THE BACKGROUND OF BUDDHISM

The Buddha Shakyamuni was born in Lumbini, Nepal as prince Siddhartha in 563 B.C. and lived to be 80 years old. As a young man, Siddhartha left the pleasures of royal life in search of an end to the miseries of existence. After quickly perfecting the meditation practices taught by the most advanced teachers of his time, Siddhartha realized that enlightenment could not be attained by extreme methods of asceticism or by achievement of concentration states. By practicing the middle way of gently examining the nature of his own mind, he attained buddhahood, the enlightened state. Buddha means "the enlightened one".

Over the next 50 years and until his death, the Buddha Shakyamuni gave many different kinds of teachings in order to accommodate the various capacities of beings. Although the Buddha gave only oral teachings, his early disciples recorded his teachings and instructions and thus passed them on in their original form. Buddhism is a philosophy of life explained by the Buddha. He was not a god and the philosophy of Buddhism does not entail any theistic world view. The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering.

THE BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA

The basic teachings of the Buddha are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

The first teachings Buddha gave after his enlightenment were the 4 noble truths. The truth of suffering-the truth of the origin of suffering-the truth of cessation of suffering and the noble truth of the path to the cessation of suffering.

The second time he taught the Buddha said: The suffering is what you have to know or understand, you have to know the nature of suffering.The noble truth of the origin of suffering is what you have to abandon.The noble truth of cessation of suffering is what you have to realize, freedom from suffering, enlightenment.The noble truth of the path to cessation of suffering,the path to enlightenment is what you have to follow.

THE EIGHTFOLD PATH

Right Understanding : of the Four Noble Truths. Right View is the true understanding of the four noble truths.

Right thinking : following the right path in life. Right Aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.

Right speech : No lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language. Right Speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.

Right conduct : or Right Action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, careless sex and consuming alcohol or other drugs. These are called the Five Precepts.

Right livelihood : Support yourself without harming others. Right Livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals.

Right Effort : Promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts. Right Effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regards to the content of one's mind. Bad qualities should be abandoned and prevented from arising again. Good qualities should be enacted and nurtured.

Right Mindfulness : Become aware of your body, mind and feelings. Right Mindfulness is the focusing of one's attention on one's body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance.

Right Concentration : Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Right Concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non duality.