of Buddhism are the four Noble Truths -- namely, Suffering
d'etre of Buddhism), its cause (i.e., Craving), its end
Nibbana, the Summum Bonum of Buddhism), and the Middle Way.
Truth of Suffering?
suffering, old age is suffering, disease is suffering, death
to be united with the unpleasant is suffering, to be
the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one craves
for is suffering,
in brief the five Aggregates of Attachment are suffering."
Truth of the Cause of Suffering?
craving which leads from rebirth to rebirth accompanied by
passion, which delights now here now there; it is the
sensual pleasures (Kamatanha), for existence (Bhavatanha)
and for annihilation (Vibhavatanha)."
Truth of the Annihilation of Suffering?
remainderless, total annihilation of this very craving, the
of it, the breaking loose, fleeing, deliverance from it."
Truth of the Path leading to the Annihilation of Suffering?
Noble Eightfold Path which consists of right understanding,
thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood,
right mindfulness, and right concentration."
arise or not these four Truths exist in the universe. The
only reveal these Truths which lay hidden in the dark abyss
interpreted, the Dhamma may be called the law of cause and
These two embrace the entire body of the Buddha's Teachings.
truths represent the philosophy of Buddhism; the fourth
the ethics of Buddhism, based on that philosophy. All these
are dependent on this body itself. The Buddha states: "In
very one-fathom long body along with perceptions and
I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the end of
and the path leading to the end of the world." Here the term
world is applied to suffering.
on the pivot of sorrow. But it does not thereby follow that
is pessimistic. It is neither totally pessimistic nor
but, on the contrary, it teaches a truth that lies midway
them. One would be justified in calling the Buddha a
he had only enunciated the truth of suffering without
means to put an end to it. The Buddha perceived the
sorrow and did prescribe a panacea for this universal
humanity. The highest conceivable happiness, according to
is Nibbana, which is the total extinction of suffering.
the article on Pessimism in the Encyclopedia Britannica
denotes an attitude of hopelessness towards life, a vague
opinion that pain and evil predominate in human affairs. The
doctrine of the Buddha is in fact as optimistic as any
the West. To call it pessimism is merely to apply to it a
Western principle to which happiness is impossible without
The true Buddhist looks forward with enthusiasm to
enjoyment of sensual pleasures is the highest and only
the average man. There is no doubt a kind of momentary
the anticipation, gratification and retrospection of such
material pleasures, but they are illusive and temporary.
to the Buddha non-attachment is a greater bliss.
not expect his followers to be constantly pondering on
lead a miserable unhappy life. He exhorts them to be always
and cheerful, for zest (piti) is one of the factors
is found within, and is not to be defined in terms of
honor or fame. If such possessions are misdirected, forcibly
obtained, misappropriated or even viewed with attachment,
be a source of pain and sorrow to the possessors.
to rationalize suffering, Buddhism takes suffering for
seeks the cause to eradicate it. Suffering exists as long as
is craving. It can only be annihilated by treading the Noble
Path and attaining the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
can be verified by experience. Hence the Buddha Dhamma is
on the fear of the unknown, but is founded on the bedrock of
which can be tested by ourselves and verified by experience.
is, therefore, rational and intensely practical.
and practical system cannot contain mysteries or esoteric
Blind faith, therefore, is foreign to Buddhism. Where there
blind faith there cannot be any coercion or persecution or
To the unique credit of Buddhism it must be said that
peaceful march of 2500 years no drop of blood was shed in
of the Buddha, no mighty monarch wielded his powerful sword
the Dhamma, and no conversion was made either by force or by
methods. Yet, the Buddha was the first and the greatest
that lived on earth.
writes: "Alone of all the great world religions Buddhism
its way without persecution, censorship or inquisition."
"Of the great religions of history, I prefer Buddhism,
in its earliest forms; because it has had the smallest
Buddhism no altar was reddened with the blood of a Hypatia,
was burnt alive. Buddhism appeals more to the intellect than
emotion. It is concerned more with the character of the
with their numerical strength.
