Did The Buddha Only Teach Dukkha and Its Cessation?



I just want to raise some questions that you don’t have to give me an answer, but rather, you may ask and know it yourself :smiley:

  • What of the Awakened One’s teachings do you care about?
  • Why do you care about those teachings?
  • What drove you into searching and coming to the Awakened One’s teachings? What happened before that?

For some people, the answer to these questions is dissatisfaction (stress, sufferings, discontentment), they are aware of the dissatisfaction they themselves or other people experience (such as losing a family member), and they seek a way out, release from such dissatisfaction (stress, sufferings, discontentment) in life (pointed out in DN 22 - Thanissaro “Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.”)

If what claims to be the Awakened One’s teachings doesn’t help you solve the problems, end dissastisfaction in your life, will you care? Why? What does it bring to you? Is it what you really want?

What I care throughout the nikayas is the four noble truths and their detailed expansion (a part of them or entirely) such as the noble eightfold path, dependent origination, five clinging-aggregates, six sense bases, four establishings of mindfulness, seven factors for awakening, impermanent - dissatisfactory - not-self. I think the Awakened One’s statement in MN 22 (Thanissaro) stated that: “Both formerly and now, monks, I (the Awakened One) declare only stress and the cessation of stress” means a concise version of the four noble truths (the first and third noble truths as the result, implied that the second and fourth noble truths as corresponding causes).

To sum up, the big question is what do you really want (in your life) and why.

For more information:

Cheers :smiley:


I take it to mean that everything the Buddha taught was related ( directly or indirectly ) to dukkha and it’s cessation, ie that the ultimate purpose of his various teachings was cessation of dukkha.


What we have to investigate the motivation of the BB to reverse his decession. I think it is just more than the correction of the translation considering the fact that his translations are not word to word but to convey the meaning.
What is the possible misunderstanding of the Sutta if the word “only” not used?


This seems to be the key question. Did the Buddha in fact teach anything other than these two? Are there any teachings that are neither suffering nor the cessation of suffering?

May I suggest that the wieldings of various forms of psychic power are not clearly in either category?

I am doctrinally very unsure about this, but if the Buddha taught people (for example) to read the hearts of others through meditative attainments, this skill seems to fit neither of them terribly well. It’s not necessary for Awakening, and it’s not necessarily the basis of suffering either.


There are three types of Dukkha.
Dkukkha Dukkha, Viparinama Dukkha, Sankara Dukka.
Suffering has many levels.
Buddha’s teachig covers all the levels not like other religions.
Buddha did not teach all what he knew.


To my understanding, BB’s article fits in with his stance of engaged Buddhism. Especially (but not exclusively) in Theravada, there is a trend to focus on our own practice and not say much about politics or the world. This is all well and good, but some who espouse this style of Buddhism make the further claim that the Buddha himself never taught anything about the greater good and only taught individuals.

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote a book (The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony) and, I assume, this article in order to refute that stance and point out that the Buddha also taught how we can address suffering in our society and communities. Whether social and communal advice counts as “teaching Dukkha and the end of Dukkha” I will leave to the reader.


When Buddha taught the path to cessation of Dukkha it is naturally extend to yourself and others,
So socially engaged Buddhism also part of the cessation of Dhuklhs In mundane level.


There is lots of other stuff in the EBTs, but I think we can say that the Buddha taught it all with the purpose of ending suffering.


IMO there is no difference. You can spin the passage with or without the “only.” That’s the nature of spin.