On gaining enlightenment, the Buddha realized the Four Noble Truths.
The main Teaching of the Buddha focuses not on philosophical speculations about a Creator God or the origin of the universe, nor on a heaven world ever after. The Teaching, instead, is centred on the down-to- earth reality of human suffering and the urgent need to find lasting relief from all forms of discontent. The Buddha gave the simile of a man shot by a poison-tipped arrow who, before he would call a doctor to treat him, demanded to know first who shot the arrow and where the arrow was made and of what and by whom and when and where ... this foolish man would surely die before his questions could be well answered. In the same way, the Buddha said, the urgent need of our existence is to find lasting relief from recurrent suffering which robs us of happiness and leaves us in strife.
Philosophical speculations are of secondary importance and, anyway, they are best left until after one has well trained the mind in meditation to the stage where one has the ability to examine the matter clearly and find the Truth for oneself.
All beings are subject to Dukkha.
Dukkha is usually translated as suffering but it actually encompasses a range of negative feelings including stress, dissatisfaction and physical suffering. Dukkha exists as all beings are subject to illness, separation from loved ones, not getting one's desires, aging and death.
Dukkha arises due to desire and craving.
All beings crave pleasant sensations, and also desire to avoid unpleasant sensations. These sensations can be physical or psychological sensations, and dukkha arises when these desires and cravings are not met.
Dukkha can be overcome by the elimination of desire and craving.
Nibbana is the state of peace where all greed, hatred and delusion, and thereby dukkha, have been eradicated.
There is a way out of dukkha, which is the Noble Eightfold Path.
Dukkha can be eradicated, or reduced, by following this path as taught by the Buddha.
The Middle Way or Eightfold Path
The Way to end all suffering is called the Middle Way because it avoids the two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. Only when the body is in reasonable comfort but not over-indulged has the mind the clarity and strength to meditate deeply and discover the Truth. This Middle Way consists of the diligent cultivation of Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom, which is explained in more detail as the Noble Eightfold Path.
1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
Right Speech, Action and Livelihood constitute the training in Virtue or Morality. For a practising Buddhist it consists of maintaining the five Buddhist Precepts, which are to refrain from:
1. Deliberately causing the death of any living being;
2. Intentionally taking for one's own the property of another;
3. Sexual misconduct, in particular adultery;
4. Lying and breaking promises;
5. Drinking alcohol or taking stupefying drugs which lead to lack of mindfulness.
Right Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration refer to the practice of Meditation, which purifies the mind through the experience of blissful states of inner stillness and empowers the mind to penetrate the meaning of life through profound moments of insight.
Right Understanding and Thought are the manifestation of Buddha-Wisdom which ends all suffering, transforms the personality and produces unshakeable serenity and tireless compassion.
According to the Buddha, without perfecting the practice of Virtue it is impossible to perfect Meditation, and without perfecting Meditation it is impossible to arrive at Enlightenment Wisdom. Thus the Buddhist Path is a Gradual Path, a Middle Way consisting of Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom as explained in the Noble Eightfold Path leading to happiness and liberation.
- LORD BUDDHA