the Four Noble truths

Recovery Dharma

The Four noble truths

As people who have struggled with addiction, we are already intimately familiar with the truth of suffering. Even if we have never heard of the Buddha, at some level we already know the foundation of his teachings, which we call the Dharma: that in this life, there is suffering. 

The Buddha also taught the way to free ourselves from this suffering. The heart of these teachings is the Four Noble Truths and the corresponding commitments, which are the foundation of our program. 

1. There is suffering.
We commit to understanding the truth of suffering. 

2. There is a cause of suffering. 
We commit to understanding that craving leads to suffering. 

3. There is an end to suffering. 
We commit to understanding and experiencing that less craving leads to less suffering. 

4. There is a path that leads to the end of suffering. 
We commit to cultivating the path.

Click here for a printable version of this reading

Ways to practice with the Four Noble Truths

Many of us are familiar with this reading. The next step, however, is to work with these truths as a focus for practice.  Here are a few suggestions.


Use inquiry practice with the Four Noble Truths to help identify, and practice letting go of, addictive behaviors and substances.


Meditations based on the Four Noble Truths help us to sit with our experience of craving, addictive behaviors, and the practice of letting go with compassion.


We listen to, and participate in discussions about, the Four Noble Truths to help deepen our understanding.

The Path

We spend time reading, studying and asking others about their experience with their practice with the Four Noble Truths.

Inquiry and Investigation

We explore the Four Noble Truth inquiry questions through reading, meditation, writing,  sharing our insights with others and listening to theirs.

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Sangha, Wise Friends, Mentors

We take refuge in the support of wise friends and mentors as we sit with our experiences of suffering, it’s causes, and the pathway out of suffering.


We deepen our understanding of the Four Noble Truths through reading, meditation, inquiry, seeking other sources of wisdom, and finding the connection with the other aspects of the path.

Causes and Conditions

As people engaged in the world, rather than withdrawn from it, we can use Wise Understanding to live without clinging, attachment, or craving. By paying attention to our actions and the results of those actions, we can begin to change where our choices are leading. If we intend to act in ways that have positive results, and if we’re aware of the true intention and the nature of our actions, then we’ll see better results—better meaning less suffering and less harm.

– Recovery Dharma, Page 21


We take refuge in our own capacity to heal and recover

Buddha Practice

We cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves through meditation, inquiry, and renunciation of harmful and intoxicating behaviors and substances.


(The Path) We seek refuge in the Buddhist teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Dharma Practice

We deepen our understanding of these principles through, studying these teachings.


(Community) We find refuge within the community of others who are walking this path with us.

Sangha Practice

We attend meetings and cultivate deeper connections with Wise Friends and Mentors.

Like a Map

“It can be incredibly liberating to hear this said so plainly and directly. No one is trying to convince or convert us. No one is telling us we have to believe something. No one is sugarcoating our experience. For once, it feels like we’re being told the truth.

“Like a map that shows us the path, these truths help us find our way in recovery.”

– Recovery Dharma, Page 7