Buddha and his teachings

It is believed that Buddha was born on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakh, he attained enlightenment under the shade of Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya on a full moon day and he attained salvation on a full moon day both again in the month of Vaisakh. He lived during 5th – 4th century BCE. After 45 years of teaching the Truth, when he was eighty, at Kusinara (Kushinagar, UP), he attained salvation (on the full moon day in the month of Vaisakh).

A common presentation of the core structure of Buddha’s teaching found in the early texts is that of the Four Noble Truths. This teaching is most famously presented in the  Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (“The discourse on the turning of the Dharma wheel”) and its many parallels. The basic outline of the four truths is as follows:

  • There is sorrow (dukkha).
  • There are causes and conditions for the arising of dukkha. The three most basic causes are greed, aversion and delusion. ((samudaya)
  • If the conditions for dukkha cease, dukkha also ceases.(nirodha)
  • There is path to follow that ends suffering or leads to Nirvana (magga)

Like all the philosophers and preachers who spoke about meditation, Buddha also says in similar lines on how to live in the present –

“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live.”

Buddha rightly says-

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

According to Upanishads, there are 4 anatahkaranas (mind, memory, intellect and ego). Mind (Manas) is the connecting link between the external material world and the human memory. It transmits the data, images and events of the external world to the memory (Chitta).

Mind is also full of emotions and is influenced by the six enemies of the mind known as arishad vargas– lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy. Intellect (Buddhi) can control the thoughts as well as the emotions provided it is not over powered by the mind. When intellect is able to exercise its control over the mind that is the first successful step towards meditation. Meditation gives peace and Buddha says, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

The Buddha taught his followers that the end of suffering, as described in the fourth Noble Truths, could be achieved by following an Eightfold Path.

  • Right understanding (Samma ditthi)
  • Right thought (Samma sankappa)
  • Right speech (Samma vaca)
  • Right action (Samma kammanta)
  • Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
  • Right effort (Samma vayama)
  • Right mindfulness (Samma sati)
  • Right concentration (Samma samadhi)

This eight-fold path is a combination of wise thinking (right understanding, right thought), ethical living (right speech, right action and tight livelihood) and meditation ( right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration) and its practice will elevate a person spiritually and remove the suffering or sorrow which is one’s own creation.

Buddhists believe in Tilakhana – three sings of existence viz., (i) life is endless, (ii) life is impermanent and (iii) life is suffering and uncertainty. Buddhism believes in reincarnation, hence, the logic life is endless. Buddhism believes life is impermanent because no state or situation will last for ever. It keeps changing and not static.

Therefore, Buddhism concludes suffering or sorrow is caused by the assumption that things or the material world can last for ever whereas they are only impermanent, uncertain and transient. There is no belief in a personal god in Buddhism.

According to Buddhism, the path to Enlightenment or Nirvana is through the practice and development of morality or ethical conduct, mental discipline (meditation) and wisdom.

Buddha also says-

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

All Buddhists live by five moral precepts, which prohibit:

  • Killing living things
  • Taking what is not given
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Lying
  • Using drugs or alcohol

The above five tenets are the foundation for Ahimsa or nonviolence in Buddhism.

Let us hope that this three months of lock down due to COVID-19 makes every human being to introspect, seek within himself and find the answer for peaceful living in harmony with the other living beings on this planet Earth and follow the preaching of Buddha who aptly said, “Peace comes from within.”

(Featured image: Times of India)


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About the Author

Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]