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-1What the Buddha Taught
A series of lecture-discussions sponsored by
Oxford Soto Zen
Suggested by Les Kaye
Led by Jimmyle Listenbee
Based on What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
-2Lecture 8
Chapter 5-C (pp. 49 - 50)
The Four Noble Truths
The 4th Noble Truth:
MAGGA: “The Path”
-3The Four Noble Truths
Samudaya, the arising or origin of dukkha
Nirodha, the cessation of dukkha
Magga, the way leading to the cessation of
-4The 4th Noble Truth:
The Way
Leading to the Cessation of Dukkha
AKA: “The Noble Eightfold Path”
“The Middle Way”
-5The Middle Path
Avoids two extremes:
• The search for happiness through the
Pleasures of the Senses (“low, common,
unprofitable, the way of ordinary [ignorant]
• The search for happiness through selfmortification (“painful, unworthy,
unprofitable, the way of the ascetics”)
-6The Noble Eightfold Path
(a composite - not linear - list)
Right Understanding
Right Thought
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
Buddha’s Essential Practice
Practical Guide for all Buddhist Practice
The 8 divisions of the path are not “stepping
stones”, but are to be practiced and
developed simultaneously, as far as possible,
according to the capacity of the individual.
They are all linked together, and each helps the
cultivation of the others.
-8The Three Essentials
of Buddhist Training & Discipline
a) Ethical Conduct (Sila)
b) Mental Discipline (Samadhi)
c) Wisdom (Pañña)
The Eightfold Path aims at perfecting and
promoting these.
The Eight Divisions of the Path can be grouped
under these three headings.
-9Three Headings
 Wisdom
① Right Understanding
② Right Thought
 Ethical Conduct
③ Right Speech
④ Right Action
⑤ Right Livelihood
 Mental Discipline
⑥ Right Effort
⑦ Right Mindfulness
⑧ Right Concentration
Today we address Wisdom
-10Buddhist “Perfection”
There are two qualities to be developed:
Wisdom and Compassion
Wisdom underlies and supports each step of the
Noble Eightfold Path;
Each step of the Noble Eightfold Path underlies
and supports Wisdom.
And compassion are developed through:
① Right Thought
② Right Concentration
-12(1) Right Thought
Thoughts of
1 Selfless renunciation (detachment);
2 Love;
3 Non-violence.
A lack of wisdom produces thoughts of selfish
desire, ill-will, hatred and violence – in all
spheres of life: individual, social, and political.
Continuing to hold or pursue such thoughts
prevents the development of wisdom.
-13(2) Right Understanding
The understanding of Things as they Are.
‘Things as they really are’ is a concept explained
through the Four Noble Truths. – See slide 3
Right Understanding
therefore is ultimately reduced to
the understanding of the Four Noble Truths:
“The Highest Wisdom,
which Sees the Ultimate Reality”.
-14What is “Understanding”?
According to Buddhism, there are 2 types:
1 Knowledge, or ‘knowing accordingly’
- Accumulated memory, an intellectual
grasping of a subject according to
certain given data;
- Shallow knowledge.
2 Penetration or ‘deep understanding’
- Seeing a thing in its true nature,
- Without naming or labeling it.
-15The Noble Eightfold Path Summary
As seen from this brief account of the Tao, it is a way
of life to be followed, practiced and developed by
the individual.
It is:
 Self-discipline in body, word and mind;
 Self-development and Self-purification.
It has nothing to do with:
 Belief
 Prayer
 Worship
 Ceremony
In this sense, not “religious”
Role of Ceremonies & Rituals
Read p. 50 “In Buddhist countries…gradually along
the path.”
What about our rituals of bells, chants, bowing,
lighting incense, etc.?
-17The Four Functions we have to Perform
in Regard to the Four Noble Truths are:
1 To Understand Dukka (suffering) as a fact;
2 To discard, eliminate, destroy and eradicate the
causes of suffering, ‘Thirst’ and clinging;
3 To realize the ultimate reality: the cessation of
4 To follow the Eightfold Path and keep to it.