Recommendations: Four Noble Truths books (kindle editions)?

Hi! I am looking for recommendations for some good kindle ebooks on the Four Noble Truths, ones that keep the teaching pointed squarely at the core of the Buddha’s teaching on this core topic… as it seems that the most popular (or widely available) kindle ebooks are coming from the Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives and as such include quite a bit on rituals, emptiness, boddhisattvas, and all other things Mahayana.

Even something akin to a “4NT version” of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s short treatise on the Noble Eightfold Path would be fine.

Thank you

The “mobi” link here should work on your Kindle:

https://www.abhayagiri.org/books/464-the-four-noble-truths

:slight_smile:

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I was going to suggest the same book, but you beat me to it. :wink: :pray:

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You beat me to it. I thought the last chapter, the on the 8 fold path wasn’t very clear. However the rest of the book was great for explaining what exactly “letting go” is.

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Indeed. Thankfully the OP is already aware of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s booklet on that subject, so there was no need for me to mention it :wink:

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Thank you for the suggestions. Much appreciated.

And @Khemarato.bhikkhu thank you for the reminder, I keep forgetting to access the wealth of resources at the OBU! :pray:

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I printed it out in my school’s computer lab, back in the day before people realized free, unrestrained printing was a bad thing. I wish I would kept that printout. I later discovered that there was a bound copy of that book, but never got around to buying. Now, if I ever reread it I will just put it on my Kindle Paperwhite.

Just out of curiosity, to which are referring, The Noble Eightfold Path or the Four Noble Truths?

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “The Noble Eightfold Path”.

Thank you :slight_smile:

There’s another edition of the exact same LP Sumedho book with beautiful illustrations by Ajahn Sucitto. Here’s a link: The Four Noble Truths (Illustrated Edition) - Amaravati Buddhist Monastery

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I’ve found this very useful.

Noble Truths Dhamma Talk

The Noble Eightfold Path: 13 Meditation Talks, by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu. (revised July 28, 2020) The Noble Eightfold Path forms the framework for all the Buddha’s teachings. It was the first topic he mentioned in his first sermon, and the last topic he mentioned in his last. These edited transcripts correspond to the [13 Noble Eightfold Path mp3s]

As well as the other books. You can download the epub app to read it better or online. I haven’t seen them on places like Amazon (for physical copy) so I assume the author only has his books online.

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Try this one: https://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp201s_Nyanatiloka_life-Of-The-Buddha.pdf

Nyanatiloka sticks to the suttas and does a pretty good job.

PS: I always knew this to be a general problem of Westernized Buddhism, but I’m still saddened to see that whole booklets can be written about the four noble truths without any mention of rebirth or samsara, and reducing suffering to “being unsatisfied”. I’d be wary of any books that talk about the four noble truths in this way, for they do not teach what I understand the Buddha to have taught.

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Thank you, Bhikkhu Sunyo. What a great reference book that is! Thank you for taking the time to recommend it.

  • Suggested core reading on the four noble truths:

What the Buddha Taught by Ven. Dr. Rahula.
http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documents/what%20the%20buddha%20taught_rahula.pdf
(Second and enlarged edition 1974; reprinted by different publishers)

This work is mainly based on the Pali texts.

  • Further reading:

The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sūtrāṅga portion of the Pāli Saṃyutta-Nikāya and the Chinese Saṃyuktāgama (Series: Beitrage zur Indologie Band 32; Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000) by Dr. Choong Mun-keat.
(PDF) The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A comparative study based on the Sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyukta-agama | Mun Keat Choong - Academia.edu

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I sincerely apologise for resurrecting an old topic.

While the suggestions above were reviewed and greatly appreciated, I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the coverage and depth and I’m starting to wonder if such a book on the 4NT exists; and so, I am still looking for a good book that offers a thorough exploration of the Four Noble Truths from the perspective of either the early Buddhist texts, or if not that, then from the perspective of the Theravada tradition.

