Twelve Principles of Buddhism  


CHAPTER XXI
he welve rinciples of uddhism
(DRAFTED BY THE BUDDHIST SOCIETY, LONDON, IN )
1. Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay
wounded by a poison arrow and he would not delay extraction
by demanding details of the man who shot it, or the length
and make of the arrow. ere will be time for ever-increasing
understanding of the Teaching during the treading of the Way.
Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by
direct and personal experience.
2. e first fact of existence is the law of change or imperma-
nence. All that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought
to an empire, passes through the same cycle of existence, namely,
birth, growth, decay and death. Life alone is continuous, even
seeking self-expression in new forms. `Life is a bridge; therefore
build no house on it.' Life is a process of flow, and he who clings
to any form, however splendid will suffer by resisting the flow.
3. e law of change applies equal y to the `soul'. ere is no
principle in an individual which is immortal and unchanging.
Only the `Namelessness', the ultimate Reality, is beyond change
and all forms of life, including man, are manifestations of the
Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him any more than
the electric light bulb owns the current that gives it light.


4. e universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes,
and man's soul or character is the sum total of his previous
thoughts and acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all
existence, and man is the sole creator of his circumstances and
his reaction to them, his future condition, and his final destiny.
By right thought and action he can gradual y purify his inner
nature, and so by self-realisation attain in time liberation from
rebirth. e process covers great periods of time, involving life
after life on earth, but ultimately every form of life will reach
Enlightenment.
5. Life is one and indivisible, though its everchanging forms are
innumerable and perishable. ere is, in truth, no death, though
every form must die. From an understanding of life's unity arises
compassion, a sense of identity with the life in other forms.
Compassion is described as the `Law of laws-eternal harmony',
and he who breaks this harmony of life will suffer accordingly
and delay his own Enlightenment.
6. Life being One, the interests of the parts should be those of
the whole. In his ignorance man thinks he can succes ively strive
for his own interests, and this wrongly directed energy of selfish-
nes produces suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce
and final y eliminate it cause. the Buddha taught the Four Noble
Truths:(a) e omnipresence of suffering.
(b) Its cause, wrongly directed desires.
(c) Its cure, the removal of the cause.
(d) e Noble Eightfold Path of self-development
which leads to the end of suffering.


7. e Eightfold Path consists in Right (or perfect) Views,
or preliminary understanding, Right Aims or Motive, Right
Speech, Right Acts, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right
Concentration or mind development, and, final y, Right
Samadhi, leading to full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a way
of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is
essential to self-deliverance. `Cease to do evil, learn to do good,
cleanse your own heart: this is the Teaching of the Buddhas'.
8. Reality is indescribable, and a God with at ributes is not
the final Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the
Al -Enlightened One, and the purpose of life is the attainment
of Enlightenment. is state of Consciousness, Nirvana, the
extinction of the limitations of self-hood, is attainable on earth.
All men and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of
Enlightenment, and the process therefore consists in becoming
what you are. `Look within: thou art Buddha'.
9. From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the
Middle Way, the Eightfold Way `from desire to peace', a
process of self-development between the `opposites', avoiding all
extremes. e Buddha trod this Way to the end, and the only
faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable belief that where a
Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread. e Way must
be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him, and
heart and mind must be developed equal y. e Buddha was the
Al -Compassionate as well as the Al -Enlightened One.
10. Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentra-
tion and meditation, which leads in time to the development of


the inner spiritual faculties. e subjective life is as important
as the daily round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are
essential for a balanced life. e Buddhist should at all times be
`mindful and self-possessed', refraining from mental and emo-
tional attachment to `the passing show'. is increasing watchful
at itude to circumstances, which he knows to be his own crea-
tion, helps him to keep his reaction to it always under control.
11. e Buddha said: `Work out your own salvation with dili-
gence'. Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intui-
tion of the individual, and that is authority for himself alone.
Each man suffers the consequences of his own acts, and learns
thereby, while helping his fel ow men to the same deliverance;
nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an effect
from fol owing its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and ex-
amplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the
individual. e utmost tolerance is practised towards all other
religions and philosophies, for no man has the right to interfere
in his neighbours's journey to the Goal.
12. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor `escapist', nor does it deny
the existence of God or soul, though it places its own meaning on
these terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion,
a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical,
and al -embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied
the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals
to the West because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and
the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for
other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psy-
chology, ethics and art, and points to man alone, as the creator
of his present life and the sole designer of his destiny.

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