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Step 1: Life is full of suffering.

Principle: Honesty

In the First Noble Truth, the Buddha said life is full of suffering (dukkha). Dukkha arises out of ignorance, which leads to thoughts, which lead to consciousness, which generate feelings, that generate desires or cravings, which create grasping or attachment, which create the condition of dukkha. Step One is the process of recognizing this Truth. Buddha said we should respond to this Truth by seeing it clearly, not shying away from the pain, but understanding the cause(s) of our suffering. Buddha recognized that even in our moments of fulfillment we are grasping toward more.

There are three kinds of suffering:

  1. Ordinary suffering which includes every day conditions: birth, death, grief, despair, disease, old age, death, fear and loss.
  2. The suffering which is caused by change; the impermanence of conditions, the constant state of flux of all that exists.
  3. The suffering which comes from clinging to aspects of our self: ego, body and mind.

Our suffering is caused by our craving for what we don't have; for more of what we desire; and from attachment to both.

Text or Verse

Birth is suffering: sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; not to obtain what one wants is suffering.
The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha (Majjhima Nikaya) 9.15

Of those things that come and go,
which are affected by suffering, change and decay, one cannot say that this is the Self.
The Buddha

Grief and sorrow in the world come to those who hold the world dear....but happy are they who are free from grief because they do not hold he world dear.
The Doctrine of the Buddha

There is a place without substance, even beyond the Great Beyond that I call the end of suffering.
The Buddha


Buddhism teaches there are Three Refuges, one of which is the dharma or the Truth. I take refuge in the dharma when I commit myself to seeking the truth; and to living by the principle of truth. Dharma is the truth about the way things are. In its refuge you can move more easily into acceptance of “what is.”


Mapping the Dharma: A Concise Guide to the Middle Way of the Buddha (go to Links menu to connect to the web site)

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