Chapter 3. Buddha's "The Four Noble Truths"

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from "The Four Noble Truths"
The Reading Selection from "The Four Noble Truths"
Topics Worth Investigating

Yogi, detail from The Land of the Veda

About the author…

In his Buddha, The Word,[1] Paul Carus (1852-1919) compiled some of the fundamental teachings of the Buddhist Canon. The selection here, "The Four Noble Truths," is briefly abridged and composes an excellent introduction to Buddhist thought. At the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, Carus became deeply influenced by Eastern philosophies and published a number of works seeking to bridge Western and Eastern thought.

About the book…

After his enlightenment, Buddha elucidated the "Four Noble Truths" in his first instruction to his disciples; briefly stated, these truths explain how (1) all who live suffer, (2) suffering is a result of self, (3) suffering can be avoided, and (4) suffering can be extinguished by the "Eightfold Path." The reading selection after this one continues Carus' compilation of Buddha's teaching with the "Eightfold Path."

Ideas of Interest from "The Four Noble Truths"

  1. Describe in general terms the Four Noble Truths.

  2. Name and describe the groups of consciousness. Is the Consciousness Group, itself, one of the groups of consciousness or is it dependent upon the other groups? Explain.

  3. If the self or Ego-entity is not real, then how does the illusion of it arise and of what kind of phenomena is it composed? Explain Buddha's comparison of the self to an ocean wave.

  4. What are the Three Warnings? Of what is it that they warn?

  5. What is Samsara and how is it related to the First Noble Truth? Describe "the Wheel of Existence."

  6. Name and describe the kinds of craving that form the origin of suffering? What is the cause of evil choices and actions?

  7. Describe how one escapes from the "Wheel of Existence." How is suffering to be overcome?

  8. What exactly is being sought in Buddhism? Is awakening or realization just annihilation of the self? What, then, is Nirvana? Can one experience Nirvana while living?



Paul Carus. Buddha, The Word. 1915.