Four Noble Truths

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DGDC
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:53 pm

Four Noble Truths

Post by DGDC » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:11 am

I wish to place before the forum a problem I have encountered with the meaning of the term Four Noble Truths. The definitions of the term in Oxford Dictionaries, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Wikipedia are compared below:
1 Oxford Dictionaries
The term, 'four noble truths' is defined in Oxford Dictionaries Online as follows :
The four central beliefs containing the essence of Buddhist teaching. See Buddhism.
OD gives the current usage of a term.
In this definition 'noble' is replaced by central and 'truths' by beliefs; this replacement in the context of Buddhist teaching is not acceptable. I am a 'Buddhist'; for me they are absolute truths.
2 Encyclopedia Britannica Online
The first paragraph of Britannica article on Four Noble Truths is quoted below :
Four Noble Truths, Buddhist philosophy
Alternative titles: Chattari-ariya-saccani; Chatvari-arya-satyani
Four Noble Truths, Pali Chattari-ariya-saccani, Sanskrit Chatvari-arya-satyani, one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism, said to have been set forth by the Buddha, the founder of the religion, in his first sermon, which he gave after his enlightenment. Although the term Four Noble Truths is well known in English, it is a misleading translation of the Pali term Chattari-ariya-saccani (Sanskrit: Chatvari-arya-satyani), because noble (Pali: ariya; Sanskrit: arya) refers not to the truths themselves but to those who understand them. A more accurate rendering, therefore, might be “four truths for the [spiritually] noble”; they are four facts that ... (100 of 407 words)
The passage equates Four Noble Truths to Pali Chattari Ariya-Saccani and states:
(1) Four Noble Truths is a misleading translation of the Pali term;
(2) noble (Pali: ariya) refers not to the truths themselves but to those who understand them;
(3) A more accurate rendering, therefore, might be “four truths for the [spiritually] noble”.
The term Ariya in ariya-saccāni qualifies the Truths. It is an adjective.

3 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The opening section of the Wikipedia article is quoted below :
The Four Noble Truths (Sanskrit: catvāri āryasatyāni; Pali: cattāri ariyasaccāni) are "the truths of the Noble Ones," which express the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory, but there is a path to liberation from repeated worldly existence. The truths are as follows:
The first paragraph equates Four Noble Truths to Pali: cattāri ariyasaccāni and states that 'the Four Noble Truths are "the truths of the Noble Ones'. The Britannica definition is “four truths for the [spiritually] noble". Wikipedia interpretation is different to that of Britannica.
The issue is which is the correct rendering of Cattāri Ariyasaccāni? The “four truths for the [spiritually] noble" or "the truths of the Noble Ones". Both are interpretations and therefore false renderings.

4 Cattari Ariyasaccani (Pali: cattāri ariyasaccāni)
The text defining Ariyasaccāni from Samyutta Nikaya is given below:

‘‘Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ – jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, byādhipi dukkho, maraṇampi dukkhaṃ, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ – saṃkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.
Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ – yāyaṃ taṇhā ponobhavikā nandirāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathīdaṃ – kāmataṇhā, bhavataṇhā, vibhavataṇhā.
Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ – yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo.
Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ – ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, seyyathidaṃ – sammādiṭṭhi…pe… sammāsamādhi. [SN 56.11 PTS: S v 420]
The ariyasaccāni are connected by the term dukkham ariysaccaṃ. It appears that the term Dukkha is translated as four. This is ridiculous!
OD gives:the ‘four noble truths’ of Buddhism state that all existence is suffering, that the cause of suffering is desire, that freedom from suffering is nirvana, and that this is attained through the ‘eightfold path’ of ethical conduct, wisdom, and mental discipline (including meditation). The ariysaccāni are connected by dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ.
5 Findings
The findings are summarized below:
Cattāri Ariyasaccāni “four truths for the [spiritually] noble” [Britannica]
Cattāri Ariyasaccāni "the truths of the Noble Ones," [Wikipedia]
The Ariyasaccāni are: dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ.
There is no agreement on the English equivalent of Ariyasaccāni. This is of greatest importance to all Theravadins as the four Ariyasaccāni is the foundation on which the edifice of Dhamma of Lord Buddha is built. I recommend this as a topic for discussion.
I am particularly concerned about the Wikipedia statement: the Four Noble Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory. This statement is without a basis and completely misrepresents the 'orientation of Buddhism'. The 'orientation of Buddhism', really, the goal of Buddhism, is Santhuṭṭhi: A state of happiness and satisfaction, throughout one's life.
To say, "the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory" is an affront to the intelligence and feelings of all Buddhists. I recommend that all members of this forum give their attention to this issue. It is at least necessary to maintain our self-respect.

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The Thinker
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Re: Four Noble Truths

Post by The Thinker » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:20 am

Good morning DGDC, you wrote
I am particularly concerned about the Wikipedia statement: the Four Noble Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory. This statement is without a basis and completely misrepresents the 'orientation of Buddhism'. The 'orientation of Buddhism', really, the goal of Buddhism, is Santhuṭṭhi: A state of happiness and satisfaction, throughout one's life.
To say, "the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory" is an affront to the intelligence and feelings of all Buddhists. I recommend that all members of this forum give their attention to this issue. It is, at least, necessary to maintain our self-respect.
Yes, I agree with you on this, but at the same time, it is important that suffering is recognised quickly by those new to the practice, The recognition of Dukkha is the soil upon which this tradition is built.
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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