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Buddhism. Teachings and Development . Teachings of Buddha. Contrary to traditional Indian thought there is no ultimate reality of things The permanence of atman and Brahman is an illusion All things are transient and impermanent. teachings (cont.).

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Teachings and Development

teachings of buddha
Teachings of Buddha
  • Contrary to traditional Indian thought there is no ultimate reality of things
    • The permanence of atman and Brahman is an illusion
  • All things are transient and impermanent
teachings cont
teachings (cont.)
  • Reality consists of a succession of consecutive impersonal events (dharmas); a series of manifestations and extinctions
    • Dharmas do not have a permanent existence, but are always changing thus there is no individual ego or self
      • Eg. Nagasena – the illustration of the chariot
    • Anatman – the no-self
    • There is no ‘self’ to be reborn, nothing like a soul to transmigrate.
    • What transmigrates is the subjective effect of karma/deeds which follow one in the process of rebirth
    • N.b. this is the orthodox Theraveda position; some schools of thought different
teachings of buddhism the three marks of existence
Teachings of Buddhism: The Three Marks of Existence
  • Three Marks/Characteristics of Existence: All is suffering, all is transient, all is no-self
    • Dukkha: suffering; all existence is permeated by suffering
    • Anicca: transience/impermanence- all things are vanishing and dissolving from moment to moment
    • An-atman:no self: Idea of a permanent, unchanging ego as the basis of individual personality is a fiction; no permanent soul (cf. Hinduism)
teachings cont principle of dependent co arising
Teachings (cont.): Principle of Dependent Co-Arising
  • Principle of Dependant Co-Arising or Origination (often equated with Dharma); The 12 hubs of the wheel of existence
    • As a function of ignorance
    • ‘psychic structures’ arise; impulses of the will directed at existing objects, and existence itself. Arise in the person who lacks redeeming knowledge. As a function of these ‘structures’
    • consciousness arises after death, causing personal existence; as a function of that,
    • the body develops, and further
    • the six organs of sense ( the 5 senses plus thought); from this follows
    • Contact of these sense organs (including thought/mental processes) with their objects. From this
    • sensations and feelings arise which causes
    • craving Literally ‘thirst) for objects and existence. After death, this thirst causes new becoming-forces
    • bringing about the seizing of a new womb, to becoming, to the new
    • birth. Which brings one about again to
    • Renewals of existence (rebirth) which leads to
    • Old age and death which causes ignorance again
principle of dependent co arising explained
Principle of dependent co-arising explained
  • Ignorance (not starting point but underlying cause of human suffering) of the true nature of reality, especially Four Noble Truths leads to
  • conceiving which begins conceptualizing (i.e. processes turn into objects). This creates a latch for the mind to hold onto which then
  • conditions the mind that now makes distinctions (e.g. self or this, that) and thus gives rise to consciousness/mental awareness which gives rise to
  • personal existence and the body which now is a reference point which uses
  • senses to experience objects and referents which then leads to
  • a more conscious (fuller understanding/meaning) form of direct observation and encounter (Here is the stage at which we can apply mindful awareness to break the chain that leads to suffering.) which gives rise to
  • Sensations and experience
12 fold chain explained
12-fold chain explained
  • craving Literally ‘thirst) for objects and existence. After death, this thirst causes new becoming-forces
  • bringing about the seizing of a new womb, to becoming, to the new
  • birth. Which brings one about again to
  • Renewals of existence (rebirth) which leads to
  • Old age and death which causes ignorance again

Wheel of Becoming

Center circle animals representing lust, hatred and delusion

dove = passion

snake = hatred

pig = stupidity/delusion

Second circle

left- fate of those with good karma

right- fate of those with bad karma

Third circle

six spheres of existence/destinies from the gods to hell (originally five destinies; increased to six in Tibetan Buddhism)





human beings

rebel gods (Tibetan addition)

Outer circle- 12 fold chain of causation –chain of cause and effect

Demon grasping wheel is Mara, representing death and impermanence (the whole is swallowed by impermanence)

causality cont
Causality (cont.)
  • Interconnectedness
  • The principle of causality is the normative principle of Buddhism
  • Causality- every event is caused by a prior event having itself been the subject of many conditions
  • Breaking the chain of causality requires eliminating craving or desire (3rd noble truth)
  • Two things are unconditioned:
    • Dharma – the unconditioned truth
    • Nirvana – the unconditioned state
buddhism and the human problem
Buddhism and the Human Problem
  • Suffering, caused by desire, is at the root of the problems of human beings.
  • This is because of the transitory nature of things. All is subjected to continuous change - all is coming into being and passing away
  • Nothing in creation is permanent (including the soul); all things pass away and their disappearance causes us pain.
  • Thus all of life is suffused by suffering; we cannot escape it
  • It is out of ignorance that we continue to search for something permanent
  • Human desire for that which is and cannot be permanent causes suffering.
buddhism the four noble truths
Buddhism: The Four Noble Truths

