Today, we will cover an overview of the Four Truths and the Eightfold Path. These are the two inter-twined core teachings of the Buddha, which lead to happiness: the freedom from all suffering.


A. Eightfold Path

“And what is the noble eightfold path? It is right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion(samadhi).

And what is right view? Knowing about suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.

SN 45.8 Analysis, Bhikkhu Sujato translation

B. Fourth Noble Truth - the Path leading to the end of suffering

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this Noble Eightfold Path;that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration (samadhi).

Bhikkhu Bodhi translation, SN 56.11 Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma


Four Truths is really about happiness

The Four Truths might give an impression that Buddhism is all about suffering. But Truth number 3 is talking about ending ALL suffering… and if you don’t suffer, what is the opposite of suffering? Happiness (or contentment, or peace)!

Hence, my teacher Ajahn Brahm has suggested this re-ordering of the Four Truths

  1. There is happiness (i.e. ending of suffering)
  2. There is the way leading to happiness (i.e. Eightfold Path)
  3. There is the absence of happiness (i.e. suffering)
  4. There is the cause of the absence of happiness (i.e. origin of suffering) This is also a valid way of looking at the Four Truths.

In addition, the Buddha often talks about the happiness & pleasure outside of the five senses: the term kāmma specifically refers to the realm of the five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. It does NOT refer to the realm nor pleasures solely of the sixth sense of the mind. (Note: sexual fantasies do not belong to the sixth sense of the mind, as the origins and the perceptions are from the five-sense world). Repeatedly, the Buddha criticizes the pleasures of the five-sense world, but praises the cultivation of the pleasure of this sixth-sense, which one only experiences in the four jhanas (more in future).

Four Truths & Eightfold Path refer to each other

The Four Truths and Eightfold Path refer to each other. The first factor of the Eightfold Path is Right View. In turn, a central aspect of Right View is the Four Truths.

Four Truths as a problem solving framework

The Four Truths are frequently phrased in this order:

  1. Knowledge of suffering
  2. The origin of suffering lies with wanting or craving
  3. The cessation (or ending) of suffering
  4. The way leading to the ending of suffering, which is the Eightfold Path.

This is a very powerful problem-solving framework, which can be rephrased as:

  1. The symptom
  2. The cause of the symptom
  3. What happens when the cause disappears
  4. The way to remove the cause

The Four Truths as a diagnostic framework is very powerful in troubleshooting your suffering: if you’re suffering, that must mean you are wanting or craving something! And if you remove or let go of that wanting or craving, then your suffering will disappear.



  1. How could the problem-solving framework apply to a problem you face in life (e.g. at work, relationships, etc.)?
    1. What are the symptoms?
    2. What are the causes of the symptoms?
    3. What happens when the causes disappear?
    4. How could you remove the causes?

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