Buddhism originated sometime between the 4th and 6th centuries BCE, when Siddhartha Gautama gained enlightenment and began teaching the Dharma. Since then his teachings have spread out from India, integrated with local cultures and belief systems resulting in many schools and traditions. However, despite their diversity, all these schools have one thing in common, the Middle Way taught by the Buddha.
the Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are one of the core doctrines of Buddhism, believed to be one of the first teachings of the Buddha after his enlightenment. They containing the essence of his teachings and are particularly central to the Theravada school of Buddhism. So what are these truths?
We know the cause of suffering
There is a cure for suffering
The cure for suffering
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path is also what the Buddha is referring to when he speaks of the Middle Way. It is the path of wisdom that lies between the extremes of pleasure seeking and self mortification. This eightfold path consists of the following :
A deep understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
An unselfish intention to gain enlightenment.
Communicating in a way that promotes harmony – no lying, gossiping or telling tales.
Action that stems from compassion, and does no harm such as destroying life, stealing or committing adultery.
Earn a leaving without bringing harm to oneself or others.
Doing one’s best in the right direction.
Always being aware and attentive.
Efforts to make the mind steady and calm to realise the nature of things, such as meditation.
There is further division of the eight paths into 3 categories. Right View and Right Attitude are considered the Wisdom Path. Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood make up the Good or Ethical Conduct Path while Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are part of the Mental Development Path.
All eight paths support each other, and practice of each path reinforces and strengthens the other paths. As such, all eight paths should be practised at the same time. They are like the eight spokes of a wheel that is required for the wheel to turn, not eight steps to be taken one after the other.
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