An Outline of the Buddha's Teaching


And Theravada Buddhism’s Basic Concepts

  Pali in bold: Dhamma; Sanskrit in italics: Dharma  



I.  The Four Noble Truths, Ariya Sacca, Arya Satya

II. The Noble Eightfold Path

III. Progress on the Path


I. The Four Noble Truths, Ariya Sacca, Arya Satya


1.      The most pressing fact of existence, in a word: Dukkha, Duhka, suffering or unsatisfactoriness. In Three words: Tilakkhana, Trilakshana, the Three marks:  

a.       Anicca, Anitya, impermanence, transitoriness

b.       Dukkha, Duhka, suffering, unsatisfactoriness

c.       Anatta, Anatman, no real or lasting identity


Illusion of self is merely an aggregate of five Khandas, Skandhas:  

a.       Rupa, Rupa, matter

b.       Vedana, Vedana, feeling or sensation

c.       Sanna, Samjna, perception or recognition

d.       Sankhara, Samskara, mental reactions

e.       Vinnana, Vijnana, consciousness or cognition


2.      Suffering arises (Samudaya, Samudaya) out of a network of causes, the chain of dependent or conditioned arising (Paticca Samuppada, Pratiya Samutpada):  

a.       Avijja, Avidya, ignorance or nescience

b.       Sankhara, Samskara, mental reactions

c.       Vinnana, Vijnana, consciousness or recognition

d.       Nama-rupa, Namarupa, mind and body

e.       Salayatana, Shadayatana, the six senses

f.        Phassa, Sparsha, contact

g.       Vedana, Vedana, feeling or sensation

h.       Tanha, Trisna, thirst or craving

i.        Upadana, Upadana, clinging or attachment

j.        Bhava, Bhava, becoming

k.       Jati, Jati, future birth

l.        Jara Marana, Jara Maranam, old age and death


In shorter form, it is the craving, Tanha, Trishna, of the illusory self, Atta, Atman, that leads to endless becoming or journeying, Samsara, Samsara, conditioned by the three unwholesome roots or poisons, Akusala-mula, Akushala-mula:  

a.       Lobha, Lobha, greed or craving

b.       Dosa, Dvesha, ill-will or aversion

c.       Moha, Moha, delusion


3.      Suffering ceases (Nirodha, Nirodha) not by more craving and aversion but by breaking the chain of causes and extinguishing the passionate illusion of self. This freedom is known as Nibbana, Nirvana, extinguishing or extinction. The dissolution (Bhanga, Bhanga) of the false will not take the seeker to a better elsewhere or heaven but to reality-as-it-is, Yatha-Bhuta, Yathabhutam, or to the here-and-now, suchness, Tathata, Tathata.


4.      There is an ancient path (Purana-magga, Purana-maggam) to the cessation or extinction of suffering. It is a middle path (Majjhima Patipada, Madhyama) between self-denial or asceticism and self-indulgence. It is known as the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya Atthangika Magga, Arya Ashtangika Marga. The Eightfold Path elaborates a Threefold Training (Tisso-sikkha, Trishiksha) consisting of:  

a.       Sila, Shila, the moral discipline of:  

1.       Samma Vaca, Samyag Vach, Right Speech

2.       Samma Kammanta, Samyak Karmanta, Right Action

3.       Samma Ajiva, Samyag Ajiva, Right Livelihood


Moral discipline begins with the assumption of ten precepts (Sila, Shila) or abstentions from:  

1.       Killing of sentient beings

2.       Taking what is not given

3.       Sexual misconduct (for monks, all sexual activity)

4.       Speaking falsehood

5.       Intoxication and its resultant heedlessness

6.       (Monks and holy days) Solid food after noon

7.       (Monks and holy days) Sensual entertainment

8.       (Monks and holy days) Bodily decoration

9.       (Monks and holy days) High and luxurious beds

10.     (Monks only) Gold and silver


b.       Samadhi, Samadhi, mental concentration, the training of

1.     Samma Vayama, Samyag Vyayama, Right Effort

2.             Samma Sati, Samyak-Smriti, Right Mindfulness

3.             Samma Samadhi, Samyak Samadhi, Right Concentration


c.       Panna, Prajna, the development of wisdom by:  

1.       Samma Ditthi, Samyag Dristhi, Right Understanding

2.       Samma Sankappa, Samyak Samkalpa, Right Thought


Which furthers:  

1.       Samatha Bhavana, Shamatha Bhavana, the development of tranquility

2.       Vipassana Bhavana, Vipashyana Bhavana, the development of insight



II.     The Noble Eightfold Path


1.       Samma Ditthi, Right Understanding or View attempts to keep the large picture or frame of reference in mind, the Four Noble Truths and the ephemeral, unsatisfactory and illusory nature of the self (anicca, dukkha, anatta).


