Foundations and Transformations of Buddhism: An Overview
John M. Koller

Central Teachings: The Noble Fourfold Truth and the Noble Eightfold Path

After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha presented the central teaching of Buddhism as the Noble Fourfold Truth. The four parts are:

  • Life as it is usually lived is profoundly unsatisfactory and full of suffering ( duhkha ).
  • The Buddha saw that suffering arises because of ignorance about existence, an existence that is dynamic and ever-changing, consisting of interrelated processes. If the very nature of everything that exists is to be continuously changing and if everything that exists is interrelated and interdependent, then the human craving for permanence, separateness, and independence will be inevitably frustrating.
  • Overcoming the craving for a separate and permanent existence will eliminate suffering.
  • The fourth part offers a way of practice that can eliminate the ignorance and selfish grasping that causes suffering : the Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path consists in wisdom (namely the acquisition of right views and wholesome intentions), virtuous living (right speech, right actions, and right livelihood), and meditative insight achieved by right effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Therefore the eight parts are:

  1. Right views
  2. Right or wholesome intentions
  3. Right speech
  4. Right actions
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

See also:


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