Truth of Cessation

Lakeside PeaceThe philosophy of Buddhism is contained in the Four Noble Truths.[1]

The truth of suffering reveals that all forms of becoming, all the various elements of existence comprised in the “five aggregates” or groups of existence — also called the “five categories which are the objects of clinging” — are inseparable from suffering as long as they remain objects of grasping or clinging. All corporeality, all feelings and sensations, all perceptions, all mental formations and consciousness, being impermanent, are a source of suffering, are conditioned phenomena and hence not-self (anicca, dukkha, anatta). Ceaseless origination and dissolution best characterize the process of existence called life, for all elements of this flux of becoming continually arise from conditions created by us and then pass away, giving rise to new elements of being according to one’s actions or kamma.

All suffering originates from craving, and our very existence is conditioned by craving, which is threefold: the craving for sense pleasures (kama-tanha), craving for continued and renewed existence (bhava-tanha), and craving for annihilation after death (vibhava-tanha). This is the truth of the origin of suffering.

The attainment of perfect happiness, the breaking of the chain of rebirths and suffering through the realization of Nibbana, is possible only through the utter extirpation of that threefold craving. This is the truth of suffering’s cessation.

[1] An exhaustive exposition of the Four Noble Truths is found in The Word of The Buddha by Nyanatiloka Mahathera. See also Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha, transl. by Ñanamoli Thera (BPS Wheel No. 17) and The Four Noble Truths by Francis Story (BPS Wheel No. 34/35).

Source: The above four paragraphs were excerpted from “The Foundations of Mindfulness: Satipatthana Sutta”, translated by Nyanasatta Thera. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, .

©1993 Buddhist Publication Society.

You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge and, in the case of reprinting, only in quantities of no more than 50 copies; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. The Wheel Publication No. 19 (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1993). Transcribed from the print edition in 1994 under the auspices of the DharmaNet Dharma Book Transcription Project, with the kind permission of the Buddhist Publication Society. Last revised for Access to Insight on 30 November 2013.


The Third Noble Truth:

The End of Dissatisfaction and Suffering

The Third Noble Truth tells us there is an end to our dissatisfaction and suffering when we let go of, abandon, and liberate ourselves from the craving and attachment that causes it.

Because our pain, confusion, and suffering have a cause, a beginning, they also have an end. Once we understand the nature of our illness, we can cure it with the right remedies. In this same way, once we see and understand what causes our suffering, we can bring an end to it by eliminating those causes and realizing well-being.

Liberation from suffering, awakening, supreme peace, lasting happiness, and perfect wisdom are possible. . . .

Insight into The Third Noble Truth: Our delusion, greed, craving, attachment, and negative behavior need to be extinguished. . . . For one liberated in this way, in whose heart dwells peace, there is nothing to be added to what has been accomplished. This is the end of dissatisfaction and suffering—the realization of our true nature, Ultimate Reality, Nirvana.

Source: Adapted from SourcePoint Global Outreach, The Heart of Dharma Collection (Mount Shasta, CA: Naljor Prison Dharma Service, n.d.)

Personal Reflection: All sentient beings have the potential for full enlightenment. Also, the reason that a human birth is so precious is that we are in the privileged position to have sufficient awareness, together with freewill, to be able to choose to act in skilful ways to nurture and develop the characteristics of an enlightened being (until that state is wholly reached).

Finally, as a human being we may be fortunate to be equipped to develop these qualities in a suitable setting – two approaches being meditation and ethical behaviour. Some have said that we have the seed, but we must choose to cultivate and develop it to its perfect culmination.