Buddhism: Major Doctrines
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
1. The problem: suffering (dis-ease).
2. The cause: desires (thirsting).
3. The ideal: nirvana, the end of suffering & desires.
4. The process: the Eightfold Path; meditation of various kinds; monasticism, itinerancy, or solitude.
FIRST NOBLE TRUTH
“All life is suffering.” Duhkha.
We are always dissatisfied, anxious.
Even when we think we are happy, underneath we “live lives of quiet desperation.”
SECOND NOBLE TRUTH
“Desires cause suffering.” Trsna.
Not just nasty or selfish desires. Any desire to change the world. Even the desire to do well or help others or save the planet.
This dominates our psyche: thirsting.
Craving for things; aversion to things; attachment to what we have.
THIRD NOBLE TRUTH
“Extinction”: the end to suffering and desires. Nirvana.
Basic attitude: equanimity, tranquility & openness.
Psychology/Ontology: unity with reality and all things interwoven.
Consciousness: direct perception and oneness with object of perception.
Action: not based on desires > spontaneity.
Emotions: no emotions, or undisturbed free flow.
FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH
“The Eightfold Path.” Includes morality, wisdom, and meditation.
Main technique: meditation. Break the control of our ADD mind so we can experience reality with undisturbed openness.
Meditation can take many forms, including art.
Often requires break from normal life: monasticism, wayfaring, or reclusion.
“Emptiness.” Not empty of reality, but empty of “thingness”: independence and permanence.
All things are radically interrelated. Everything comes into being by mutual co-arising and exists in mutual conditioning.
An unbroken field of being, with distinctness retained, like a gravitational field.
We have desires (and thus suffering) because we are deluded about reality. We believe there is a “self” separate from the world-out-there.
Because we are separate from the world, there are things to want and to fear.
Enlightenment comes when we realize there is no self/other dichotomy, there is no gap between consciousness and reality.
Nothing in permanent.
Two basic formulations:
>> Everything will pass away and go out
>> All things are in flux every moment
Thus attachments and desires are deluded and lead to suffering.
Fundamental Buddhist doctrine that developed and changed over time
Early notion: we have the potential to become Buddhas (enlightened)
we all ARE Buddhas: "original enlightenment"
the phenomenal world is the Buddha
Related to the notion of nonself. No self that "has" consciousness (versus Descartes' "I think therefore I am")
Denies the dichotomy between subjective consciousness and objective reality. Instead: "direct perception."
Ideal of "seeing things as they are," which involves perception devoid of the subject/object split and desires and dis-ease
THE VALUE OF NATURE
Nature is valued highly.
But our response to the value of nature problematic.
Nature can help lead us to enlightenment, or it can be a source of attachment.