|What e Buddha Taught|
Dharma is the word Buddhists use, in general, to describe the
teachings of the Buddha. It points to the Truth and is neither
an ordinary philosophy nor an ordinary system, it is a moral
and philosophical teaching that can be tested and verified by
personal experience. All are welcome to experience it and those
who have not can hardly call themselves Buddhists.
Dharma realisation is extremely important as it leads to ultimate
happiness. Dharma is a Sanskrit term which literal y means `that
which holds', so that those who exert great effort to achieve its
realisation will be freed from sufferings, fears, dangers and delu-
sion. Here are some of the key teachings of the Buddha which
all Buddhists must have a clear understanding of otherwise
Buddhism will not be very meaningful to them and they may
fall prey to superstitious beliefs and practices.
he our oble ruths
After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha made His way to the
Deer Park in Isipatana near Benares and there He gave His first
discourse to His first five disciples which is known as "e Dis-
course of the Set ing in Motion of the Wheel of the Doctrine".
He declared that those who wish to lead a pure life should
avoid the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Self-indulgence is the constant attachment to sensual pleasures
which the Buddha described as "low, vulgar, ignoble, harmful
and profitless", which surely retards one's spiritual progress. Self-
mortification or self-torture of the body for the sake of religious
belief, which is not usual y practised by the ordinary person, is
"painful, ignoble, harmful and profitless", which weakens one's
e Buddha himself had gone through both these extremes in
His search for enlightenment and said that "He (the Tathagata)
realising the error of both these two extremes, fol owed a middle
way." He therefore asked His fol owers to take the Middle Way
which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to
peace of mind, to higher wisdom, and to full enlightenment.
e Buddha then expounded the Four Noble Truths:
1. Life is subject to all kinds of Suffering (Dukkha).
2. is Suffering is caused by Ignorance which results
3. is Suffering can be eliminated by the elimination
4. e Way to eliminate Desire and attachment.
e Buddha discovered these truths and revealed them to the ig-
norant world. We can, therefore, put an end to sorrow by adopt-
ing the Middle Way which, to all Buddhists, is the philosophy
of life itself. is Middle Way of self-conquest which leads to
a complete cessation of suffering and sorrow, which is Nirvana,
the ultimate goal of Buddhists is known as the Noble Eightfold
Path, which consists of:
1. Right Understanding
2. Right ought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
Understanding the meaning of the Four Noble Truths is essen-
tial to cultivation otherwise the essence of the Buddha's teaching
will be lost.
e First Noble Truth of Suffering reveals to us that everyone
is subject to birth, consequently decay, then disease and final y
death. No one is exempted from these four causes of suffering.
Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, disease is suffering, death is
suffering, to be associated with things or persons one detests is
suffering, to be separated fron the pleasant is suffering and not
to get what one desires is also suffering.
Buddhism may put much emphasis on the under standing of
suffering but it does not fol ow that it is a pessimistic religion.
It is neither total y pessimistic nor total y optimistic, it teaches
a truth that lies between them, it teaches one to see things as
they are. Whilst emphasizing the truth of suffering, the Buddha
shows us the way to get rid of our suffering and gain the highest
e Second Truth of the Cause of Suffering reveals to us that it is
craving which produces rebirth which is accompanied by passion-
ate clinging, desiring for this and that in life. It is the craving for
sensual pleasures for wealth, for fame and materialistic possessions
of life that are the causes of the great dissatisfaction with life.
e Dhammapada states:
`From craving springs grief,
from craving springs fear;
For him who is whol y free
from craving, there is no
grief, whence fear?'
It is this gross and subtle craving that leads to repeated births in
Samsara and that which makes one cling to all forms of life.
e ird Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is the com-
plete separation from, and the destruction of, this very craving
which is a state of absolute quietude, the Bliss Supreme, Nirvana,
wherein all the sufferings in human life are extinguished.
e Fourth Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering
is the Noble Eightfold Path, the golden means of the Buddha.
e Four Noble Truths teach us to face the reality of human suf-
fering, which is, the Truth of Suffering; to grasp its real cause,
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