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Buddhism 101

Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path, by Bhikkhu Bodhi, describes the way to the end of suffering, as it was laid out by the Buddha. It is a practical guideline that will lead its practitioner towards self-awakening.

The eight elements are divided into three basic categories as follows:

    Path                                            Category

  1. Right view                               Wisdom (Pali: pañña)

  2. Right intention

  3. Right speech                           Ethical conduct (Pali: sila)

  4. Right action

  5. Right livelihood

  6. Right effort                             Mental discipline (Pali: samadhi)

  7. Right mindfulness

  8. Right concentration

In all of the elements of the Noble Eightfold Path, the word "right" is a translation of the word samma (Pali), which denotes completion, togetherness, and coherence. Though the path is numbered one through eight, it is generally not considered to be a series of linear steps through which one must progress; rather, the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path are to be developed more or less simultaneously, as far as possible according to the capacity of each individual. They are all linked together and each helps the cultivation of the others.

 

Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths (Pali: cattari ariyasaccani) are one of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings. In broad terms, these truths relate to suffering's nature, origin, cessation and the path leading to the cessation. They are among the truths the Buddha is said to have realized during his experience of enlightenment.

The Four Noble Truths appear many times throughout the most ancient of Buddhist texts, the Pali Canon. Strictly speaking, "truths" is a mistranslation; "realities" would be better: these are "things", not statements, in the original grammar.

The Four Noble Truths are: There is suffering. There is a cause to suffering. There is an end to suffering. The is a path out of suffering (the Noble Eightfold Path).

The Reality of Suffering - dukkha

The Cause of Suffering - samudaya

The Cessation of Suffering - nirodha

The Path to the Cessation of Suffering - magga

 

Precepts

The foundation of the Buddhist path is a life of non-harming, which expresses compassion in our relationship to all living things.

Entry into the Buddhist path is marked by taking the Five Precepts:

  • To refrain from killing living beings. Reverence for life.

  • To refrain from stealing or taking what is not ours. Respect for others.

  • To refrain from sexual misconduct that causes harm to ourselves or others. Respect for the power of sexuality.

  • To refrain from false speech. Respect for the power of language and communication.

  • To refrain from using alcohol or drugs that intoxicate the mind. Recognizing that we have all we need to be happy.

 

These ethical guidelines are the natural outer expression of realization and through their guidance we discover the heart of compassion within us.

 

Three Jewels

Taking Refuge

Those who follow the Dharma ”take refuge”, formally or informally, and in this way acknowledge the spiritual protection or support offered by the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha, also known as The Three Jewels and The Triple Gem.

Buddha

The Buddha, by his own efforts as a human being came to realize and understand the the nature of suffering, the cause of suffering and path to the end of suffering. When we take refuge in the Buddha we reaffirm our own Buddha nature and our potential for achieving ”the sure heart’s release”.

Dharma

The term refers to the Buddha’s teachings, or more specifically to “the truth” or “the way things are” (translations of the Sanskrit word). These lead us on the path of awakening.

Sangha

Those who practice/live the teachings of the Buddha are members of the Sangha, or community of followers of the Buddha Dharma. It once referred only to the community of monks, but now refers, as well, to both large and smaller groups of those who follow the Dharma, as well as all who practice, world-wide, in the Buddhist traditions.

 

What is Vipassana

Vipassana or Mindfulness Meditation is a profound practice used by countless seekers, regardless of religion, for over 2600 years to quiet the mind, to open the heart and to see clearly our true nature. It cultivates a sense of wholeness that brings us into awareness of moment-to-moment experience.

Cultivating awareness of breath, body and the processes of heart and mind, it offer insight into the true nature of reality. It teaches us how to live more fully in the present moment, how to open more gracefully to the ups and downs of life and how to meet ourselves and others with more acceptance and love. It is considered a wisdom practice.

What is Metta

"Metta", translated as "lovingkindness" or "friendliness", is a formal practice originally taught by the Buddha as an antidote to fear. When we practice Metta, we awaken to our own intrinsic wholeness, and develop an attitude of open-hearted acceptance of ourselves, of others and of life. Lovingkindness is the cornerstone that supports the other qualities of heart: Compassion, Appreciative Joy and Equanimity. Lovingkindness (Metta) practice deepens concentration and is a complementary practice to Mindfulness (Vipassana/Insight).