The most fundamental Buddhist principles

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The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby Nibbida » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:50 pm

If I think about the most basic elements of Buddhism, I would have to say they are 1.) change (i.e. impermanence) and 2.) causality (cause-and-effect). From these two principles, we could derive every other one. Because of causality, nothing can exist separately, so we have emptiness, and there can be no separate self, so we have anatta. Because of causality, we experience the consequences of all intentional actions (i.e. karma). Dukkha exists because we cling to things that are impermanent and unreliable, and because we fail to recognize anatta. Metta and karuna are far more sensible when one recognizes lack of separateness, etc.

So it seems that the eightfold path and the three marks of existence could be said to exist because of causality and change.

What say you? Does this hold any water? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

:anjali:
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby zavk » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:58 pm

Hi Nibbida

I would agree with you that 'change' and 'casuality' are two principles that underpin Buddhism. Although I would prefer to use the word 'conditionality' over 'casuality' as the latter (as it is conventionally understood) often implies a law of linear cause and effect, which of course doesn't adequately capture paticca-samuppada or dependent origination.

But for the sake of argument, I would also say that there's nothing particularly 'Buddhist' about change and conditionality themselves. Other traditions, religious and non-religious, could also recognise these two principles. Rather, it is the formulation of these two principles as dukkha, anatta, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path that is 'Buddhist'. As I see it, it is only when the two principles are expressed in these manner that they become 'Buddhist'.

Just my two cents....
With metta,
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby phil » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:39 am

Hi all

Interesting question! I'd say the most fundamental principles are simpler. Avoiding evil, do good, purify the mind. And I'd reduce that to avoiding harming others, to begin with, i.e harmlessness. It seems from evidence in the suttas that the Buddha didn't teach the deep topics such as causality or even the four noble truths until he knew that the listener's mind was ready to receive them.

I think there is an MN sutta that lists 60(?) pairs of attributes that one should develop or abandon, and it starts with harmlessness. "Others will be harmful, we here will be harmless" or something like that. In his talk on that sutta, Bhikkhu Bodhi said that harmlessness is considered to be the fundamental starting point, if I recall correctly.

Metta,

Phil
p.s sorry for the paraphrasing on the sutta, best I can do at the moment. If anyone thinks I've misrepresented the Buddha's teaching, please clarify.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby phil » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:00 am

phil wrote:Hi all

Interesting question! I'd say the most fundamental principles are simpler. Avoiding evil, do good, purify the mind. And I'd reduce that to avoiding harming others, to begin with, i.e harmlessness. It seems from evidence in the suttas that the Buddha didn't teach the deep topics such as causality or even the four noble truths until he knew that the listener's mind was ready to receive them.

I think there is an MN sutta that lists 60(?) pairs of attributes that one should develop or abandon, and it starts with harmlessness. "Others will be harmful, we here will be harmless" or something like that. In his talk on that sutta, Bhikkhu Bodhi said that harmlessness is considered to be the fundamental starting point, if I recall correctly.

Metta,

Phil


Hi again. A clarification. It's MN 8, the Salekkha Sutta. The line is "Others will be cruel, we shall not be cruel here" and the BB note says "non-cruelty (avihimsaa) which is a synonym for compassion, is mentionned at the beginning because it is the root of all virtues, especially the root-cause of morality."

Seeing that the training begins with morality (sila), I would say that avihimsaa (I prefer "harmlessness" to "non-cruelty," personally) is the fundamental teaching. But I guess that depends what one means by fundamental! Obviously the previous posters are getting into the higher/deeper truths.

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby chownah » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:38 pm

I think that the Buddha taught that any system of beliefs which contains the elements of the Noble Eightfold Path could lead to awakening.....so I guess that if my memory is correct and this is what the Buddha taught then the Noble Eightfold Path contains the most fundamental Buddhist principles.
chownah

P.S....can someone provide a reference to verify if this is what the Buddha taught?
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby Laurens » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:33 pm

Morality, concentration and wisdom.

That is the basis of all Buddhism as far as I know.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:35 pm

Hi Chownah,
chownah wrote:I think that the Buddha taught that any system of beliefs which contains the elements of the Noble Eightfold Path could lead to awakening.....so I guess that if my memory is correct and this is what the Buddha taught then the Noble Eightfold Path contains the most fundamental Buddhist principles.
chownah

P.S....can someone provide a reference to verify if this is what the Buddha taught?
chownah

I think you are thinking of:
DN 16 Maha-parinibbana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
61. And the Blessed One spoke, saying: "In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness. But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.54 Now in this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true ascetics of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness. Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers. But if, Subhadda, the bhikkhus live righteously, the world will not be destitute of arahats.

Mike
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:42 pm

Mikenz66,
thanks so much for the reference!
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:14 pm

The Buddha said he taught only two things- suffering (phenomena) and the cessation of suffering (the buddhist path).

As I see it the fundamentals of the characteristics of phenomena would be causality (Which leads to impermanence) and perhaps impermanence in it's own right

the fundamentals of the Buddhist path would be mindfulness (of the arisen dhamma) and perhaps wisdom -to understand what is shown by mindfulness IMO

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby BlackBird » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:28 pm

- Four noble truths
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby pink_trike » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:43 pm

Four Noble Truths
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: The most fundamental Buddhist principles

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:26 pm

Four Noble Truths


:thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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