part4.JPG (7787 bytes)

1. The Buddha's Words
pra_11.JPG (6979 bytes)  All of the Buddha's Teachings can in one be sense be estimated to total 84,000 items. They have been recorded in the 45 volumes of what is called the TIPITAKA, the Sacred Books of Buddhism. The voluminousity and great variety are due to the fact that the Buddha, after His Enlightenment on the fullmoon Vesa.gif (845 bytes)kha night, had undertaken to teach so many people in so many places far 45 years.

Diverse and voluminous as His teachings are, they can be classified under three main groups called Ova.gif (845 bytes)dapa.gif (845 bytes)timokkha or Synopsis of the Buddha's Teachings. This was an instruction given by the Buddha Himself to the group of Arahat Bhikkhus (monks who were fully liberated ones) numbering 1,250 in all. The event took place on the fullmoon day of the Ma.gif (845 bytes)gha lunar month, 9 months after His Enlightenment. The three groups or mainstays of the Buddha's Teachings are :

Not to do evil. To do good. To purify the mind.
1.1 Not to do evil.

This means to avoid or abstain from all kinds and levels of evil such as the acts of dishonesty or cruelty, be they physical, verbal or mental. To achieve this purpose the Buddha prescribed the 5 and 8 Precepts (Si.gif (57 bytes)la) for lay disciples and the 10 and 227 Precepts for novices and Bhikkhus (monks). Thus the practice of Precepts is included in this category since it is the negative one of abstention from the three channels of evil as earlier mentioned.

1.2 To do good.

This is, in contrast to the first, the positive practices of cultivating, developing and imbuing the whole ants through words, deeds and thoughts. Hence the Buddha's Teaching of the Five Corresponding Virtues in conjunction with the Five Precepts. Those virtues are Loving-kindness and Compassion, Right Means of Liveli-hood, Self-restraint in Sexual Behavior, Truthfulness and Mindfulness. Other practices can also be included in this category. They are, for instance, honesty, diligence, sacrifice, patience, forbearance, heedfulness.

1.3 To purify the mind.

This means to wash the mind off its Defilements (Kilesa) such as greed, anger, delusion and the five hindrances such as sensual delight. There are prescribed two categories of purifying the mind

        1.3.1 Tranquility (Samatha). This is first of all to make the mind calm and one-pointed through such practices as mindfulness of breaths and recitation of Buddho. Such practices having been followed out enable the aspirants to achieve the lofty condition of mind called Absorption (Jha.gif (845 bytes)na). However, these practices can not as yet be productive of the supra-mundane results viz. the Path (Magga), the Fruition (Phala) and Nibba.gif (845 bytes)na (Total Extinction of Defilements). The aspirants are required to further their progress through the practice for the sake of Insight (Vipassana.gif (845 bytes)), contemplating the Three Common Characteristics i.e. Changeability, destructibility and Non-substantiality of San.gif (66 bytes)kha.gif (845 bytes)ra (the conditioners as well as the conditioned)

        1.3.2 Insight (Vipassana.gif (845 bytes)). This implies the exercise of wisdom to penetrate the nature of San.gif (66 bytes)kha.gif (845 bytes)ra i.e. the Three Common Characteristics described above. It is this category of practices that will enable the aspirants to achieve the total Extinction of Defilements and for that matter of sufferings. This is the supra-mundane level, the criterion of achievement in Buddhism.

        Such is how the Buddha's Teachings, diverse and voluminous as they are, can be summed up into three kinds or levels of practice. An aspirant earnestly following these prescribed practices is rightfully called a real Buddhist.

              left.gif (1278 bytes)Back to Content           Next Topicright.gif (1301 bytes)

Copyright © 2002 Mahidol University All rights reserved.
Mahidol University Computing Center, Rama VI Road, Rajathewi, Bangkok 10400, THAILAND Tel. (662) 354-4333