Quickly after his Awakening, the Buddha provided his first preaching, in which he set out the essential framework upon which all his later mentors were based. This framework includes the Four Noble Realities, four fundamental concepts of nature (Dhamma) that emerged from the Buddha’s significantly honest and penetrating assessment of the human condition. He taught these truths not as metaphysical theories or as posts of faith, but as categories by which we should frame our direct experience in such a way that conduces to Awakening:
Dukkha: suffering, unsatisfactoriness, discontent, stress;
The reason for dukkha: the reason for this frustration is yearning (tanha) for sensuality, for states of ending up being, and states of no ending up being;
The cessation of dukkha: the relinquishment of that yearning;
The course of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha: the Noble Eightfold Course of best view, best willpower, right speech, best action, right livelihood, best effort, best mindfulness, and right concentration.
Since of our lack of knowledge (avijja) of these Noble Truths, due to the fact that of our lack of experience in framing the world in their terms, we stay bound to samsara, the wearisome cycle of birth, aging, illness, death, and renewal. Yearning propels this process onward, from one moment to the next and over the course of many life times, in accordance with kamma (Skt. karma), the universal law of domino effect. According to this immutable law, every action that a person performs in the present minute– whether by body, speech, or mind itself– eventually flourishes according to its skillfulness: act in unskillful and hazardous methods and misery is bound to follow; act skillfully and joy will ultimately take place.  As long as one remains ignorant of this concept, one is destined an aimless existence: happy one moment, in anguish the next; delighting in one life time in paradise, the next in hell.
The Buddha found that getting release from samsara requires designating to each of the Noble Truths a specific task: the very first Noble Reality is to be comprehended; the second, abandoned; the 3rd, understood; the fourth, established. The full awareness of the third Noble Reality paves the way for Awakening: the end of ignorance, yearning, suffering, and kamma itself; the direct penetration to the transcendent freedom and supreme joy that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha’s mentors; the Unconditioned, the Deathless, Unbinding– Nibbana (Skt. Nirvana).
THE EIGHTFOLD PATH AND THE PRACTICE OF DHAMMA
Because the roots of ignorance are so totally braided with the material of the mind, the unawakened mind can deceiving itself with spectacular resourcefulness. The option therefore requires more than merely being kind, caring, and mindful in today moment. The professional needs to equip him- or herself with the expertise to utilize a range of tools to outwit, outlast, and ultimately uproot the mind’s unskillful tendencies. For instance, the practice of generosity (dana) wears down the heart’s habitual propensities towards craving and teaches important lessons about the motivations behind, and the outcomes of, experienced action. The practice of virtue (sila) guards one versus straying hugely off-course and into damage’s method. The cultivation of goodwill (metta) assists to undermine anger’s sexy grasp. The 10 recollections provide methods to ease doubt, bear physical pain with composure, preserve a healthy sense of self-regard, overcome laziness and complacency, and restrain oneself from unchecked lust. And there are many more skills to learn.
The great qualities that emerge and grow from these practices not just smooth the method for the journey to Nibbana; in time they have the effect of transforming the specialist into a more generous, caring, caring, tranquil, and clear-headed member of society. The individual’s genuine pursuit of Awakening is therefore an invaluable and prompt gift to a world in desperate need of aid.
The Eightfold Course is best comprehended as a collection of personal qualities to be established, rather than as a sequence of steps along a linear course. The development of right view and ideal resolve (the elements classically related to knowledge and discernment) helps with the advancement of ideal speech, action, and livelihood (the factors identified with virtue). As virtue establishes so do the aspects related to concentration (best effort, mindfulness, and concentration). Similarly, as concentration grows, discernment develops to a still much deeper level. Therefore the procedure unfolds: advancement of one element fosters development of the next, raising the practitioner in an upward spiral of spiritual maturity that eventually culminates in Awakening.
