BUDDHIST BASICS:
The ABC's of Buddhism


BUDDHA IMAGE

The Life of the Buddha

Siddhartha Gautama was born
in the sixth century B.C.
in what is now modern Nepal.
His father, Suddhodana,
was the ruler of the Sakya people
and Siddhartha grew up living
the extravagant life of a young prince.
According to custom,
he married at the young age of sixteen
to a girl named Yasodhara.
His father had ordered
that he live a life of total seclusion,
but one day Siddhartha ventured out
into the world
and was confronted with the reality
of the inevitable suffering of life.
The next day,
at the age of twenty-nine,
he left his kingdom and new-born son
to lead an ascetic life a
nd determine a way to relieve universal suffering.
For six years,
Siddhartha submitted himself
to rigorous ascetic practices,
studying and following
different methods of meditation
with various religious teachers.
But he was never fully satisfied.
One day, however,
he was offered a bowl of rice from a young girl
and he accepted it.
In that moment,
he realized that physical austerities
were not the means to achieve liberation.
From then on,
he encouraged people to follow
a path of balance rather than extremism.
He called this The Middle Way.
That night Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree,
and meditated until dawn.
He purified his mind of all defilements
and attained enlightenment
at the age of thirty-five,
thus earning the title Buddha,
or "Enlightened One."
For the remainder of his eighty years,
the Buddha preached the dharma
in an effort to help other sentient beings
reach enlightenment.
BUDDHA

The Four Noble Truths

In his first teaching,
the Buddha expounded
the basic doctrine
of the Four Noble Truths.

He first declared what he had learned
the day he left the palace;
namely, that suffering
is universal and inevitable.

In the Second Noble Truth,
he explains that
the immediate cause
of suffering
is desire.
The ultimate cause of suffering,
however,
is ignorance
concerning the true nature of reality.

The Third Noble Truth
encourages humanity,
asserting that there is a way
to dispel ignorance
and relieve suffering.

This path is detailed
in the Fourth Noble Truth
in the form of
the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path

According to the Buddha,
the Eightfold path is the means
to achieve liberation from suffering.
Specifically, this path includes
(1) Right View,
(2) Right Thought,
(3) Right Speech,
(4) Right Action,
(5) Right Livelihood,
(6) Right Effort,
(7) Right Mindfulness,
and (8) Right Concentration.


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