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Fourth Noble Truth

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress’… ‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress is to be developed’… ‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress has been developed.’ — Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Saṃyutta-Nikāya 56.11)


  1. peaceandwisdom2013 permalink

    I have some questions regarding practices that lead to the cessation of stress. This has confused me for some time.

    Everything the Buddha stated was very specific and concise with respective to the cessation of suffering. He intentionally did not answer the “invalid questions” such as “Does the Tathāgata exist after death?” and “Is the universe infinite or eternal?” because, as the Buddha stated, these were not conducive to cessation of stress. They did not pertain to the Four Noble Truths.

    Based on this, why did the Buddha repeatedly mention the cultivation of super normal powers? There is even a discussion of “Ariyan” and “non-Ariyan” super normal powers in the Suttas. How were the powers of clairaudience, reading other minds, disappearing and reappearing conducive to the goal? Even one of Buddha’s foremost disciple, Mahāmoggallāna, was known for these super normal powers and visiting various planes.

    My other question has to do with Sangiti Sutta and Dasuttara Sutta of the Dīghanikāya. These literally list most, if not, all the primary teachings of the Buddha. This is invaluable information. How is one supposed to approach all this information? Does a monk on the Path really come to understand all of these teachings? I acknowledge I am a beginning student.

    • Questions that assume the process of being and becoming without reference to cessation of suffering are invalid because they lead to an infinite regress. For example, “Does God exist?” begs the question, “Who created God?” and so on. There is never a firm conclusion to such inquiries.

      The Buddha taught about mystic powers because they are natural side-effects of meditation practice. We should be aware that they are there, but not cling to them. We can sometimes see interesting places, but so what? All form is impermanent.

      Sangiti Sutta and Dasuttara Sutta are encyclopedic in scope. They are like a top-level outline or list of ontological categories of the Buddha’s teaching. Think of them as a checklist of topics you should be familiar with and look out for in your practice. A monk advanced in meditation should be able to cognize all the major points of the teaching. This is called the ‘Eye of the Dhamma’—having an overview of the entire field.

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