1. Life consists of suffering

    • Everything is suffering - that is to say that all things are passing away; all is transitory
    • out of ignorance we seek those things which we perceive to be permanent
    • but because nothing is permanent we will be subject to grief

2. The origin of suffering is desire or craving

  • desire leads us from one life to the next; binding us in samsara
    • suicide or the desire for bodily annihilation would not be an answer because it too is a form of desire.

3. Destroy desire and destroy suffering;

4. Solution to suffering and the way to extinguish desire: Follow the eight-fold path

the five skhandas
The five skhandas
  • Karma does link us from one existence to the other but it is not a personal self (e.g. atman) that transmigrates.
  • A person is made up of five types of events (skhandas) or aggregates
    • Bodily events
    • Perceptions
    • Feelings
    • Dispositions
    • States of consciousness
  • All these groups of events or aspects of personhood are subject to change (constant emergence and dissolution); there is no soul
  • At death these groups of events are dispersed and then reassembled because of the continuing impulses that are contained therein
  • Desire causes rebirth
  • The chain of causes that links you from life to life.
eight fold path
Eight-Fold Path
  • Twelve-fold Chain of Causation
  • Eight-fold path as counter to the Twelve-fold chain of causation
the eight fold path
The Eight-Fold Path

Prajana: Wisdom

  • Right understanding
    • Four Noble truths
    • Includes doctrines such as impermanence (annica) and an-atman
    • Counter ignorance
    • Other steps follow on this one
  • Right resolve, intensions or aspirations
    • Cultivating virtues, such as love and selflessness
eight fold path cont
Eight-Fold Path (cont.)

Sila: moral conduct

  • Right speech
    • Telling the truth, speaking kindly
  • Right conduct or action
    • E.g. five moral precepts
  • Right livelihood
    • Occupations which avoid doing harm but rather promote well- being
eight fold path cont1
Eight-Fold Path (cont.)

Samadhi correct meditation/contemplation (most impt.)

  • Right effort
    • Developing a will that develops right states of mind
      • Towards wholesome states
      • Preventing unwholesome states
  • Right mindfulness or concentration
    • Awareness of states of being- mind, thoughts, feelings
  • Right contemplation or ecstasy
    • To attain by direct experience the higher states of awareness
    • Penetrate reality directly
    • At this point we achieve Nirvana
the path
The Path
  • Wisdom: Grasping four noble truths and resolving to observe them
  • Moral Conduct (see Ludwig): Five Moral Precepts:
      • To refrain from taking life
      • To refrain from taking what is not given
      • To refrain from wrong sexual relations
      • To refrain from wrongful speech
      • To refrain from drugs and liquor

Purpose of correct moral behavior is to master the senses through:

      • Kindness
      • Sympathy
      • Sharing of joy
      • Serenity

N.B. that Buddhist ethics stress intention/attitude, rather than literally following duties

Note universal moral code for each person; rather depends upon their stage of liberation; but five precepts is guide to right conduct

  • Meditation/Contemplation: Liberation, mind control and the cessation of sense experience
  • Goal of Dharma is to achieve Nirvana
  • Can be achieved in present
  • Buddha does not speak about existence or non-existence in Nirvana
nirvana cont
Nirvana (cont.)
  • What is Nirvana?
  • Nirvana is a state free from conditions- freedom from suffering
    • Primarily negatively defined
      • Ceasing of pain
      • End of sensation
      • End of delusion
      • Extinction of volitional drive
      • Ultimately indescribable
    • Extinction but not nihilistic
      • Not annihilation but is yet formless and uncreated
      • It is the end of the phenomenal self, but not annihilation
      • For those who are enlightened it is absolute peace; cut off from world
    • Nirvana as unconditioned by any causes
      • State transcends conditions of the world
      • life is fully lived in the present moment
nirvana cont1
Nirvana (cont.)
  • How is Nirvana achieved?

Fourth Noble Truth: solution to suffering is to extinguish desire. Means to extinguishing desire is the Eight-Fold Path

Path of salvation is the ‘middle path’, avoiding extremes of pleasure and asceticism

Dharma part of the infinite pattern which is to be known to achieve liberation (vs. dharma) as impersonal cosmic law