In the first Dharma teaching Sakyamuni Buddha delivered after realizing Enlightenment seated beneath the Bodhi Tree, he expressed the content of his awakening as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
The Four Noble Truths
The Truth of Suffering
- Life is unavoidably connected with suffering. The Buddha identified the following eight types of suffering:
- Separation from things and people we love
- Contact with things and people we dislike
- Being unable to acquire what we wish
- The existence of continual suffering
The Truth of the Cause
- Suffering is created by our egotism and obstinacy, which flare up in our lives as the base passions of greed, anger, and ignorance.
The Truth of Cessation
- We can realize an end to our suffering by giving up the egotistic mind, so that our base passions no longer control us.
The Truth of the Path
- We can transcend the ego—the source of our suffering—by following the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhist practice:
- Right View: to keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition and delusion and to see aright the true nature of life.
- Right Thought: to turn away from the evils of the world and direct our minds toward righteousness.
- Right Speech: to refrain from pointless and harmful talk and to speak kindly and courteously to all.
- Right Conduct: to see that our deeds are peaceful, benevolent, compassionate and pure; to live the teachings daily.
- Right Livelihood: to earn out a living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences.
- Right Effort: to direct our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance and craving desires.
- Right Mindfulness: to cherish good and pure thoughts, for all that we say and do arise from our thoughts.
- Right Meditation: to concentrate our will on the Buddha, his life and his teachings.