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Thread: How would you explain Buddhism basics?

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    How would you explain Buddhism basics?

    How would you explain the basics of Buddhism in a few sentences, to someone who knew nothing about it at all?


  2. #2
    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
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    The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

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    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
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    I agree, that’s how it was first explained to me. Took awhile to wrap my head around it though.

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    We think we don't change, but we do all the time. Whatever we say, whatever we do and whatever we think changes us. Following the Buddhist path allows us to control these changes, so that we now have a say in what we will be like for the rest of our lives.

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    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    I don't think that the Four Noble Truths by themselves constitutes a sufficient explanation of the basics of Buddhism to someone who knows nothing about it.

    I'm already familiar with the Four Noble Truths, I think I understand what they are saying. But according to the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya LVI, 11), once the Buddha had realised these truths fully and completely, he was awakened to perfect enlightenment. Clearly, I haven't quite got it yet.

    So I think I would explain Buddhism by paraphrasing the 4NT, like this:

    Recognise that all human life involves suffering; suffering is caused by wanting things to be different from the way they are; it is possible for an individual to understand and overcome that suffering; the way to achieve it is by following the Eightfold Noble Path, choosing to do no harm through your views, intentions, speech, action, job and effort, acting wisely through mindfulness and concentration.

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Maybe I will explain impermanence and attachment as the roots of suffering, later on the four noble truths.

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    It's a beautiful question. I would start by talking about the three canons of Buddha's teachings. And then go on to talk about the righteous way of living and the practise of meditation. Depending on the individual's interests, perhaps I would share my thoughts on growth by sila, samadhi and pannya. But maybe I'm just shooting my mouth off :D

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    Hi,
    I'm often asked this question by people who discover that I'm a buddhist. Invariably I am unable to answer. Like Christianity, there are so many sects, each placing emphasis on different aspects, and having different interpretations of the teachings, that I just don't know what to say. Also, buddhism is so foreign to non buddhists that I honestly hesitate to even try. And I'm very hesitant to try and explain to others, what I don't completely understand myself. Why spread the confusion.
    For those on the forum, I tend to dwell heavily on the three marks of existence, as pretty much embodying the very essence of the teachings. I have a cursory understanding of anicca, and dukkha, but anatta is a continual struggle. Intellecually I get it, but deep down ........ well .... not really.

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    Forums Member manoPG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodscooter View Post
    I don't think that the Four Noble Truths by themselves constitutes a sufficient explanation of the basics of Buddhism to someone who knows nothing about it.

    I'm already familiar with the Four Noble Truths, I think I understand what they are saying. But according to the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya LVI, 11), once the Buddha had realized these truths fully and completely, he was awakened to perfect enlightenment. Clearly, I haven't quite got it yet.

    So I think I would explain Buddhism by paraphrasing the 4NT, like this:

    Recognize that all human life involves suffering; suffering is caused by wanting things to be different from the way they are; it is possible for an individual to understand and overcome that suffering; the way to achieve it is by following the Eightfold Noble Path, choosing to do no harm through your views, intentions, speech, action, job and effort, acting wisely through mindfulness and concentration.
    I like this quite a bit.

    There are infinite varieties of focusing on the 4NTs and very few of us, myself the least, can achieve the dhamma-eye immediately.

    I speak of the dhamma eye arising because in the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta you mention above, the erudite Koṇḍañña just heard the utterances of the Buddha himself, recorded at this time, and it was enough for him to breakthrough to the true nature of Dhamma. Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji all eventually attained arahantship but only after further clarification into explicit teachings on Anatta and the truth of the sensory world, as we know it.

    So a stock phrase of the Samyutta and other nikayas is that it is our duty to ponder the 4NTs, and this is the essence of the Theravada vehicle.

    After ten years of study and meditation I understand the 4NTs infinitely better than before, yet I'm only beginning to scratch the surface.

    The 'stream' analogy is interesting to ponder for a moment; both scions of Western Christendom and Southeast Asia inherited this ancient methaphor; us from Heraclitus and Asia from the Buddha; from our tradition based on these basic insights into impermanence we inherited quantum physics, the computer and space travel; from Asia they inherited the 4NTs; the 4NTs are superior in insight; and take us further to the end of the world than space travel as it takes us to the end of suffering.

    The stream of life is a vortex just like a stream; it is never the same for more than even a second at a time; the 6 senses create the impression of continuity, where no continuity, in fact exists, other than cause and effect, the cause of suffering is attachment to the 6 sense doors. We think of a fire torch at night twirling around as in a circle as a circle; its an illusion; there is no circle; all perception is like this. Suffering will go on forever as long as there is ignorance and ignorance of what? Ignorance of the 4NTs.

    The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta should be memorized by every school child in the world and written on the walls of every school; if aliens from an advanced galaxy ever visit the earth, they will need to understand the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta if they desire an end to suffering themselves.
    Last edited by manoPG; 14 Feb 19 at 19:54.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by manoPG
    The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta should be memorized by every school child in the world and written on the walls of every school; if aliens from an advanced galaxy ever visit the earth, they will need to understand the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta if they desire an end to suffering themselves.

    That's certainly quite an ambitious project!


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