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Teachings of the Buddha Gautama

The following contents are generally agreed among different Buddhist schools as the essential teachings from the first turning of the Wheel of Dharma.

The Four Noble Truths

To help people appreciate the true fact of life, the Buddha talked about 'dukkha' (suffering). He summarized his teaching as the Truth about suffering, its origin, its ending, and the path to its ending. These Four Noble Truths serve as guidance for us to practice against our own experience of live.

  1. The truth of suffering: There are all kinds of suffering: labor(birth), aging, illness, death, being separated from love ones , being associated with unpleasant ones, not getting the craved objects, and desire itself.

  2. The truth of the origin of suffering: Suffering results from misunderstanding of the universal truths and improper thoughts triggered by one's experience. By always seeking fulfillment in what is transient, we miss the true joy of life.

  3. The truth of cessation of suffering: When we're no longer defensive or aggressive, whenever we respond to life without prejudice or fixed views, the mind rests in an inner harmony.

  4. The truth of the path leading to this cessation: The 'Way' is defined as the Noble Eightfold Path. Buddhist practice consists of cultivating these factors of: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

The Thirty-seven Aspects Of The Path To Enlightenment 

Even though the Eightfold Path is the ultimate method of achieving enlightenment, it is very difficult for a normal being to practice without proper guideline. It is believed that the general structure of the Buddhist path addressed in the first turning of the wheel of Dharma is the thirty-seven aspects of the path to enlightenment. They are further divided into seven categories:

  1. Four Mindfulnesses(contemplative practices):
      • Mindfulness of body: the body is not pure;
      • Mindfulness of feelings: unsatisfactory nature of daily activities(samsara);
      • Mindfulness of mind: transitoriness of this conditional existence;
      • Mindfulness of phenomena: phenomena are selfless.

  2. Four Complete Abandonments (abandon the causes of future suffering and cultivate the causes of future happiness):
      • Abandonment of unwholesome thoughts and actions already generated;
      • Non-generation of unwholesome thoughts and actions not yet generated;
      • Enhancement of wholesome thoughts and actions already generated;
      • Generation of wholesome thoughts and actions not yet generated.

  3. Four Factors of miraculous powers: (or called four legs, because they are the prerequisite factors to achieve focus states of mind):
      • The miraculous powers of aspiration;
      • The miraculous powers of effort;
      • The miraculous powers of intention;
      • The miraculous powers of analysis.

  4. Five Faculties (the practitioner's facilities to achieve focus):
      • Confidence;
      • Joyous effort;
      • Mindfulness;
      • Focus(Single-pointedness);
      • Intelligence.

  5. Five powers (share the same names as Five Faculties, at a sufficiently advanced stage of fluency, the Faculties become powers):
      • Confidence;
      • Joyous effort;
      • Mindfulness;
      • Focus(Single-pointedness);
      • Intelligence.

  6. Seven branches of the path to enlightenment:
      • Perfect mindfulness;
      • Perfect analysis;
      • Perfect effort;
      • Perfect joy;
      • Perfect pliancy;
      • Perfect meditative stabilization;
      • Perfect equanimity.

  7. The Noble eightfold path (The 'wheel' symbol that is often used in Buddhist iconography is a depiction of this Eightfold Path in which each factor supports and is supported by all the others. And this is the only way to Nirvana):
    • Right View: the understanding of oneself as one really is based on knowledge and not on unreasonable belief;
    • Right Intention: renunciation of thoughts which are opposed to sense-pleasures and thoughts which are ill-will;
    • Right Speech: refraining from falsehood, slandering, harsh words and frivolous talk;
    • Right Conduct: refraining from killing, stealing, promiscuity, falsehood, and alcoholism;
    • Right Livelihood: earning one's living in a way that is not harmful to others. There are five business that should be avoided:
    1. trade in deadly weapons,
    2. trade in animals for slaughter,
    3. trade in slavery,
    4. trade in intoxicants, and
    5. trade in poisons;
    • Right Effort: practice the Four Complete Abandonments;
    • Right Mindfulness: the awareness of one's deeds, words and thoughts , practice the Four Mindfulnesses; and
    • Right Concentration: the focussed (single-pointedness) practice can help one to develop a calm and concentrated mind and help to prepare one for the ultimate attainment of Wisdom and Enlightenment.

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