The long journey to Awakening starts in earnest with the first tentative stirrings of ideal view– the discernment by which one recognizes the validity of the 4 Noble Truths and the principle of kamma. One begins to see that a person’s future wellness is neither moiraied by fate, nor left to the whims of a divine being or random possibility. The duty for one’s joy rests directly on one’s own shoulders. Seeing this, one’s spiritual goals end up being all of a sudden clear: to give up the regular unskillful tendencies of the mind in favor of competent ones. As this right resolve grows stronger, so does the heartfelt desire to live a morally upright life, to pick one’s actions with care.
At this moment lots of followers make the inward dedication to take the Buddha’s teachings to heart, to end up being “Buddhist” through the act of taking haven in the Triple Gem: the Buddha (both the historic Buddha and one’s own innate capacity for Awakening), the Dhamma (both the Buddha’s mentors and the supreme Reality towards which they point), and the Sangha (both the unbroken monastic family tree that has actually maintained the teachings since the Buddha’s day, and all those who have actually achieved at least some degree of Awakening). With one’s feet therefore planted on solid ground, and with the assistance of an admirable good friend or instructor (kalyanamitta) to assist the method, one is now fully equipped to continue down the Path, following in the footsteps left by the Buddha himself.
Right view and right willpower continue to grow through the development of the course aspects connected with sila, or virtue– specifically, ideal speech, best action, and ideal income. These are condensed into a really practical kind in the 5 precepts, the standard code of ethical conduct to which every practicing Buddhist subscribes: avoiding killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and utilizing intoxicants. Even the monks’ complex code of 227 guidelines and the nuns’ 311 ultimately have these five fundamental precepts at their core.
Having actually acquired a foothold in the purification of one’s external habits through the practice of sila, the necessary foundation has been laid for diving into the most subtle and transformative element of the course: meditation and the development of samadhi, or concentration. This is defined in information in the final 3 path aspects: right effort, by which one finds out how to favor skillful qualities of mind over unskillful ones; ideal mindfulness, by which one discovers to keep one’s attention continually grounded in today minute of experience; and best concentration, by which one finds out to immerse the mind so completely and unwaveringly in its meditation item that it enters jhana, a series of gradually much deeper states of psychological and physical tranquillity.
Right mindfulness and ideal concentration are established in tandem through satipatthana (“frames of reference” or “foundations of mindfulness”), a systematic approach to meditation practice that accepts a vast array of skills and techniques. Of these practices, mindfulness of the body (especially mindfulness of breathing) is especially effective at bringing into balance the twin qualities of serenity (samatha) and insight (vipassana), or clear-seeing. Through persistent practice, the meditator ends up being more adept at bringing the combined powers of samatha-vipassana to bear in an exploration of the essential nature of body and mind.  As the meditator masters the capability to frame his immediate experience in regards to anicca (inconstancy), dukkha, and anatta (not-self), even the subtlest manifestations of these three qualities of experience are brought into exquisitely sharp focus. At the very same time, the root cause of dukkha– craving– is non-stop exposed to the light of awareness. Ultimately craving is entrusted no location to conceal, the entire karmic process that produces dukkha unravels, the eightfold course reaches its noble climax, and the meditator gains, at long last, his/her first apparent glance of the Unconditioned– Nibbana.
This very first knowledge experience, called stream-entry (sotapatti), is the first of four progressive phases of Awakening, each of which entails the irreversible shedding or weakening of numerous fetters (samyojana), the symptoms of lack of knowledge that bind a person to the cycle of birth and death. Stream-entry marks an extraordinary and extreme turning point both in the specialist’s present life and in the totality of his/her long journey in samsara. For it is at this point that any remaining doubts about the truth of the Buddha’s teachings disappear; it is at this point that any belief in the cleansing efficacy of rites and rituals vaporizes; and it is at this point that the long-cherished concept of an abiding personal “self” falls away. The stream-enterer is said to be guaranteed of no greater than 7 future renewals (all of them favorable) before eventually achieving full Awakening.
