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I seem to have only a rough understanding of the first two noble truths.

dukkha and dosa

Apparently 'dukkha' and 'aversion (dosa)' are not the same thing. So, why or how not: in what way are they different/distinct?

second noble truth

Also, does naming aversion as one of the 'three poisons' imply that aversion is on a par with (i.e., is equal and opposite to) desire? If it's true that aversion is of the same rank as desire then why isn't aversion mentioned in the Second Noble Truth?

taṇhā and lobha

Similarly (in case it's a similar answer) what's the difference between taṇhā (which is the subject of the second noble truth) and lobha (which is one of the three poisons)?

attachment and desire

In English I'd guess that 'attachment' and 'desire' might have two different meanings: especially, attachment is semi-permanent, may last a longer time.

If you're hungry, eat, and then are not hungry, maybe that was a transient desire but not attachment. Conversely, a story like Muddy Road (it's the story which ends, '"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"') seems to be warning against attachment (i.e. keeping the same thought stuck in your mind for a long time even after the physical reality has changed) rather than desire. Other stories too seem to warn that it's no so much 'desire' that causes suffering, but rather some kind of inflexibility.

Does Buddhism distinguish between attachment and desire? If lobha is translated as attachment and as desire, then which is taṇhā?

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Dukkha and Dosa are quite different things. Dukkha is the characteristic of being unable to give real satisfaction, and it is an attribute of all compounded things. Or in some contexts it can refer to physical or mental pain. In contrast Dosa means something like anger or hatred.

Before going any further into your question though I have to make some distinctions. The word desire in English is used in translations and is sometimes used as a translation of the word Tanha, which means craving. However, that's somewhat of a loose translation because not all desires are bad. The Pali word for desire in a general sense is the word chanda, which can mean desire, will, or wish, and includes both good and bad desires. In fact, in Buddhist texts the word chanda is usually used to mean positive desires like desiring to benefit others or to develop one's self. Anyhow, back to the rest of your question.

You are right that Dosa forms a pair. Dosa (hatred, anger, aversion) forms a pair with Lobha (greed, lust, etc...) and Tanha is a specific kind of Lobha. The reason why Tanha is mentioned in the Second Noble Truth but Dosa isn't is because one aspect of the Second Noble Truth is that it is about rebirth, and Tanha plays a direct role in rebirth (this is explained in dependent origination) but Dosa doesn't.

The word for attachement is the word Upādāna which also can mean clinging or grasping. Upādāna is a very specific term while Lobha is a general one. Upādāna refers to the mind trying to hold on to something, but Lobha is just the general wanting of something. In dependent origination you will see that Upādāna occurs just after Tanha.

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I would suggest for you the book "What The Buddha Taught" by Dr. Walpola Rahula.

It's a short (65 pages) and great book doing a good job explaining the 4 noble truths. There is a lot of precise and insightful knowledge in it and i think it will serve to give you a fuller understanding of the 4 noble truths.

Dr. Walpola Rahula explains the buddhist attitude of mind, the 4 noble truths and the doctrine of anatta.

You can find the book here.

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