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The Core Priciples and Values of Buddhism

The term "Buddha" means "enlightened one". Buddhism is a philosophy of life and does not entail any teachings about a personal god or gods. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. Buddhism was expounded by Siddhattha Gautama also called, Gautama Buddha, who lived and taught in northern India in the 6th century BC, but has since spread throughout asia.

The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are:

  • The Three Universal Truths,

  • The Four Noble Truths,

  • The Noble Eightfold Path.

The Three Universal Truths

    1. Nothing is lost in the universe

    2. Everything Changes

    3. The Law of Cause and Effect


    A core belief of Buddhism is the law of karma, a word that has a specific meaning; pertaining to volitional or willful action. Things we choose to do or say or think set karma into motion.

    The law of karma is therefore a law of cause and effect as defined in Buddhism. Every volitional act brings about a certain result. If we act in motivation of greed, hatred, or delusion, we are planting the seed of suffering. When our acts are motivated by generosity, love, or wisdom, we are creating the karmic conditions for abundance and happiness. An analogy from the physical world illustrates this: if we plant an apple seed, no amount of manipulation or complaining will induce the tree to yield an orange. The only meaningful action that will produce an orange is to plant an orange seed. Karma is just such a law of nature, the law of cause and effect on the psychophysical plane.


    The goal state of Buddhism is Nirvana. A state of liberation and freedom from suffering. The Buddha taught that if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana.

    The Three Practices (or Trainings)

      1. Virtue, good conduct, morality (Sila): -- based on two fundamental principles:
        - Equality: all living entities are equal.
        - Reciprocity: same as the "Golden Rule" in Christianity, and one that exists in all major religions "do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you".

      2. Concentration, meditation, mental development (Samadhi):
      Developing one's mind is the path to wisdom which leads to personal freedom and the strengthening and control of our minds.

      3. Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment (Prajna):
      This is at the heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the physical or mental suffering humanity faces.

The truths are:

    1. Suffering Exists (Dukkha): The First Truth identifies that suffering exists.

    2. Suffering is Caused by Attachment (Samudaya): The Second Truth, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. It stems from the desire to have and control things and from ignorance. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality; all wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one's mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance.

    3. There is an End to Suffering (Nirodha): This truth has a dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. Suffering ceases with the liberation of Nirvana, a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, a place where spiritual enlightenment has been reached.

    4. The Method for Attaining the end of Suffering (Magga): The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path

The Buddha's Eightfold Path consists of eight practices:

    Panna: discernment, wisdom

    1. Right View (Samma ditthi): A true understanding of how reality and suffering are intertwined.

    2. Right Resolve (Samma sankappa): Having the aspiration to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.

    Sila: virtue, morality

    3. Right Speech (Samma vaca): Involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.

    4. Right Conduct (Samma kammanta): Involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex.

    5. Right Livelihood (Samma ajiva): Means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others.

    Samadhi: Concentration, meditation

    6. Right Effort (Samma vayama): Promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts. Exerting oneself to abando Bad qualities and nurturing Good ones.

    7. Right Mindfulness (Samma sati): Focusing your attention on your body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance.

    8. Right Concentration (Samma samadhi): Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.