Buddhist teachings
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Buddhist teachings. The 3 Marks of Existence. In Hinduism, the goal is to be liberated from Samsara and become one with Brahman- the ultimate reality. The Buddha discovered something else: no self. Everything, within and without, is changing

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Buddhist teachings

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Buddhist teachings

Buddhist teachings

The 3 marks of existence

The 3 Marks of Existence

  • In Hinduism, the goal is to be liberated from Samsara and become one with Brahman- the ultimate reality.

  • The Buddha discovered something else: no self.

  • Everything, within and without, is changing

  • The Buddha summarizes this changing nature of reality by noting Three Marks of Existence:

  • No self (Anatta)

  • Impermanence (Anicca)

  • Suffering (Dukkha)

No self anatta

Anatta (no-self)

No-self (Anatta)

  • Anatta means there is no ultimate reality within, no essence underlying existence

  • Rather than finding Atman, the Buddha found “no-self”

  • The essence of Buddhism is, there is no essence

  • Example: where were you 10 years ago?

    • You simply did not exits 10 yrs. ago

    • You simply do not exist now

      • You, in the future, will not be the “you” you are now

Impermanence anicca

Anicca means impermanence

It focuses on the idea that existence is constantly changing

Life is a constant change

Nothing we experience in life ever remains the same

We get used to things – our own face, family, friends, house, car, neighborhood- that seem to remain the same but that is an illusion for they are changing daily

E.g. a river

We may perceive the river as a real and unchanging thing, but actually it is an ongoing flow, a constant sequence of change.

The same occurs to the self: it appears to be real and unchanging, but in fact it is an ongoing flow

Impermanence (Anicca)

Suffering dukkha

Suffering (Dukkha)

  • Dukkha means suffering or sorrow but also dissatisfaction

  • It refers to the fact that life can never be fully satisfying because of its inescapable change.

  • It is the natural result of anicca and anatta

3 marks exercise

3 Marks exercise

The four noble truths

The four noble truths

The 4 noble truths are the creed for Buddhism

The 4 noble truths lead to liberation/nirvana

During the Third Watch of the night of his enlightenment Gautama perceived the Four Noble Truths:

To live is to suffer

Suffering is caused by desire

Suffering can be brought to cessation

The solution to suffering is the Noble Eight-fold path

1 st truth to live is to suffer dukkha

1st Truth: To live is to suffer (Dukkha)

  • Birth, old age, disease, death

  • To live means to experience anxiety, loss, and even anguish

  • Having a body means that we can be tired and sick

  • Having a mind means that we can be troubled and discouraged

  • The past cannot be relived and the future is uncertain

2 nd truth suffering comes from desire tanha

2nd Truth: Suffering comes from desire (Tanha)

  • The Buddha saw that suffering comes from wanting what we cannot have and from never being satisfied with what we do have

  • Tanha can be translated as desire, thirst, craving

  • Some desires are: food, clothing, friendship, beauty

  • Desire is insatiable

3 rd truth suffering has an end

3rd Truth: Suffering has an end

  • this truth goes against Western notions

  • Any kind of attachment will bring suffering

    • Material possession

    • Loved ones

  • The shaven head and special clothing of monks and nuns symbolize their radical detachment from worldly concerns

  • The essence of this truth is this: I cannot change the outside world, but I can change myself and the way I experience the world

4 th truth the solution to end suffering

4th Truth: the solution to end suffering

  • The solution to end suffering is the 8-fold path:

    • The way to inner peace

  • The 8-fold path is represented in Buddhist art by a wheel with 8 spokes

  • The 8 steps of the path form a program that leads to liberation from the impermanence and suffering of reality.

  • The word right in the following list is a translation of a word that might better be translated as correct

  • Right views

  • Right intentions

  • Right speech

  • Right conduct

  • Right livelihood

  • Right effort

  • Right mindfulness

  • Right meditation

Buddhist teachings

Karma in Buddhist world:

The moral law of cause and effect

It functions hand in hand with samsara

The nature of one’s rebirth depends on the status of one’s karma

Because Buddhism denies the transference of any self or soul, personal identity depends entirely on karma.

When an individual dies, his or her karma continues on its particular trajectory, as it were, bringing about rebirth.

At conception the new person is possessed of this particular status brought on by the karma of the previous life.

The 5 pricepts

The 5 Pricepts

Because karma is affected by the moral adequacy of one’s actions, morality is of pressing concern for Buddhism.

The moral life requires observance of the Five Precepts:

Do not take life

Do not take what is not given

Do not engage in sensuous misconduct

Do not use false speech

Do not drink intoxicants

Buddhist teachings

The five precepts apply to all Buddhists.

The following precepts are added for monks and nuns:

6. Do not eat after noon (12:00)

7. Do not watch dancing or shows

8. Do not use garlands, perfumes, or ornaments.

9. Do not use a high or soft bed.

10. Do not accept gold or silver.


So, if you follow the 8-fold path, and you end all desires, then what?

Nirvana literally means “blowing out” (ie like a candle). Nirvana happens when all desires stop.

No desires = No more Karma

No Karma = No more re-birth.


Nirvana vs final nirvana

Nirvana vs. Final Nirvana

  • Wait…The Buddha obtained Nirvana by becoming enlightened. For the next 30-40 years he teaches the dharma, so we know he continued to exist. If Nirvana means the end of Karma, why didn’t the Buddha just disappear after becoming enlightened?

  • Answer: Nirvana simply means you stop producing Karma because he stopped all desires and hence all actions. All individuals who reach enlightenment still have “residual karma” they have to “burn up.”

  • When that residual Karma is “burned up,” then the enlightened being can enter into “Final Nirvana” by dying and not returning to Earth by being reborn.

Buddha dies at age 80

Buddha dies at age 80

  • So, what is this “Final Nirvana?” Is it an afterlife? Will you enjoy it?

  • The Buddha specifically refused to answer this and many other philosophical questions concerning God or an afterlife. How could the Buddha describe something he hadn’t yet done?

  • The Buddha promised only two things about final nirvana: It was the end of suffering and the end of re-birth.


An arhat is someone who has attained enlightenment but has not died yet

The Buddha was an arhat

Arhats are considered saints


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