Buddhism > Buddha Teachings
Teachings of the Teachings
The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths contain the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. It was these four principles that the Buddha came to understand during his meditation under the bodhi tree.
- Dukkha ဒုက္ခသစ္စာ – The truth of suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness
- Dukkha-Samudāya သမုဒ္ဓယသစ္စာ – The truth of the origin of suffering
- Dukkha-Nirodha နိရောဓသစ္စာ – The truth of the cessation of suffering
- Dukkha-Nirodha-Marga မဂ္ဂသစ္စာ – The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering
The Buddha is often compared to a physician. In the first two Noble Truths he diagnosed the problem (suffering) and identified its cause. The third Noble Truth is the realisation that there is a cure.
The fourth Noble Truth, in which the Buddha set out the Eightfold Path, is the prescription, the way to achieve a release from suffering.
The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path of Buddhism, also called the Middle Path or Middle Way, is the system of following these eight divisions of the path to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cease suffering:
The Eightfold Path
1. Samma-Ditthi သမ္မာဒိဋ္ဌိ – Complete or Perfect Vision, also translated as right view or understanding. Vision of the nature of reality and the path of transformation.
2. Samma-Sankappa သမ္မာသင်္ကပ္ပ – Perfected Emotion or Aspiration, also translated as right thought or attitude. Liberating emotional intelligence in your life and acting from love and compassion. An informed heart and feeling mind that are free to practice letting go.
3. Samma-Vaca သမ္မာဝါစာ – Perfected or whole Speech. Also called right speech. Clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication.
4. Samma-Kammanta သမ္မာကမ္မန္တ – Integral Action. Also called right action. An ethical foundation for life based on the principle of non-exploitation of oneself and others. The five precepts.
5. Samma-Ajiva သမ္မာအာဇီဝ – Proper Livelihood. Also called right livelihood. This is a livelihood based on correct action the ethical principal of non-exploitation. The basis of an Ideal society.
6. Samma-Vayama သမ္မာဝါယာမ – Complete or Full Effort, Energy or Vitality. Also called right effort or diligence. Consciously directing our life energy to the transformative path of creative and healing action that fosters wholeness. Conscious evolution.
7. Samma-Sati သမ္မာသတိ – Complete or Thorough Awareness. Also called “right mindfulness”. Developing awareness, “if you hold yourself dear watch yourself well”. Levels of Awareness and mindfulness – of things, oneself, feelings, thought, people and Reality.
8. Samma-Samadhi သမ္မာသမာဓိ Full, Integral or Holistic Samadhi. This is often translated as concentration, meditation, absorption or one-pointedness of mind. None of these translations is adequate. Samadhi literally means to be fixed, absorbed in or established at one point, thus the first level of meaning is concentration when the mind is fixed on a single object. The second level of meaning goes further and represents the establishment, not just of the mind, but also of the whole being in various levels or modes of consciousness and awareness. This is Samadhi in the sense of enlightenment or Buddhahood.
The Three Marks of Existence (Tilakhana)
The Buddha also discovered that all existence has three characteristics.
The Three marks of existence, are characteristics shared by all sentient beings. A full understanding of these three can bring an end to suffering. The Buddha taught that all beings conditioned by causes are impermanent (anicca) and suffering (dukkhā) while he said not-self (anattā) characterises all dhammas meaning there is no “I” or “mine” in the conditioned as well as the unconditioned. The central figure of Buddhism, Siddhartha is believed to have achieved Nirvana and awakening after much meditation, thus becoming the Buddha Shakyamuni. With the faculty of wisdom the Buddha directly perceived that all sentient beings (everything in the phenomenology of psychology) are marked by these three characteristics.
All things are impermanent, and everything is in the process of changing into something else. For example, we are all in the process of aging. Even the stars and galaxies are in the process of change.
Anicca “inconstancy” or “impermanence”. This refers to the fact that all conditioned things are in a constant state of flux. In reality there is no thing that ultimately ceases to exist; only the appearance of a thing ceases as it changes from one form to another. Imagine a leaf that falls to the ground and decomposes. While the appearance and relative existence of the leaf ceases, the components that formed the leaf become particulate material that may go on to form new plants. Buddhism teaches a middle way, avoiding the extreme views of eternalism and nihilism
Because all things are impermanent, existence is subject to dukkha.
Dukkha meaning “suffering” or “dissatisfaction” suggest nothing found in the physical world or even the psychological realm can bring lasting deep satisfaction. There will always be the craving for the pleasant, and the aversion to the unpleasant, resulting from the ever-changing nature of existence.
There is no permanent or unchanging self. The ‘self’ which we are conditioned to believe exists, is comprised of nothing more than different mental and physical constituents, which are in a state of constant change because of Cause and Effect.
Anatta “non-Self” is used in the suttas both as a noun and as a predicative adjective to denote that phenomena are not, or are without, a self; to describe any and all composite, consubstantial, phenomenal and temporal things, from the macrocosmic to microcosmic, be it matter pertaining to the physical body or the cosmos at large, as well as any and all mental machinations, which are impermanent.