Home Discussion Forum What is the most apt formulation of the First Noble Truth of...

What is the most apt formulation of the First Noble Truth of the Buddha?

Is it “Suffering is caused by desire” or is there a better formulation?


  1. Hell is “want to, but can’t.”
    -Brigham Young
    If you think the bible is enough of God’s word, you’re right;
    it’s enough to send you to hell.

  2. The Buddha used a medical model in setting out the Four Noble Truths:
    – Symptom
    – Cause
    – Prognosis
    – Treatment
    Thus, the First Noble Truth does not contain anything about cause – it simply focuses on the fact of *dukkha.*
    The Buddha used the word “dukkha” because it was rich in meanings. While it’s commonly translated into English as “suffering,” dukkha actually refers to a fundamental imbalance. The colloquial usage of the word in the Buddha’s time referred to an axle that was stuck or out of balance. Most commonly, it referred to a potter’s wheel that wasn’t centered – and thus produced wobbly pots.
    So a simple way of describing the First Noble Truth might be:
    – Human life is out of balance
    This approach removes the psychological content of the word “suffering,” which is important because although we often don’t have awareness of suffering, we frequently can see that our life is out of balance.
    Other common translations for dukkha include: stress, anguish, dissatisfaction, suffering, unease and unsatisfactory.
    Finally, the very first time the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths (in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta), he presented the First Truth like this:
    “Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: 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.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here