The Four Noble Truths:
- Life is suffering. Life is a process of physical decay and for most people this is preceded by a struggle to survive and illness.
- Attachment causes suffering. People seek pleasure from possessions and sensuality they develop egos and chase the very causes of negative karma so invariably the cycle of samsara continues. Nothing in the physical world can truthfully be said to be ‘mine’, equally there is no ‘I’.
- Suffering must end. People must alter their aspirations to break free of samsara, the cycle of rebirth.
- Suffering can end by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment:
This is the central message of The Buddha’s teachings and reflects his belief that the mind creates suffering, therefore, we are individually are in control of our own salvation.
To achieve this one must maintain positive karma by adhering to such positive behaviour as right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right way of living, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
The Eightfold Path reflects the Buddha’s wisdom on how to eliminate suffering by what is known as ‘the middle way’. A guide for individuals to reach nirvana and salvation from earthly suffering by understanding the causes of suffering, then taking responsibility of ones actions to live a balanced and ethical life.
Nirvāṇa, literally means “blown out”, as in an oil lamp. The term “nirvana” is most commonly associated with Buddhism, and represents its ultimate state of release and liberation from rebirths in saṃsāra.
In Indian religions, nirvana is synonymous with moksha and mukti. However, Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions describe these terms for liberation differently. In the Buddhist context, nirvana refers to realization of non-self and emptiness, marking the end of rebirth by stilling the fires that keep the process of rebirth going.
Belief in Ahimsa
The concept of ‘Ahimsa ‘ had its origins in the movement to oppose Animal Sacrifice initiated by the Buddha and Mahavira, in 6th B.C. During the time of the Buddha, many kinds of sacrifices were practised by Brahmins who were the priests of the Vedic religion professed by the upper castes of contemporary Indian society.
The Buddha did not see any value in these sacrifices, primarily because they were entirely external rites. “If one could speak of a ‘right sacrifice’, it had to be something that was internal or ‘spiritual’”.
Law of Karma
Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. It was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today.
Sangha, Buddhist monastic order, traditionally composed of four groups: monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. The sangha is a part—together with the Buddha and the dharma (teaching)—of the Threefold Refuge, a basic creed of Buddhism.
The Sangha originated in the group of disciples who renounced the worldly life to wander with the Buddha and listen to his teachings. After the Buddha’s death his disciples continued to live together as a community, wandering from place to place, living off the receipt of alms.
Fortnightly, at the time of the full and new moon, followers of the Buddha would gather to reaffirm their sense of community and purpose by reciting their basic beliefs, such as the Threefold Refuge and the codes of conduct. The custom of spending the rainy season in one place in a study retreat led gradually to the settling of the community.