THUMBNAIL SUMMARY OF BUDDHA'S TEACHINGS

THE MIDDLE WAY, (or Middle Path). In all matters, find the middle way between your extremes that is right for you.The middle way is usually found by experiencing extremes, not by staying to the middle and avoiding them.

AN EMPIRICAL ATTITUDE. Buddha said, "Believe nothing until you have tried it out for yourself and found it to be true. Don't accept something just because I tell to to.

LETTING GO. LIberation comes in part through giving up our grasping and attachments and letting go. This includes unhelpful old ideas and beliefs as well as attachments in the material world.

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

  1. Suffering exists. It is part of the very structure of existence
  2. Suffering has a cause.
  3. There is a way to end (or at least greatly reduce) suffering.
  4. A way to end (reduce) suffering is by following the eightfold path.

THE EIGHTFOLD PATH

The term "right," as used in most translations, should not be interpreted in a dualistic sense as "right vs. wrong." Some translators have suggested that "Helpful" or "Appropriate" or some similar term which implies a variety of possibilities rather than a single correct way is a more appropriate rendering. The longer "Lecture on Buddha's Original Teachings" at this website renders the term as "Helpful and beneficial understanding. . . " etc. and provides more detail regarding each of the eight elements of the path.

1. Right Understanding Especially knowledge of the Four Noble Truths

2. Right Motivation (resolve). The determination to remove animosity, malice, and hatred from our consciouness, and also the determination to renouce worldly pleasures.

3. Right Speech. Telling the truth and avoiding lies, harsh language, frivolous gossip, and any remarks which may cause others unnecessary hardhsip or pain.

4. Right Action. Acting in ways that honor rather than destroy life, and no stealing or immorality or action which would harm others or yourself . Let your acts create good karma.

5. Right Livelihood. Finding an occupation which suits your own nature, which contributes to the world in some positive way, and which does not cause damage, difficulty, or hardship to others.

6. Right Effort.. Directing your efforts toward faithfully following the Eightfold Path

7. Right Mindfulness. (Sometimes translated "awareness.") Letting go of thoughts of "I must have this," or "I must have that." Developing moment-by-moment awareness of what we are in fact doing in our lives and the world, and sensitivity to the effects of this. Learning to perceive the world and others clearly, without judgment or envy.

8. Right Concentration. Practicing meditative states which lead us in the direction of self-mastery and evenmindedness.

UNWHOLESOME STATES-- IMPORTANT SOURCES OF UNHAPPINESS

Ignorance and Delusion. If we hold mistaken beliefs and cannot see and hear things clearly as they are (including ourselves, then we are sure to behave in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others.

Afflictive emotional states. Some, such as fears, need to be talked-through and worked-through to reduce them. Others, like hate, enmity, and belligerance, should be simply observed but not expressed, and our attention then moved to more helpful and constructive states. We may note here that no war has ever been fought in the name of Buddhism. It holds a resolutely nonviolent attitude.

Unwillingness to come to terms with impermanence. This is holding on to a craving that for the continuation as they are of things that inevitably must change.

Identification with possessions, whether material or ideational

Egoism and Egotism. Egoism is being locked into my own views and acting for my narrow advantage even when it harms others. Egotism is thinking and saying that I'm better than others.

WHOLESOME STATES, OR "THINGS TO BE ENCOURAGED

The "Ten Paramitas" are generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, equanimity.

The development of awareness, a clear mind, and lovingkindness could be viewed as the central elements in the Buddhist path. Renunciation, or letting-go of things we want but don't really need, is part of letting go of craving things that we are unlikely to get, or that distract us from acting in kind, generous ways toward other. Life is fundamentally relational, and acting in ways that benefit other people and other sentient beings brings us peace of mind as well, in which we do not have to erect mental barriers that separate us from ohters. Patience and generosity go together with these.

Lovingkindness is a central relational attitude to be cultivated. "Hatred will never cease by hatred. It will cease by love alone." Like Jesus, we are exhorted to love our enemies, but with a further dimension articulated: doing so teaches us tolerance and compasion.

Determination and perseverance are crucial to self-transformation. No amount of belief or faith alone can lead us to liberation. It requires the diligent effort necessary to develop a clear, centered mind and a tolerant, loving heart.

MEDITATION

Analytical meditation (contemplation ) endeavors to understand a topic through reasoning. Stabilizing meditation (concentration) endeavors to develop control of your attention and clarity of mind. Imaginative mediation involves imagining that you already have certain spiritual qualities that you want to develop.

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