Buddhism in Buddha’s Words
The present text –– is a systematic exposition of all the main tenets of the Buddha’s Teachings presented in the Master’s own words as found in the Sutta-Pitaka of the Buddhist Pali Canon.
While it may well serve as a first introduction for the beginner,
its chief aim is to give the reader who is already more or less acquainted with the fundamental ideas of Buddhism, a clear, concise and authentic summary of its various doctrines,
within the framework of the all-embracing ‘,’ i.e. the Truths of Suffering (inherent in all existence), of its Origin, of its Extinction, and of the Way leading to its extinction, as also the Noble Eight-fold Path to Liberation.
From the text itself it will be seen how the teachings of the Buddha all ultimately converge upon the one final goal: Deliverance from Suffering.
It is for this reason that Aṅguttara Nikāya says:
Not only the fact of Suffering do I teach,
but also the deliverance from it.
As the text contains many definitions and explanations of important doctrinal terms together with their Pali equivalents, it can serve as a text of reference and a helpful companion throughout one’s study of the Buddha’s doctrine.
C. The Eightfold Path:
The citations use the following abbreviations:
Dīgha Nikāya. The number refers to the Sutta.
Majjhima-Nikāya. The number refers to the Sutta.
Aṅguttara-Nikāya. The Roman number refers to the main division into Parts or Nipātas; the second number, to the Sutta.
Samyutta-Nikāya. The Roman number refers to the division into ‘Kindred Groups’ (Saṁyutta), e.g.
Devatā--Saṁyutta = I, etc.; the second number refers to the Sutta.
Dhammapada. The number refers to the verse.
Udāna. The Roman number refers to the Chapters, the second number to the Sutta.
Sutta-Nipāta. The number refers to the verse.
Viśuddhi-Magga (‘The Path of Puriﬁcation’).
or Enlightened One—lit. or —is the honoriﬁc name given to the Indian Sage, Gotama, who discovered and proclaimed to the world the Law of Deliverance, known to the West by the name of Buddhism.
He was born in the, as the son of the king who ruled the Sakya country, a principality situated in the border area of modern Nepal.
His personal name was, and his clan name (Sanskrit: ).
In his 29th year he renounced the splendour of his princely life and his royal career, and became a homeless ascetic in order to ﬁnd a way out of what he had early recognized as a world of suffering.
After a six year’s quest, spent under various religious teachers and in a period of fruitless self-mortiﬁcation, he ﬁnally attained to(sammā--sambodhi), under the Bodhi tree at Gayā (today Buddh-Gayā).
Five and forty years of tireless preaching and teaching followed and at last,, there that ‘undeluded being that appeared for the blessing and happiness of the world.’
The Buddha is neither a god nor a prophet or incarnation of a god, but a supreme human being who, through his own effort, attained to Final Deliverance and Perfect Wisdom, and became ‘the peerless teacher of gods and men.’
He is a ‘Saviour’ only in the sense that he shows men how to save themselves, by actually following to the end the Path trodden and shown by him.
In the consummate harmony of Wisdom and Compassion attained by the Buddha, he embodies the universal and timeless ideal of Man Perfected.
Theis the in its entirety, as discovered, realized and proclaimed by the Buddha.
It has been handed down in the ancientlanguage, and preserved in three great collections of hooks, called , the “ ,” namely:
(I) the , or Collection of , containing the rules of the monastic order;
(II) the , or Collection of , consisting of various books of discourses, dialogues, verses, stories, etc. and dealings with the doctrine proper as summarized in the Four Noble Truths;
(Ill) the , or Collection; presenting the teachings of the Sutta-Piṭaka in strictly systematic and philosophical form.
The Dhamma is not a doctrine of revelation, but the teaching of Enlightenment based on the clear comprehension of actuality:
It is the teaching of the Fourfold Truth dealing with the fundamental facts of life and with liberation attainable through man’s own effort towards puriﬁcation and insight.
The Dhamma offers a lofty, but realistic, system of ethics, a penetrative analysis of life, a profound philosophy, practical methods of mind training—in brief, an all-comprehensive and perfect guidance on the Path to Deliverance.
By answering the claims of both heart and reason, and by pointing out the liberating Middle Path that leads beyond all futile and destructive extremes in thought and conduct,
the Dhamma has, and will always have, a timeless and universal appeal wherever there are hearts and minds mature enough to appreciate its message.
The—lit. the , or —is the , founded by the Buddha and still existing in its original form in Burma, Siam, Ceylon, Cambodia, Laos and Chittagong (Bengal).
It is, together with the Order of the Jain monks, the oldest monastic order in the world.
Amongst the most famous disciples in the time of the Buddha were:
who, after the Master himself, possessed the profoundest insight into the Dhamma;
, who had the greatest supernatural powers:
, the devoted disciple and constant companion of the Buddha;
, the President of the Council held at Rājagaha immediately after the Buddha’s death;
, of divine vision, and master of Right Mindfulness;
- the Buddha’s own son.
The Sangha provides the outer framework and the favourable conditions for all those who earnestly desire to devote their life entirely to the realization of the highest goal of deliverance, unhindered by worldly distractions.
Thus the Sangha, too, is of universal and timeless signiﬁcance wherever religious development reaches maturity.
THE THREEFOLD REFUGE
The, the , and the , are called ‘ ’ (ti-ratana) on account of their matchless purity, and as being to the Buddhist the most precious objects in the world.
These ‘’ form also the ‘ ’ (ti-saraṇa) of the Buddhist, in the words by which he pro- fesses, or re-afﬁrms, his acceptance of them as the guides of his life and thought.
Theis still the same as in the Buddha’s time:
Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi
Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi
Sanghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
I go for refuge to the Buddha
I go for refuge to the Dhamma
I go for refuge to the Sangha.
It is through the simple act of reciting this formula three times that one declares oneself a Buddhist. (At the second and third repetition the wordor , ‘for the second/ third time,’ are added before each sentence.)
THE FIVE PRECEPTS
After the formula of the Threefold Refuge follows usually the acceptance of the( ). Their observance is the minimum standard needed to form the basis of a decent life and of further progress towards Deliverance.
1. Pānātipātā veramaṇī-sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from killing living beings.
2. Adinnādānā veramaṇī-sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking things not given.
3. Kāmesu michcācārā veramaṇī -sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct.
4. Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from false speech.
5. Surāmeraya - majja - pamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī--sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.