Story of Buddha &The Four Noble Truths


1.      Story of the Buddha

2.      Basic Concepts


Three Marks of Reality:

a.      Anicca - impermanence.  All things, including ourselves, in flux. One tries but cannot cling to anything, as all things arise and pass.

                                                  i.      Samsara is a chain -- eliminate one link, exit from the process. Weakest links: ignorance and craving.  Eliminated through meditation, learning, behavior change.

b.      Dukkha: suffering, unsatisfactoriness

c.       Anatman: No Self

                                                  i.      There is no permanent reality behind phenomenal reality: all is process, change.

                                                ii.      Right perception reveals that there is no permanent, underlying thing that is constant

1.      There is no self that is constant:  he individual is composed of “groups of events” (skandas): Bodily events, perceptions, feelings, dispositions, states of consciousness.  = temporary combination of such events

                                              iii.      There is transmigration but no permanent soul

                                              iv.      Nirvana: "blowing out."  Ineffable, transcendental state, ultimate.  Involves no union with God. Escapes ordinary language:

Four Noble Truths


1.      Life is dominated by suffering: Separation from the things you love; not getting what it is you want. Unavoidable experience of things you despise: sickness, old age, death.

2.      The cause of suffering is desire and craving

a.      The cycle of rebirth, suffering, death, perpetuated by desire.  Clinging to the impermanent.

3.      Release from suffering is possible.  Stop clinging. Craving for sensual experience, for better rebirth, even for extinction, can be renounced.  Blowing out the flame of a candle.

4.      The way out of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.

d.      Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. 

e.      These lead to release from samsara.

f.        Asvagosha’s division of the eightfold path:

                                                  i.      Morality: speech, action, livelihood

                                                ii.      Meditation: effort, mindfullness, concentration

                                              iii.      Insight or Wisdom: views and thought


Major Sects in Buddhism


  1. Major questions that have divided Buddhism (and religions in general) into its sects:
    1. Are people independent or interdependent? – a social dimension
    2. What is the basic relationship between human beings and the universe?  Is the universe friendly, indifferent, hostile? – a cosmological dimension
    3. What is the best part of the human self, its head or its heart?  Feeling or intellect? – an anthropological dimension

  2. Mahayana and Theravada