Thus have I heard. Once when the Lord was staying at Benares in the Isipatana deer park, he addressed the monks as follows: It was here in this very deer park at Benares that the Truth-finder, Arhat, all-enlightened, set in motion the supreme Wheel of the Doctrine—which shall not be turned back from its onward course by ascetic or Brahmin, god or Mara or Brahma or by anyone in the universe,—the announcement of the Four Noble Truths, the teaching, declaration, and establishment of those Four Truths, with their unfolding, exposition, and manifestation.
What are these four?—The announcement, teaching. . . and manifestation of the Noble Truth of sufferings [dukkha]—of the origin of suffering—of the cessation of suffering—of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.
Follow, monks, Sariputta and Moggallana and be guided by them; they are wise helpers unto their fellows in the higher life.... Sariputta is able to announce, teach . . . and manifest the Four Noble Truths in all their details.
Having thus spoken, the Blessed One arose and went into his own cell.
The Lord had not been gone long when the reverent Sariputta proceeded to the exposition of the Truth-finder’s Four Noble Truths, as follows:
What, reverend sirs, is the Noble Truth of suffering?—Birth is a suffering; decay is a suffering; death is a suffering; grief and lamentation, pain, misery and tribulation are sufferings; it is a suffering not to get what is desired;—in brief all the factors of the fivefold grip on existence are suffering.
Birth is, for living creatures of each several class, the being born or produced, the issue, the arising or the re-arising, the appearance of the psychic constructions, the growth of faculties.
Decay, for living creatures of each several class, is the decay and decaying, loss of teeth, gray hair, wrinkles, a dwindling term of life, sere faculties.
Death, for living creatures of each several class, is the passage and passing hence, the dissolution, disappearance, dying, death, decease, the dissolution of the impressions, the discarding of the dead body.
Grief is the grief, grieving, and grievousness, the inward grief and inward anguish of anyone who suffers under some misfortune or is in the grip of some type of suffering.
Lamentation is the lament and lamentation, the wailing and the lamenting of anyone who suffers under some misfortune or is in the grip of some type of suffering.
Pain is any bodily suffering or bodily evil, and suffering bred of bodily contact, any evil feeling.
Misery is mental suffering and evil, any evil feeling of the mind.
Tribulation is the tribulation of heart and mind, the state to which tribulation brings them, in anyone who suffers under some misfortune or is in the grip of some type of suffering.
There remains not to get what is desired. In creatures subject to birth—or decay—or death—or grief and lamentation, pain, misery, and tribulation—the desire arises not to be subject thereto but to escape them. But escape is not to be won merely by desiring it; and failure to win it is another suffering.
What are in brief all the factors of the fivefold grip on existence which are sufferings?—They are: the factors of form, sensation, perception, psychic dispositions, and consciousness.
The foregoing, sirs, constitutes the Noble Truth of suffering.
What now is the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering? It is any craving that makes for re-birth and is tied up with passion’s delights and culls satisfaction now here now there—such as the craving for sensual pleasure, the craving for continuing existence, and the craving for annihilation
Next, what is the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering?—It is the utter and passionless cessation of this same craving,—the abandonment and rejection of craving, deliverance from craving, and aversion from craving.
Lastly, what is the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the cessation of suffering?—It is just the Noble Eightfold Path, consisting of right outlook, right resolves, right speech, right acts, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness and right rapture of concentration.
Right outlook is to know suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.
Right resolve is the resolve to renounce the world and to do no hurt or harm.
Right speech is to abstain from lies and slander, from reviling, and from tattle.
Right acts are to abstain from taking life, from stealing, and from lechery.
Right livelihood is that by which the disciple of the Noble One supports himself, to the exclusion of wrong modes of livelihood.
Right endeavor is when a monk brings his will to bear, puts forth endeavor and energy, struggles and strives with all his heart, to stop bad and wrong qualities which have not yet arisen from ever arising, to renounce those which have already arisen, to foster good qualities which have not yet arisen, and, finally, to establish, clarify, multiply, enlarge, develop, and perfect those good qualities which are there already.
Right mindfulness is when realizing what the body is—what feelings are—what the heart is—and what the mental states are—a monk dwells ardent, alert, and mindful, in freedom from the wants and discontents attendant on any of these things.
Right rapture of concentration is when, divested of lusts and divested of wrong dispositions, a monk develops, and dwells in the first ecstasy with all its zest and satisfaction, a state bred of aloofness and not divorced from observation and reflection. By laying to rest observation and reflection, he develops and dwells in inward serenity, in the focussing of heart, in the zest and satisfaction of the second ecstasy, which is divorced from observation and reflection and is bred of concentration—passing thence to the third and fourth ecstasies.
This, sirs, constitutes the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the cessation of suffering....