The Buddha's Pragmatism and Intellectual Style
Again and again the Buddha emphasized that his goal as a teacher was entirely pragmatic. His followers came to know him as the great physician; the Dhamma was the medicine he prescribed, the SaΔgha were the nurses whose calling it was to administer that medicine. Though there is no canonical evidence for this interpretation, modern scholars have plausibly argued that the formulation of the Four Noble Truths follows the medical idiom of the time: first the disease is diagnosed, then its origin or cause is established, then it is accordingly stated what a cure would consist of, and finally the treatment to achieve that cure is prescribed. The Buddha described himself as the surgeon who removes the arrow of craving.