Buddha’s Middle Path and Three Marks of Reality


1.      The Idea of a Buddha

a.       Buddha is not a name but a type of person

                                                   i.      An enlightened individual, many of whom appear successively, at certain intervals

                                                 ii.      “Historical” Buddha - (6th/5th Cent BCE) – Shakyamuni

2.      Life of the Buddha

a.       The Buddha Shakyamuni Gautama Siddhartha (563-483 B.C.E.):Shakyamuni = sage of the shakyas, Gautama = family lineage, Siddhartha = "success." NE India

b.      Important Historical Points in the life of the Buddha:

                                                   i.      Birth: 563 BCE, Lumbini Grove

                                                 ii.      Enlightenment: 528 BCE Bodh Gaya

                                                iii.      First Sermon: Deer park near Sarnath (near Banaras)

                                               iv.      Death: 483 BCE Kusinagara (from rancid food)

c.       Sequence: birth, prophesy, youth and marriage, the awakening (chariott rides), dissillusionment and withdrawal, sanyasa, elightenment

3.      Three Marks of Reality (or) Looking at life as it really is.

a.       Dukkha: suffering, dissatisfaction, unease

                                                   i.      The Buddha analyzed he nature and causes of suffering, like a doctor diagnosing an disease, to understand and overcome them.  Buddhism is not inherently pessimistic.  Attempt to see things as they are, decide on the best way to respond to them. 


b.      Anicca: impermanence, change

                                                   i.      We are surprised by change, often disturbed.  We get used to things. All things, including ourselves, in flux.

                                                 ii.      One tries but cannot cling to anything, as all things arise and pass.

                                                iii.      For example: The shock of change: seeing old friends appearance, your own face, physical change, divorce, death, illness.

b.      Anatta: no permanent self.

                                                   i.      No permanent reality behind phenomenal reality: all is process, change. No self that is constant.

                                                 ii.      The Individual = Groups of events (skandas): Bodily events, perceptions, feelings, dispositions, states of consciousness.  The individual is a temporary combination of such events

                                                iii.      There is transmigration but no permanent soul

                                               iv.      Nirvana is a "blowing out."  An ineffable, transcendental state, ultimate.

o       Involves no union with God.

o       Escapes ordinary language



1.      Dukkha

2.      Anicca

3.      Anatta

4.      Nirvana