The Four Noble Truths

Understand the Buddha's core teaching.

In his very first teaching, the historical Buddha pointed out the obvious: life is full of suffering. He then taught what have come to be known as "the four noble truths," essentially a roadmap to navigate that suffering. Join teachers Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, John Peacock, and Akincano Weber, who invite us to critically investigate these four truths for ourselves, seeing how they manifest in our own lived experience and apply to our modern world.

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Most of us have come across the phrase “the four noble truths,” referring to the tenets that form the bedrock of the Buddhist worldview. These four truths are generally understood as the historical Buddha’s realization that (1) life inevitably contains suffering; (2) this suffering is caused by craving and clinging to impermanent things; (3) suffering can be ended by cutting the roots of craving; and (4) this can be achieved by following a path outlined by the Buddha. 

In this 6-part course, teachers Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, John Peacock, and Akincano Weber of Bodhi College invite us to look critically at the traditional understanding of these teachings, which are not so much about gaining privileged access to an ultimate truth as they are a lifelong reflective exercise. 

Where does suffering come from? What is it that makes us happy? How can we live ethically in a way that supports personal and collective well-being? During the course, you'll investigate these questions and discover how to:

  • Recognize forms of craving that keep us bound in a cycle of dissatisfaction
  • Confront the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion that prevent us from living freely
  • Let go of harmful mental and emotional states
  • Integrate the Buddha's eightfold path as a moral and ethical framework into our day-to-day lives.

Join us in an innovative and contemporary exploration of the earliest teachings of the Buddha.

Study at your own pace

This course is divided into six units. Each unit will offer roughly 75 minutes of material to read and watch. In addition, there will be suggested contemplations for you to explore in meditation and in daily life. You can progress entirely at your own pace.

Unit 1 | Practicing with the Four Noble Truths 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, and Stephen Batchelor 

Unit 2 | Dukkha: How to Know It 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, and Stephen Batchelor, 

Unit 3 | Craving: How to Let Go of It 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, John Peacock, and Stephen Batchelor 

Unit 4 | Cessation: How to Realize It 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, and John Peacock

Unit 5 | The Path: How to Cultivate It 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, and John Peacock

Unit 6 | Bringing the Four Noble Truths into Everyday Life 

with Akincano, Christina Feldman, and John Peacock


  • Learn about the core framework of the four noble truths from the perspective of early Buddhism
  • Understand this teaching within the cultural context in which it was originally communicated
  • Learn different ways to practice with this teaching
  • Learn how to apply this core framework in your life
  • Develop one’s own perspective on this central teaching
  • Enter a community of learners who value peace, wisdom and friendly discussion
  • Gain deeper insights into the teachings.

Four expert teachers

Stephen Batchelor, Christina Feldman, John Peacock and Akincano Weber are highly respected Buddhist thinkers and teachers. Together, they are the core faculty of Bodhi College.

Dharma talks

8 in-depth videos explaining key aspects of the four noble truths and Eightfold Path.

Faculty discussions

6 faculty discussion videos in which teachers debate key aspects of the teachings.


6 contemplation videos opening up powerful lines of enquiry and insight.

New perspectives

If we respect other people's perspectives we may arrive at a new understanding. See how the differing viewpoints of the four teachers informs their understanding and practice.


Structured reflection will deepen your enjoyment and absorption of the material as well as your personal development.

CHRISTINA FELDMAN is a co-founder of Gaia House and a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, Massachusetts. The author of a number of books, she has been teaching insight meditation retreats internationally since 1976. She is one of the teaching faculty of the CDPP programme, dedicated to the study and application of the early teachings of the Buddha. She also teaches on the Buddhist psychological foundations of mindfulness to those training to teach mindfulness-based applications in England, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

STEPHEN BATCHELOR is a Buddhist teacher and writer known for his secular or agnostic approach to the Dharma. Formerly a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, he is the translator and author of several books including Buddhism Without Beliefs, Living With the Devil and Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. His most recent book, After Buddhism, was published by Yale University Press in 2015. He lives in southwest France with his wife, Martine.

AKINCANO WEBER is a Swiss Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. A former monk, he has lived and practiced for 20 years in European and Thai Forest monasteries. Particular interests are early Buddhist texts, stillness and contemplative psychology. He is guiding teacher at Atammaya Cologne, in Germany, part of the CPP program, the MBSR-Institute Freiburg and teaches meditation and Buddhist Psychology in secular and traditional contexts in Europe and overseas.

JOHN PEACOCK is an academic and a Buddhist practitioner of nearly forty years. Trained initially in the Tibetan Gelug tradition in India, he subsequently spent time in Sri Lanka studying Theravada. He lectured in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, is Associate Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and teaches on the Master of Studies program in MBCT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) at Oxford University. John has been teaching meditation for more than twenty five years and is a Gaia House guiding teacher.


"An excellent course! I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the multiple perspectives offered by the different teachers. It is refreshing to see such a complex and rich topic addressed from different angles through the perspectives of experienced teachers, rather than relying on a single point of view."

"The shared experiences of four expert teachers was invaluable for helping me relax into the teachings. As an aging "householder," I found the practical examples for contemplation and practice invaluable."

"This was a very insightful course. The content was very rich and delivered clearly."

"Every aspect of this course was attended to thoughtfully, with a great deal of mindfulness. The teachers, all so knowledgable, were clear, gentle and inviting." 

"I appreciate their knowledge and ability to explain the path with such clarity, so as to make it more accessible. Now I understand much more clearly the importance of integrating these truths into our everyday lives, not only while sitting on our cushions in the meditation hall. And this knowledge and clarity will continue to guide me."

"Although I am familiar with the material, my understanding has deepened. What amazes me is that you hear the teachings in new ways as your own practice deepens and also as teachers find new ways to talk about the Four Noble Truths." 

"This was one of the best presented and beneficial courses I have ever taken (and I have taken a lot of them). The presenters had a remarkable depth of knowledge, and were able to communicate how to apply the concepts in daily life." 

"It's been a rich feast of a course; I've enjoyed and learned a great deal from the varying perspectives that the teachers have provided."

"I like this course. I like the fact that we are getting different perspectives and that it is natural and spontaneous and not scripted."

Course Curriculum

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  Unit 1: Practicing with the Four Noble Truths
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  Unit 2: How to Recognize Suffering
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  Unit 3: How to Let Go of Craving
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  Unit 4: How to Realize Cessation
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  Unit 5: How to Cultivate the Path
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  Unit 6: Bringing the Four Noble Truths into Everyday Life
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