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Buddhas teachings
Sermon at Benares
The Four Noble Truths

Buddha's teachings

The Sermon at Benares

One day, whilst sitting under a great, spreading, Bo tree Siddhartha Gautama felt that he was somehow undergoing profound, and extensive, alterations of realisation and awakening. Siddhartha remained for seven days under the great tree. It is from this times that Siddhartha began to be referred to as the Buddha, a name implying his being Awake and Enlightened. These few day's spent under the Bo tree are considered to have been the time of his Enlightenment.

Buddha is said to have "attained Nirvana" - to have achieved a state where suffering is eliminated through the abandonment of desires - desires being the cause of suffering. Such attainmentment is held to bring release from an otherwise endless succession of reincarnations or rebirths. The term Nirvana has suggestive associations with a verb indicating cooling, or possibly, extinguishment!!!

Considering himself to have made significant Spiritual Progress and that he now had some Buddha teachings that he thought important to share with others Siddhartha journeyed on foot over one hundred miles to Benares.

Buddha's Enlightenment was experienced whilst living a life that was neither overly luxurious nor overly austere. His teachings were subsequently framed against an idea of a "Middle Way" that avoided such extremes. In a deer park he delivered the celebrated "The Sermon at Benares" in which are included two of the more central Buddha teachings i.e. the "Four Noble Truths" and the "Noble Eightfold Path".

The Four Noble truths

The First Noble Truth is that old age, illness, and death are all forms of human suffering, and that there are many other other ways in which people suffer. The Buddha accepted the Vedic idea of endlessly successive reincarnations where life followed upon life, with much suffering inevitably attending in each of these lives. The idea of Karma further sugesting that in each existence a person's good or bad deeds would respectively impact positively or negatively on their store of "merit". It was this Karma-merit that would underpin the advantageous, or pitiful, state into which individual reincarnations would occur.

The Second Noble Truth is that suffering is closely linked to desire, a desire for being which leads from birth to death and involve ageing, illness, and mortality. There are also various desires for pleasures and for powers which, frustratingly, may not be realised.

The Third Noble Truth is that suffering can be dispelled by the abandonment of all desires.

The last of the Four Noble Truths holds that such abandonment of desires can be achieved by following the Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path

Right Belief (in the Truth)

Right Intent (to do good rather than evil)

Right Speech (avoidance of untruth, slander and swearing)

Right Behaviour (avoid blameworthy behaviours)

Right Livelihood (some occupations e.g. butcher, publican, were disparaged!!!)

Right Effort (towards the good)

Right Contemplation (of the Truth)

Right Concentration (will result from following the Noble Eightfold Path)

Siddhatha Gautama's Buddha teachings were to provide the basis for the establishment of Buddhism as a most significant religious and philosophical movement - in India for more than a thousand years - with Buddhism also spreading widely into other parts of Asia.

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  The Dhammapada - of the principal texts of Buddhism - suggests that human behaviors have identifiable tendencies - other than spirituality.

  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who, even here, knows the end of his suffering, has put down his burden, and is unshackled.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana whose knowledge is deep, who possesses wisdom, who knows the right way and the wrong, and has attained the highest end.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who keeps aloof both from laymen and from mendicants, who frequents no houses, and has but few desires.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who finds no fault with other beings, whether feeble or strong, and does not kill nor cause slaughter.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana who is tolerant with the intolerant, mild with fault-finders, and free from passion among the passionate.
  Him I call indeed a Brâhmana from whom anger and hatred, pride and envy have dropt like a mustard seed from the point of a needle.

Dhammapada V. 401-407

Buddhist Spirituality Quotations

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Many of our visitors seem to find the content of one of our pages -

Which is about Human Nature, (and 'Very Possibly' related matters)

- to be particularly fascinating!!!

There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.
William Shakespeare

"…can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
From Plato's most famous work ~ The Republic ~ detailing conversations entered into by his friend, and teacher, Socrates

Please click for more detail . . .

Pythagoras was a prominent figure in the intellectual life of the Greek world of the sixth century B.C.
Alongside his genuine contributions to mathematics and geometry Pythogoras is also considered to have recognised that there was evidently a "Tripartite" complexity to Human Nature:-
 Pythagoras who, according to Heraclides of Pontus, the pupil of Plato and a learned man of the first rank, came, the story goes, to Philus and with a wealth of learning and words discussed certain subjects with Leon the ruler of the Philasians. And Leon after wondering at his talent and eloquence asked him to name the art in which he put most reliance. But Pythagoras said that for his part he had no acquaintance with any art, but was a philosopher. Leon was astonished at the novelty of the term and asked who philosophers were and in what they differed from the rest of the world.

 Pythagoras, the story continues, replied that the life of man seemed to him to resemble the festival which was celebrated with most magnificent games before a concourse collected from the whole of Greece. For at this festival some men whose bodies had been trained sought to win the glorious distinction of a crown, others were attracted by the prospect of making gains by buying or selling, whilst there was on the other hand a certain class, and that quite the best class of free-born men, who looked neither for applause no gain, but came for the sake of the spectacle and closely watched what was done and how it was done: So also we, as though we had come from some city to a kind of crowded festival, leaving in like fashion another life and nature of being, entered upon this life, and some were slaves of ambition, some of money; there were a special few who, counting all else as nothing, ardently contemplated the nature of things. These men he would call "lovers of wisdom" (for that is the meaning of the word philo-sopher).

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In all districts of all lands, in all the classes of communities thousands of minds are intently occupied, the merchant in his compting house, the mechanist over his plans, the statesman at his map, his treaty, & his tariff, the scholar in the skilful history & eloquence of antiquity, each stung to the quick with the desire of exalting himself to a hasty & yet unfound height above the level of his peers. Each is absorbed in the prospect of good accruing to himself but each is no less contributing to the utmost of his ability to fix & adorn human civilization.
In William H. Gilman (ed.) The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol II, 1822-1826, 305

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In what is perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson's most famous essay - 'History' - we read such things as:-
… There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has be-fallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.

Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. …

… We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience, and verifying them here. All history becomes subjective; in other words, there is properly no history; only biography. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself, -- must go over the whole ground. What it does not see, what it does not live, it will not know. …

… In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world. …

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"History is for human self-knowledge ... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is."
R. G. Collingwood

To access our page about Human Nature, (and 'Very Possibly' related matters), - please click here:-

Human Nature (and the Courses of History?)