Concise Summary of the Four Noble Truths UPDATED

I would like to see people’s summary of the four noble truths in just four sentences, without elaboration. I’m especially eager to see how monastics here frame them.

  • I’m thinking in the style of the format below. These are from Encyclopedia of Buddhism and are simply contemporary glosses used for format examples.

Lama Surya Das summarizes the four noble truths as follows:

  1. The First Noble Truth: Life is difficult.
  2. The Second Noble Truth: Life is difficult because of attachment, because we crave satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying
  3. The Third Noble Truth: The possibility of liberation from difficulties exists for everyone.
  4. The Fourth Noble Truth: The way to realize this liberation and enlightenment is by leading a compassionate life of virtue, wisdom, and meditation. These three spiritual trainings comprise the teachings of the Eight-fold Path to Enlightenment.

Damien Keown presents the essential meaning of the four truths as follows:

  1. life is suffering,
  2. suffering is caused by craving,
  3. suffering can have an end, and
  4. there is a path which leads to the end of suffering.

Ajahn Sumedho presents the following summary of the four truths:[93]

  1. there is suffering;
  2. there is a cause or origin of suffering;
  3. there is an end of suffering; and
  4. there is path out of suffering which is the Eightfold Path.

Mingyur Rinpoche summarizes these insights as follows:

  1. Ordinary life is conditioned by suffering;
  2. Suffering results from causes;
  3. The causes of suffering can be extinguished;
  4. There is a simple path through which the causes of suffering can be extinguished.

This is arahant Assaji’s summary of the 4NT:

“Of causally arisen things,
The Buddha has declared their cause,
As well as their ending.
This is the teaching of the Great Ascetic.”

‘Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā,
Tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha;
Tesañca yo nirodho,
Evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo’”ti.

1 Like


(some text to reach the minimum required words to post)


Concise summary of the four noble truths in the ‘three-turned, twelvefold’ (tiparivaṭṭaṃ dvādasākāraṃ), SN 56.11 (each truth in three ways) = SA 379 (the four truths in each way):

Page 237 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (60.6 KB)

Which teaching is correct?

1 Like
  1. Dukkha
  2. Samudaya
  3. Nirodha
  4. Magga

That’s from the Pali canon itself.


The act of clinging is stressful and causes suffering, and any conditioned thing has some inherent stress. Pleasant and painful feelings cause craving, and this craving causes suffering, and by not deeply understanding (ignorance) this link we create (fabricate) our own suffering. This craving can be made to cease, and the result is the lack of any psychological suffering in this life, and the lack of any conditioned things in future lives which would have inherent suffering. The noble eightfold path will lead to the end of craving, and this the end of suffering.

That’s four sentences, but I did cheat a little bit and use compound sentences!

1 Like

[1] Sentient beings suffer perpetual discontent…
[2] Due to seeking perpetual contentment in the ephemeral.
[3] Uncouple your contentment from the ephemeral…
[4] By cultivating:
(1) Ethics- beneficial and harmless {1} speech, {2} action and
{3} livelihood.
(2) Focus - a judicious level of energy directed towards {4}
effort, {5} present moment awareness/returning
from being lost in thought and {6} focus.
(3) Wisdom - {7} recollect truth and {8} embrace it.

My fabrications:

  • causes and conditions rule, I hate it. It is painful to be without control, not ruling
  • I want to rule and I demand control
  • cessation of ego related will
  • Path to cessation of ego related will


  • Pure heartedness makes life difficult. It leads to confusion. Inner conflict.
  • We are all born pure-hearted. That is our birthright. But the world does not appreciate pure heartedness and often we ourselves do not see it
  • Pure heartedness is not cause anymore for suffering and confusion and does not make our life difficult, but has become a real joy, a great treasure, a wish fulfilling jewel.
  • we take the Path that turns pure-heartedness, our real self, from a cause of suffering into a cause of bliss. In stead of something that confuses us, it becomes wisdom


  • Life does not care and that is painful to notice
  • we care and that is painful to feel
  • we care but also do not care
  • we enter the Path that leads to a realistic balanced way of living and caring

I most like the idea of the pure heartedness that is for most people the real cause of confusion and suffering. Our birthright is the main cause of suffering. Because there almost seems to be no place for pure heartedness in the world. It is beyond good and bad. Beyond partiallity. Beyond like and dislike.
It is not like the world enjoys it. Not even our parents, best friends, our kings, our government, our teachers etc. There seems to be almost no place for our true self in this existence, our pure heartedness. Our longings to find a place for ourself in this world, not be lonely, be part of the world, have friends etc. even leads to our ignoring or even problemizing (is thatEnglish :slight_smile: )our pure heartedness. We see benefit while there is no real benefit. But we our social beings and we seek connection with the world, with others. That makes that we do not prioritize pure heartedness, our true selves.