Buddhism is the world’s oldest missionary religion. Since its beginnings some 2,500 years ago in northern India, it has spread around the world. There are now more than 350 million Buddhists in the world, most of whom belong to one of the 2 major schools: the Mahāyāna and the Theravāda.

Perhaps the single most significant unifying factor for the world’s diverse Buddhist populations is the figure of the Buddha himself, Siddhārtha Gautama.

Certain core philosophical tenets and beliefs that cut across the Buddhist world include Karma, Nirvāna, and renunciation.

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4 Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are:

1. Noble Truth of Dukkha or Suffering (Dukkha Sacca)
2. Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha (Samudaya Sacca)
3. Noble Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha (Nirodha Sacca)
4. Noble Truth of the Path of Cessation of Dukkha (Magga Sacca)

2. Why are they called Noble Truths?

a) They are truths because they are real and form an incontrovertible fact of life: Whether Buddhas arise or not, they exist in the world. It is the Buddhas who reveal them to mankind.

b) They are called Noble (Ariya) because they were discovered by the Greatest Noble Person i.e. one who is utterly remote from all defilements.

Alternatively, they are Noble Truths owing to the establishment of nobleness by the discovery and penetration of them i.e. those who have penetrated the Four Noble Truths are called Ariyas or Noble Ones.

8-Fold Path

The 8-fold Path is the middle way that the Buddha described during his first sermon, the way between the 2 extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

The 8 limbs of the path consist of:

1. Right View,
2. Right Intention,
3. Right Speech,
4. Right Action,
5. Right Livelihood,
6. Right Effort,
7. Right Mindfulness, and
8. Right Concentration.

Dependent Origination

Whoever understands Dependent Origination understands the teaching of the Buddha, and whoever understands the teaching of the Buddha understands Dependent Origination


12 Links of Moral Causation:

1. avidya (ignorance),
2. saṁskāra (conformations),
3. vijñāna (consciousness),
4. nāma-rūpa (name and form),
5. ṣaḍāyatana (6 fields of sense-organs),
6. sparśa (contact),
7. vedanā (sensation),
8. tṛṣṇā (desire or craving),
9. upādāna (attachment),
10. bhāva (existence),
11. Jāti (birth), and
12. jarā-maraṇa (old age and death).

Duḥkha - Suffering

This, bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth that is Suffering:

Birth is suffering; old age is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow and grief, physical and mental suffering, and disturbance are suffering.

Association with things not liked is suffering, separation from desired things is suffering; not getting what one wants is suffering; in short, the 5 aggregates of grasping are suffering.

Duḥkha (Pāli: dukkha) is most often translated as “suffering,” although in a wider sense – any imperfection and dependency on conditions is what creates a suffering and hence – are suffering themselves.

10 unwholesome actions

The 10 kinds of unwholesome actions are as follows

a) caused by deeds:-

1. Killing
2. Stealing; and
3. Adultery (Sexual Misconduct)

b) caused by speech:-

4. Lying
5. Slandering
6. Harsh or abusive words, and
7. Frivolous words or idle Gossip

c) caused by thoughts:

8. Covetousness
9. Ill-will, and
10. Wrong View/Delusion

Thus they make up the total of 10 unwholesome or demeritorious actions enumerated in Buddhism.

10 Beneficial Actions

Antidotes to the 10 unwholesome actions are the 10 Beneficial Actions; also known as the 10 Meritorious Actions which are as follows:-

1. Dāna => Charity or Generosity
2. Śīla => Morality
3. Bhāvana => Meditation or Concentration of the Mind;
4. Apacayana => Reverence or Respecting the respectable (usually the elders)
5. Veyyāvacca => Service or Volunteer to help
6. Pattidāna => Sharing of merits
7. Pattānumodana => Rejoicing or Gladness in other’s merits
8. Dhammasavana => Hearing or studying the Doctrine
9. Dhammadesana => Expounding or propagating the Doctrine
10. Ditthijjukamma => Straightening of one’s own views

Pāramīs in Theravāda

Pāramitā (Sanskrit, Pāḷi) or pāramī (Pāḷi), is a Buddhist term often translated as perfection. It is described in Buddhist commentaries as noble character qualities generally associated with Enlightened Beings.

In the Pāḷi Canon, the Buddhavaṁsa of the Khuddaka Nikāya lists the 10 perfections as:

1. Dāna : generosity, giving of oneself
2. Sīla : virtue, morality, proper conduct
3. Nekkhamma : renunciation
4. Paññā : wisdom, discernment
5. Viriya : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
6. Khānti : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
7. Sacca : truthfulness, honesty
8. Adhiṭṭhāna : determination, resolution
9. Mettā : goodwill, friendliness, loving-kindness
10. Upekkhā : equanimity, serenity

Pāramitās in Mahāyāna

Pāramitā refers to the spiritual practice accomplished by a Bodhisattva.

The understanding of Pāramitā in the sense of to reach the other shore suggests that one goes from the ordinary world of Saṁsāra (this shore) to the realm of Nirvāṇa (the other shore).

According to Mahāyāna sources, there are 10 Pāramitās as follows:

1. Dāna (Giving),
2. Śīla (ethical behavior),
3. Kṣānti (patience),
4. Vīrya (endeavor or effort),
5. Dhyāna (contemplation or meditation), and
6. Prajña (Wisdom).
7. Upāya (appropriate action),
8. Praṇidhāna (vow),
9. Bala (strength), and
10. Jñāna (understanding)