(though I am aware — and have read many — of the detailed books on the 4NT from the perspective of the Mahayana tradition, unfortunately the differences are quite significant)

As an aside, there are so many (lengthy and detailed) books, on so many Buddhist topics/concepts, so I am perplexed as to why something as foundational as the Four Noble Truths seems to have so little (in-depth) coverage as to not have a plethora of books on the topic to choose from.

Seeking book recommendations. :slight_smile:

(I will accept if there are none that satisfy the criteria I am seeking)

Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon
by Carol Anderson

This is an academic study. It is an expensive book - about $70 CAD for the Kindle edition - so I have only read the beginning section that I could access through the free preview. Not having read the whole book, I can’t recommend, so much as share its existence.

Good luck! Would love to hear if you think it is worth accessing the full text if you do read it.

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Can you be more specific about what is lacking? There is only so much material specifically related to the Four Noble Truths in the EBTs. What were you hoping to learn that you haven’t so far?

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I am looking for a book that I can recommend to others. A deep-dive into the Four Noble Truths that covers the depth of their meaning and the practical application of the perspectives that they can offer to our worldly experiences. A book that I can read and stand-behind; one that sheds light and offers insights, rather than one that muddles, confuses, or speaks in circles.

When I have energy, I can easily speak to the first three truths for 8 to 10 hours and then some, and the fourth noble truth for 10 to 20 hours; but, I don’t often have the luxury or the privilege of the time or energy to do so, and certainly not as often as I am called on to do so, so having a book that I can suggest to others would be good to add to my suite of tools.

These four noble “truths” are foundational and deep. They are the very fabric of the insights into enlightenment that can transform our world-view from the mundane into the supramundane. When we perceive the entire world around us through the lens of the “four noble truths,” everything changes. Everything becomes clear. Practice is made nigh effortless; or at least our ability to recognise the opportunities to do so become effortless. Despite that, the amount of coverage that they get is fundamentally lacking. There are so many books which serve as deep-dives into countless Buddhist concepts, from the individual aggregates and marks of existence, the individual brahmaviharas, to narrowly defined meditation techniques, and meta-physical minutiae of the dhammavinaya; and yet so little coverage on these realities that the Buddha discovered on the night of his enlightenment seem to exist (beyond the coverage that is offered by the Mahayana of course… which is an understanding that is far-removed from the canonical teachings).

Just my two cents; from a person seeking content. :slight_smile:

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Very much understand the sentiment.

I think we are in a kind of renaissance era of Early Buddhism and our understanding of it. There have been some gems in the past who were ahead of their time, but now that we have done so much more comparative study and are understanding more of the Vedic background, we have really “cracked” some of Early Buddhism and been able to cleanly separate what is and is not the word of the Buddha pretty well.

Literature on this topic—explaining things from the perspective of EBT, and not just with the view of the Pāli suttas (which allow people to sometimes make weird claims if they do not have a broader field of view, such as claiming that nibbāna is consciousness)—is at a point where it can emerge with success and demand, and the quality can be very good.

If someone took the time to write a book on the 4NT like this (and do a good job), I’m sure it would be a success. It would also open the door for further related literature to come out. Personally, I’m working on a long-term project related to paticcasamuppāda. I’m still studying and learning to be able to compile something that really presents a complete picture from many angles. I will likely model it off of the 4 noble truths and the book should function as one on the 4NT but expanded with all of Dependent Arising. This will include “transcendental DO” (i.e. the upanisa scheme, the gradual training of MN 38, the 8fold path, etc.) and how the 4th NT is part of DA/DO. Maybe when that book comes out you will find it helpful; I certainly hope to provide something that is both highly informative and highly practical.

Maybe, now seeing the current state of affairs in regards to literature on the 4 NT (lack of emphasis on samsāra; a more “psychological” than [phenomenonological] existential perspective; limited citation and back-up from EBTs as opposed to opinion-based literature; etc.) I should emphasize these more in the book and include more explicit sections on them. This has been informative.

Besides that, there is plenty of time and space for the right people to come in and help fill this gap. There are some very intelligent / informed people who are also practitioners here on this forum and in other Buddhist spaces. Maybe someone is interested in taking the time.

Mettā

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