Upali, a follower of Nigantha Nataputta, approached the
was so pleased with the Buddha's exposition of the Dhamma
instantly expressed his desire to become a follower of the
But the Buddha cautioned him, saying:
O householder, make a thorough investigation. It is well for
man like you to make (first) a thorough investigation."
overjoyed at this unexpected remark of the Buddha, said:
had I been a follower of another religion, its adherents
taken me round the streets in a procession proclaiming that
such a millionaire had renounced his former faith and
But, Lord, Your Reverence advises me to investigate further.
pleased am I with this remark of yours. For the second time,
I seek refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha."
with this spirit of free enquiry and complete tolerance. It
teaching of the open mind and the sympathetic heart, which,
and warming the whole universe with its twin rays of wisdom
sheds its genial glow on every being struggling in the ocean
so tolerant that he did not even exercise his power to give
to his lay followers. Instead of using the imperative, he
behooves you to do this -- It behooves you not to do this."
commands not but does exhort.
the Buddha extended to men, women and all living beings.
who first attempted to abolish slavery and vehemently
the degrading caste system which was firmly rooted in the
India. In the Word of the Buddha it is not by mere birth one
an outcast or a noble, but by one's actions. Caste or colour
not preclude one from becoming a Buddhist or from entering
Fishermen, scavengers, courtesans, together with warriors
were freely admitted to the Order and enjoyed equal
were also given positions of rank. Upali, the barber, for
was made, in preference to all others, the chief in matters
to Vinaya discipline. The timid Sunita, the scavenger, who
arahatship was admitted by the Buddha himself into the
the robber and criminal, was converted to a compassionate
fierce Alavaka sought refuge in the Buddha and became a
courtesan Ambapali entered the Order and attained
instances could easily be multiplied from the Tipitaka to
the portals of Buddhism were wide open to all, irrespective
colour or rank.
Buddha who raised the status of downtrodden women and not
them to a realization of their importance to society but
the first celibate religious order for women with rules and
not humiliate women, but only regarded them as feeble by
saw the innate good of both men and women and assigned to
due places in his teaching. Sex is no barrier to attaining
Pali term used to denote women is matugama, which
or "society of mothers." As a mother, woman holds an
place in Buddhism. Even the wife is regarded as "best
(parama sakha) of the husband.
are only making ex parte statements when they
with being inimical to women. Although at first the Buddha
to admit women into the Order on reasonable grounds, yet
yielded to the entreaties of his foster-mother, Pajapati
founded the Bhikkhuni Order. Just as the Arahats Sariputta
were made the two chief disciples in the Order of monks,
even so he
appointed Arahats Khema and Uppalavanna as the two chief
Many other female disciples too were named by the Buddha
his distinguished and pious followers.
the Buddha said to King Kosala who was displeased on hearing
a daughter was born to him: "A
woman child, O Lord of men; may prove even a better
otherwise would have fallen into oblivion, distinguished
in various ways, and gained their emancipation by following
and entering the Order. In this new Order, which later
proved to be
a great blessing to many women, queens, princesses,
daughters of noble
families, widows, bereaved mothers, destitute women,
-- all, despite their caste or rank, met on a common
perfect consolation and peace, and breathed that free
is denied to those cloistered in cottages and palatial
Buddha who banned the sacrifice of poor beasts and
followers to extend their loving-kindness (metta) to
beings -- even to the tiniest creature that crawls at one's
No man has the power or the right to destroy the life of
life is precious to all.
would exercise this loving-kindness towards every living
identify himself with all, making no distinction whatsoever
to caste, colour or sex.
metta that attempts to break all the barriers which separate
another. There is no reason to keep aloof from others merely
they belong to another persuasion or another nationality. In
noble Toleration Edict which is based on Culla-Vyuha and
Suttas, Asoka says: "Concourse alone is best, that is, all
harken willingly to the doctrine professed by others."
confined to any country or any particular nation. It is
It is not nationalism which, in other words, is another form
system founded on a wider basis. Buddhism, if it be
permitted to say
so, is supernationalism.
there is no far or near, no enemy or foreigner, no renegade
since universal love realized through understanding has
the brotherhood of all living beings. A real Buddhist is a
of the world. He regards the whole world as his motherland
as his brothers and sisters.
unique, mainly owing to its tolerance, non-aggressiveness,
practicability, efficacy and universality. It is the noblest
unifying influences and the only lever that can uplift the
of the salient features of Buddhism, and amongst some of the
doctrines may be said: Kamma or the Law of Moral Causation,
of Rebirth, Anatta and Nibbana.