Buddhist Teachings and Practice Paths

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Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as Giant Buddha, on Po Lin monistary. / Wikimedia Commons


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The Triple Gem

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Buddha Statue / Wikimedia Commons

1. The Buddha — The self awakened one. The original nature of the Heart;

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Dharma Wheel / Wikimedia Commons

2. The Dhamma — The Teaching. The nature of reality;

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Durga Puja Pandal – New Alipore Suruchi Sangha – Kolkata / Wikimedia Commons

3. The Sangha — a. The Awakened Community. b. Any harmonious assembly. c. All Beings.

The Four Noble Truths

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Color manuscript illustration of Buddha teaching the Four Noble Truths, Nalanda, Bihar, India / Wikimedia Commons

1. The Noble Truth of Dukkha – stress, unsatisfactoriness, suffering;
2. The Noble Truth of the causal arising of Dukkha, which is grasping, clinging and wanting;
3. The Noble Truth of Nirvana, The ending of Dukkha. Awakening, Enlightenment. “Mind like fire unbound”;
4. 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

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Juntei Kannon, Heian Period, Courtesy Tokyo National Museum

1. I vow to rescue the boundless living beings from suffering; (Link to 1st Truth)
2. I vow to put an end to the infinite afflictions of living beings; (Link to 2nd Truth)
3. I vow to learn the measureless Dharma-doors; (Link to 4th Truth)
4. 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

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Right, Integral, Complete, Perfected.

1. Right View, Understanding;
2. Right Attitude, Thought or Emotion;
3. Right Speech;
4. Right Action;
5. Right livelihood;
6. Right Effort, Energy, and Vitality;
7. Right Mindfulness or Awareness;
8. 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

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The Five Precepts – The Great Middle Way

I undertake to:

1. Abstain from killing living beings;
2. Abstain from taking that which not given;
3. Abstain from sexual misconduct;
4. Abstain from false speech;
5. 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:

1. Act with Loving-kindness;
2. Be open hearted and generous;
3. Practice stillness, simplicity and contentment;
4. Speak with truth, clarity and peace;
5. Live with mindfulness.

The Ten Paramita

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Paramita means gone to the other shore, it is the highest development of each of these qualities.

1. Giving or Generosity; *
2. Virtue, Ethics, Morality; *
3. Renunciation, letting go, not grasping;
4. Panna or Prajna “Wisdom” insight into the nature of reality; *
5. Energy, vigour, vitality, diligence; *
6. Patience or forbearance; *
7. Truthfulness;
8. Resolution, determination, intention;
9. Kindness, love, friendliness;
10. Equanimity.

* In Mahayana Buddhism, 6 are emphasised, they are, numbers l., 2., 4., 5., 6., Samadhi (see Path) & 4.

The Four Sublime or Uplifted States

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1. Metta — Friendliness, Loving-kindness;
2. Karuna — Compassion;
3. Mudita — Joy, Gladness. Appreciation of good qualities in people;
4. Upekkha — Equanimity, the peaceful unshaken mind.

Full development of these four states develops all of the Ten Paramita.

The Five Powers or Spiritual Faculties

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Molecular Thoughts / Wikimedia Commons

1.Faith, Confidence;
2. Energy, Effort;
3. Mindfulness;
4. Samadhi;
5. Wisdom.

The Five Hindrances

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1. Sense craving;
2. Ill-will;
3. Sloth and Torpor;
4, Restlessness and Worry;
5. Toxic doubt and the ruthless inner critic.

The Four Bases or Frames of Reference of Mindfulness

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1. Mindfulness of the Body — breath, postures, parts;
2. Mindfulness of Feelings, Sensations — pleasant, unpleasant and neutral;
3. Mindfulness of States of Consciousness;
4. Mindfulness of all Phenomena or Objects of Consciousness.

The Three Signs of Existence or Universal Properties

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1. Anicca — Impermanent;
2. Dukkha — Unsatisfactory, stress inducing;
3. 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”.

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