The Teachings of Buddhism are called the Buddha-Dharma. It is said that the teachings in the first dharma talk that Sakyamuni Buddha delivered after becoming an Awakened One (Buddha) were about the Middle Path, The Four Noble Truth and Eighfold Path.
1. True Aspect of Life (First Truth)
The first truth revealved by Sakyamuni Buddha is that life is full of sufferings. It was not clarified from the view point of pessimistic but it was clarified on the view point of the Middle Path which is to view and accept things as they are.
The Buddha identified the four basic sufferings.
The Buddha added four more sufferings which arise from universal experiences.
- Separation from loved ones
- Having to live with someone or some situation one does not like
- Non-fulfillment of one's most cherished desires
- being attached to the five elemental aggregates which composed by our mind and body
This "truth aspect of life" is not just a view of life; rather, it is the truth of life itself. It cannot be ignored no matter how hard we try. This is the nature of life.
2. Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Second Truth)
Sakyamuni Buddha revealed that our life is full of sufferings from his enlightened mind. The four basic sufferings he revealed are unavoidable sufferings for human beings.
He revealed that the cause of our sufferings is our blind passions. We tend to look for the cause of our suffering externally. However, Buddha identified that cause of our sufferings is within us so that he encouraged us to look inside of ourselves to find the cause. For instance, aging, illness, and dying itself are not suffering. Our thoughts and desires of being young, healthy, and eternal life cause our sufferings. Our thoughts are always self-centered; and this nature creates our sufferings. The Buddha realized that unawareness of this nature is causing our sufferings.
3. Transcending Suffering (Third Truth)
Sakyamuni Buddha realized that life is full of sufferings and identified that the cause is our ignorance. then he revealed to transcend suffering and reach the state of free from sufferings.
The basic principles of Buddha-Dharma can be said to be contained in the following three formulations which reflect the concepts of dependent origination and the true aspect of life:
“All conditioned things are impermanent.” All things change in relation to causes and conditions.
“Phenomenal things exist only because of conditions; hence, they have no substance.” Nothing exists independently or statically.
“Nirvana is peace.” If we can transcend suffering, we are able to live with untroubled peace of mind.
The above three formulations, which are referred to as the “seal of three laws”, make Buddha-Dharma what it is. If a teaching does not express these three laws, it is not Buddha-Dharma.
4. Eightfold Path (Fourth Truth)
The Buddha realized the Middle Path and preached Eightfold Path as eight steps to attain spiritual awareness and free from sufferings. The purpose of this practice is to recognize that we have attachments.
Right View or Right Understanding: We should learn and try to understand the Truth. It is to keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition, and delusion, and seek to understand the true nature of life.
Right Thought: We should try to have good and pure thoughts because our words and our actions arise from our thoughts. It is to cherish good and pure thoughts; for all that we say and do arise from our thoughts.
Right Speech: We should be truthful and kind in all we say. It is to refrain from pointless and harmful talk and speak kindly and constructively.
Right Conduct: We should try to behave ourselves at all times. It is to see that our deeds are peaceable, benevolent, compassionate, and pure, and to live the Teachings daily.
Right Livelihood: We should earn our living in a way which will not harm anyone. It is to earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences.
Right Endeavor: We should constantly try to improve ourselves. It is to direct our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance and craving desires.
Right Mindfulness: We should try always to do what is right. It is to turn away from the evils of the world and direct our minds towards righteousness.
Right Meditation: We should think often of Amida Buddha and recite the Name, Namo-Amidabutsu. It is to consider often our indebtedness to the Buddha and recite the Name in thankfulness.
1. Dana Paramita
May I be generous and helpful!
2. Sila paramita
May I be pure and virtuous!
3. Ksanti Paramita
May I be patient! May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others!
4. Virya Paramita
May I be strenuous, energetic, and persevering!
5. Dhyana Paramita
May I practice meditation and attain concentration and oneness to serve all beings!
6. Prajna Paramita
May I gain wisdom and be able to give the benefit of my wisdom to others!
These are considered the standard practices along the Buddhist Way.