Known as a religion that combines a variety of different recitations and beliefs, Buddhism also encompasses elements of the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha. During the time period spanning the fourth through sixth century the Buddha spread his knowledge throughout many parts of eastern India.Practitioners of Buddhism recognize Buddha as ‘an enlightened teacher who essentially helped various beings end their suffering – dukkha – through removing sources of ignorance (avidya) by seeking understanding and dependent origination (pratityasamutpada) while quelling negative desires.
These teachings essentially aim to help followers reach a level of understanding that will help them ‘cease their suffering,’ a state that’s also known as attaining Nirvana.
Theravada (The School of Elders) and Mahayana (The Great Vehicle) are Buddhism’s largest and most recognized schools. Both schools of this religion are practiced throughout Southeast and Far East Asia.
They also have attracted the attention of millions of people around the world; nearly 550 million people have dedicated themselves to the practice of Buddhism. The amount of people who have devoted themselves to this religion has also made Buddhism one of the fastest growing religions across the world.
Buddhist teachings – an introduction
Depending on the school, Buddhist teachings can vary when instructing followers about the ‘true nature’ to the path of liberation, the importance and canonical nature of various associated teachings and scriptures, in addition to their respective practices.
The primary foundation of the main Buddhist traditions and scriptures is comprised of the Three Jewels, known as the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels has long since been a traditional declaration and commitment when undertaking teachings under the Buddhist path.
The main teachings shared by all known schools of Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths, the Precepts and the Eightfold Path. The Buddhist doctrines of the five aggregates of being (skandhas), no-self (shunyata, anatta), ethics, karma, rebirth, enlightenment, suffering and Nirvana intermingle with the principles of the aforementioned teachings.
The Three Marks of Existence – pain, egolessness and impermanence – are a constant theme that permeate the teachings of Buddha.
The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths were the subject of Buddha’s first sermon, and essentially are a look into the truth behind human nature and the human consciousness.
The first noble truth is the fact that life is ‘frustrating and painful to experience.’ It mainly addresses the inevitability of death and how the human consciousness constantly promotes feelings of doubt and discomfort.
The second noble truth is the fact that ‘suffering often has a cause.’ It mainly exposes how humans suffer, since they’re ‘struggling to find ways to survive the fast changing world, while simultaneously trying to prove their existence.’
The third noble truth is the fact that ‘anything that causes suffering can be completely ended.’ It addresses how people can end their struggle to ‘survive’ by abandoning pretensions and expectations concerning how they assume they should live their lives.
The fourth noble truth is the fact that there is a ‘way or path to end any source of immediate suffering.’ Meditation is the main theme of this truth, as it’s the practice of attaining awareness of one’s self. Using meditation can help people grasp the negative things that impede their sense of self, later abandoning that negativity to achieve peace.
The Five Skandhas
The Buddhist ego is known as a collection of mental events that’s
classified into five categories, also known as the skandhas (bundles or heaps). This collection essentially covers how the ego develops ‘in the beginning’ to a state of confusion that impedes one’s life, finally resolving into the skandha of consciousness, which makes the ego feel ‘solid and real.’
The goal of teachings
The main goal of Buddhist teachings mainly involves attaining the right to cease negative feelings of passion, ignorance and aggression.
It also involves the cessation of one’s struggle to prove their ongoing existence to the world or in other words, the struggle to survive. When reaching this state or true Nirvana, it means to stop struggling to survive, as one has already survived and no longer needs to manipulate things into the way they would like them to be.