2.       Samma Sankappa, Right Aim or Resolve focuses on endeavors which cure suffering, such as:  

a.       Nekkhamma, renunciation of want (as distinct from need)

b.       Abyapada, good will or loving kindness

c.               Avihimsa, harmlessness towards sentient beings


3.       Samma Vaca, Right Speech:

a.      Avoids falsehood and speaks truth

b.      Avoids slander and speaks to reconciliation

c.       Avoids harsh words and speaks to benefit

d.             Avoids idle gossip and speaks at the right time, in accordance with the facts and to the point and purpose


4.       Samma Kammanta, Right Action or Conduct observes the precepts or abstentions, not as commandments (there is no moral authority in Buddhism) but as an ethic adopted to end suffering, and recognizes that all action or doing (Kamma, Karma) has consequences which may be escaped in advance by not doing wrong action.


5.       Samma Ajiva, Right Livelihood or Occupation abandons the ways of living which bring harm and suffering to others. Examples cited by the Buddha concerned trafficking in arms and lethal weapons, animals for slaughter, human beings, and intoxicating drinks and poisons. Modern examples might include making wants seem like needs to sell products to the insecure.


6.       Samma Vayama, Right Effort or Endeavor is the cultivation of diligence and persistence to:  

a.       Keep the unwholesome thought from arising

b.       Set aside the arisen unwholesome thought

c.       Create and nurture the wholesome thought

d        Promote and maintain the wholesome thought


Discrimination and good judgment are supported in Buddhism. Not all thoughts are valid.


7.       Samma Sati, Right Mindfulness or Awareness is the contemplation of and attention to the four foundations of mindfulness (Satipatthana):  

a.       Kayanupassana, activities of the physical body

b.      Vedananupassana, feelings or sensations

c.       Cittanupassana, consciousness

d.            Dhammanupassana, objects of the mind


Even the simplest life is full, rich and sufficient.


8.       Samma Samadhi, Right Concentration. Meditation proceeds through

four levels or stages of meditative absorption/stillness (Jhana, Dhyana):  

a.        Detachment from the senses

b.       Detachment from thought conception and discursive thinking

c.        Dwelling beyond pleasure and pain in rapture and joy

d.       Dwelling beyond rapture and joy in equanimity

III.   Progress on the Path


There are ten fetters (Dasa Samyojanani) tying beings to the wheel of existence (Samsara), namely:  

1.       Sakkaya-ditthi, self-illusion or personality belief

2.       Vicikiccha, skeptical doubt

3.       Silabbata-paramansa, belief in rules and ritual

4.       Kama-raga, sensual craving

5.       Vyapada, ill will

6.       Rupa-raga, craving for substance

7.       Arupa-raga, craving the insubstantial

8.       Mana, conceit

9.       Uddhacca, restlessness

10.     Avijja, ignorance


Another formulation of ten troubles wanting correction are the ten defilements (Kilesa, Klesha), beginning with the three poisons:  

1.       Lobha, greed

2.       Dosa, hate

3.       Moha, delusion

4.       Mana, conceit or pride

5.       Ditthi, speculative views

6.       Vicikiccha, skeptical doubt

7.       Thina, mental torpor

8.       Uddhacca, restlessness

9.       Ahirika, shamelessness

10.     Anottappa, unconscientiousness


Five hindrances (Nivaranani) are also discussed:  

1.       Kamacchanda, sensual desire

2.       Vyapada, ill will or hatred

3.       Thina-middha, torpor and sloth

4.       Uddhacca-kukkucca, restlessness and worry

5.       Vicikiccha, skeptical doubt


And four taints or corruptions (Asava):

1.       Kamasava, taints of sense

2.       Bhavasava, taints of being

3.       Ditthasava, taints of view

4.       Avijjasava, taints of ignorance


All the above may be considered worth the effort of elimination, of uprooting by means of vipassana-panna, insight wisdom.


On the positive side, the following ten perfections (parami, parimita) are worthy of cultivation:  

1.       Dana, generosity

2.       Sila, morality

3.       Nekkhamma, renunciation

4.       Panna, wisdom

5.       Viriya, energy

6.       Khanti, patience

7.       Sacca, truthfulness

8.       Adhitthana, resolution or determination

9.       Metta, loving kindness

10.     Upekkha, equanimity


The last two are also among the four sublime states (Brahma-vihara):  

1.       Metta, loving kindness

2.       Upekkha, equanimity

3.       Karuna, compassion

4.       Mudita, sympathetic joy


In the forty-five years of the Buddha’s teaching many such lists of vices and virtues were enumerated, and perhaps registered with more rigidity than was intended. In the end they suggest that the simple life is rich with things to be done. In the Buddha’s last words:  

Vayadhamma samkhara, appamadena samapadetha

Subject to change are all compound beings -

Save yourselves with heedfulness


Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BuddhistWellnessGroup/

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