Truths