But full Awakening is still a long method off. As the professional presses on with renewed diligence, he or she goes through two more significant landmarks: once-returning (sakadagati), which is accompanied by the weakening of the fetters of sensual desire and ill-will, and non-returning (agati), in which these two fetters are rooted out completely. The final stage of Awakening– arahatta– happens when even the most refined and subtle levels of craving and conceit are irrevocably extinguished. At this moment the specialist– now an arahant, or “worthy one”– comes to the end-point of the Buddha’s teaching. With ignorance, suffering, stress, and renewal having all pertained to their end, the arahant at last can utter the triumph cry first declared by the Buddha upon his Awakening:
“Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the job done! There is absolutely nothing more for the sake of this world.”
— MN 36
The arahant lives out the rest of his or her life inwardly delighting in the bliss of Nibbana, safe and secure at last from the possibility of any future rebirth. When the arahant’s aeons-long path of previous kamma ultimately relaxes to its end, the arahant passes away and he or she enters into parinibbana– overall Unbinding. Although language utterly stops working at describing this amazing occasion, the Buddha compared it to what occurs when a fire lastly burns up all its fuel.
“The severe pursuit of happiness”
Buddhism is in some cases naïvely slammed as a “unfavorable” or “cynical” religion and philosophy. Definitely life is not all anguish and disappointment: it uses lots of sort of joy and sublime delight. Why then this gloomy Buddhist fascination with unsatisfactoriness and suffering?
The Buddha based his teachings on a frank evaluation of our predicament as human beings: there is unsatisfactoriness and suffering on the planet. Nobody can argue this truth. Dukkha hides behind even the highest types of worldly pleasure and happiness, for, eventually, as certainly as night follows day, that happiness needs to pertain to an end. Were the Buddha’s mentors to stop there, we might certainly regard them as cynical and life as entirely hopeless. But, like a physician who recommends a treatment for a health problem, the Buddha uses both a hope (the third Noble Truth) and a treatment (the fourth). The Buddha’s mentors hence provide cause for unparalleled optimism and joy. The teachings offer as their benefit the noblest, truest type of happiness, and provide extensive worth and suggesting to an otherwise grim presence. One modern-day instructor summed it up well: “Buddhism is the serious pursuit of joy.”
Theravada Comes West
Until the late 19th century, the teachings of Theravada were unknown beyond southern Asia, where they had flourished for some 2 and one-half millennia. In the previous century, nevertheless, the West has actually begun to notice Theravada’s special spiritual tradition in its teachings of Awakening. In recent years this interest has actually swelled, with the monastic Sangha from numerous schools within Theravada developing dozens of abbeys throughout Europe and North America. Increasing varieties of ordinary meditation centers, established and operated independently of the monastic Sangha, strain to satisfy the needs of ordinary men and women– Buddhist and otherwise– seeking to find out selected elements of the Buddha’s mentors.
The turn of the 21st century presents both chances and threats for Theravada in the West: Will the Buddha’s teachings be patiently studied and implemented, and enabled to develop deep roots in Western soil, for the advantage of many generations to come? Will the current popular Western climate of “openness” and cross-fertilization between spiritual customs lead to the emergence of a strong new type of Buddhist practice distinct to the modern-day era, or will it just result in confusion and the dilution of these priceless mentors? These are open questions; just time will tell.
Spiritual mentors of every description flood the media and the marketplace today. Many of today’s popular spiritual mentors obtain freely from the Buddha, though just seldom do they put the Buddha’s words in their real context. Earnest seekers of fact are therefore frequently faced with the unsavory task of wading through fragmentary mentors of suspicious accuracy. How are we to make sense of all of it?
Fortunately the Buddha left us with some basic standards to help us browse through this bewildering flood. Whenever you find yourself questioning the authenticity of a particular teaching, hearken well the Buddha’s advice to his stepmother:
[The teachings that promote] the qualities of which you might understand, ‘These qualities cause enthusiasm, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unconfined; to building up, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to privacy; to laziness, not to aroused determination; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome’: You may unconditionally hold, ‘This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher’s direction.’
[As for the mentors that promote] the qualities of which you might know, ‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unconfined, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to building up; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to privacy, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being challenging’: You might unconditionally hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Instructor’s guideline.’
Source|Via: postshare.net Source