Dharma Lessons - Basics

Buddhism Basics

Deity: none. Belief in a deity is considered irrelevant. Some sects of Buddhism do have gods and/or spiritual beings as part of their beliefs. Some individual Buddhists have their own beliefs about dieties. Belief in a diety is not contrary to Buddhism. Neither is atheism.

Founder: Siddhartha Gautama also called Shakyamuni Buddha. Considered a man and not an incarnation of a deity.

Creation of the Universe: No official teachings on the creation of the universe. Considered irrelevent. Scientific explanations are acceptable to Buddhism and not considered to be contrary.

Afterlife: No real afterlife. One's karma continues after death. No transmigration of individual souls. Although some believe in rebirth (not the same as reincarnation). It can be likened to a candle lighting another candle - what of the original candle is transferred?

Goal of Buddhism: To reach Enlightenment and to become free of suffering.

Basic Teachings: Four noble Truths:

  1. Suffering exists
  2. Suffering has causes such as desires, attachments, aversions
  3. To eliminate suffering, eliminate the causes
  4. To do this follow the eight fold path.
The eight fold path includes:
  1. Right views/ ideas/ understanding
  2. Right aspirations/ mindedness/resolution
  3. Right speech Right conduct/ behavior/ action
  4. Right livelihood/ vocation/ living
  5. Right effort
  6. Right mindfulness/ attentiveness
  7. Right concentration/ enlightenment


Founder facts: Lived around 650 BC in India. His father was a king of the area. He married to Yashodhara at about age 19, later had one child named Rahula. Left palace life leaving his wife and infant child in the care of his father and went to seek enlightenment. Followed a number of different pathways seeking enlightenment for about 10 years finally becoming as ascetic. Severely weakened, he left the ascetic life but fainted on the roadway. He was discovered by a young girl whose compassion saved his life. She fed him milk and rice cakes. He began meditating under a pippala tree. Sujata, the young girl, continued to bring him food and a buffalo boy brought him grass to sit on. He at last reached enlightenment. Taught for 45 years. Died about age 80.


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