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The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path

posted Mar 18, 2011, 7:06 AM by Phil Spitze

I am into week 4 of my studies at IBC (http://ibc.ac.th/en/) and am being challenged every step of the way!  This week’s lesson is on the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path and I was struggling with the relationship between the two until I came across this text by Bhikkhu Bodhi (copyright 1984/1994):

The essence of the Buddha’s teaching can be summed up in two principles: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The first covers the side of doctrine, and the primary response it elicits is understanding; the second covers the side of discipline, in the broadest sense of that word, and the primary response it calls for is practice. In the structure of the teaching these two principles lock together into an indivisible unity called the dhamma-vinaya, the doctrine-and-discipline, or, in brief, the Dhamma. The internal unity of the Dhamma is guaranteed by the fact that the last of the Four Noble Truths, the truth of the way, is the Noble Eightfold Path, while the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right view, is the understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Thus the two principles penetrate and include one another, the formula of the Four Noble Truths containing the Eightfold Path and the Noble Eightfold Path containing the Four Truths.

This explanation made things more clear to me and being a visual learner, I created this graphic to help me commit the lesson to memory.