Buddhist Basics. . .
For both the experience buddhist practitioner and the beginner there are many terms, concepts and practices to learn more about and understand. Today I wish to give a big overview of the many facets and practices of buddhism and hope that enriches your curiosity and understanding as you develop and walk your own unique path.
The Triple Gem
The Buddha — The self awakened one. The original nature of the Heart;
The Dhamma — The Teaching. The nature of reality;z
The Sangha — a. The Awakened Community. b. Any harmonious assembly. c. All Beings.
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Truth of Dukkha – stress, unsatisfactoriness, suffering;
The Noble Truth of the causal arising of Dukkha, which is grasping, clinging and wanting;
The Noble Truth of Nirvana, The ending of Dukkha. Awakening, Enlightenment. “Mind like fire unbound”;
The Noble Truth of the Path leading to Nirvana or Awakening. All Buddhist teachings flow from the Four Noble Truths. Particularly emphasised in the Theravada.
The Four Bodhisattva Vows
I vow to rescue the boundless living beings from suffering; (Link to 1st Truth)
I vow to put an end to the infinite afflictions of living beings; (Link to 2nd Truth)
I vow to learn the measureless Dharma-doors; (Link to 4th Truth)
I vow to realise the unsurpassed path of the Buddha. (Link to 3th Truth) Foundation of the Mahayana Path, these vows say. ‘Whatever the highest perfection of the human heart-mind may I realise it for the benefit of all that lives!’
The Eight Fold-Path
Right, Integral, Complete, Perfected.
Right View, Understanding;
Right Attitude, Thought or Emotion;
Right Effort, Energy, and Vitality;
Right Mindfulness or Awareness;
Right Samadhi “concentration”, one-pointedness. Integration of, or establishment in, various levels of consciousness.
Alternate meanings are given as the original Pali has shades of meaning not available in one English word.
The Five Precepts
I undertake to:
Abstain from killing sentient beings;
Abstain from taking that which not given;
Abstain from sexual misconduct;
Abstain from false speech;
Abstain from distilled substances that confuse the mind. (Alcohol and Drugs)
The underlying principle is non-exploitation of yourself or others. The precepts are the foundation of all Buddhist training. With a developed ethical base, much of the emotional conflict and stress that we experience is resolved, allowing commitment and more conscious choice. Free choice and intention is important. It is “I undertake” not ‘Thou Shalt”. Choice, not command.
The Five Precepts in positive terms
I undertake the training precept to:
Act with Loving-kindness;
Be open hearted and generous;
Practice stillness, simplicity and contentment;
Speak with truth, clarity and peace;
Live with mindfulness.
The Ten Paramita
Paramita means gone to the other shore, it is the highest development of each of these qualities.
Giving or Generosity; *
Virtue, Ethics, Morality; *
Renunciation, letting go, not grasping;
Panna or Prajna “Wisdom” insight into the nature of reality; *
Energy, vigour, vitality, diligence; *
Patience or forbearance; *
Resolution, determination, intention;
Kindness, love, friendliness;
The Four Sublime or Uplifted States
Metta — Friendliness, Loving-kindness;
Karuna — Compassion;
Mudita — Joy, Gladness. Appreciation of good qualities in people;
Upekkha — Equanimity, the peaceful unshaken mind.
Full development of these four states develops all of the Ten Paramita.
The Five Powers or Spiritual Faculties
The Five Hindrances
Sloth and Torpor;
Restlessness and Worry;
Toxic doubt and the ruthless inner critic.
The Four bases or Frames of Reference of Mindfulness
Mindfulness of the Body — breath, postures, parts;
Mindfulness of Feelings, Sensations — pleasant, unpleasant and neutral;
Mindfulness of States of Consciousness;
Mindfulness of all Phenomena or Objects of Consciousness.
The Three Signs of Existence or Universal Properties
Anicca — Impermanent;
Dukkha — Unsatisfactory, stress inducing;
Anatta — Insubstantial or Not-self.
All compounded and conditioned things, all phenomena are impermanent. Because of this they give rise to Stress and Affliction and because of this they are Not-self What we call “self ” is a process not a ‘thing”.
Sometimes we feel lost and have no idea how to handle the challenges of life and accomplish our positive goals. We’re even stumped about how to get along better with others. When we look to the traditional Buddhist teachings, we find an abundance of practical guidelines that are helpful for anyone, at any time, in any culture.
Peace and Love, Jim