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The Teaching of Buddhism

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The teaching of Buddhism can be very complex as it has come through thousands years and vast regions. Through the book, the author, Dr. Rahula aimed to provide a simple and logical introduction of this complex concept to the educated and intelligent readers. Unlike other religion, Buddha is not an incarnatione of God or a prophetr of God, but an ordinary human being like us. Dr. Rahula did not mentioned how the followers worship Buddha nor how great Buddha was, but put the focus on “What the Buddha taught” that shapes the religion. To make it relevant, he quoted lots of the original Pah Texts of Tipitika (Pali Canon), which is one of the major extant branches recognized by scholars and translated them into English in an authentic and direct manner. This book includes the fundamental ideas of Buddhism which includes the Buddha Attitude of mind, the Four Noble Truths, Mediation and the modern world.


Since the target audience is for the well-educated and intelligent readers who are interested in Buddha’s teaching, Dr. Rahula translated all the ancient text into modern English. In order to introduce some of the Buddhism’s language, the author provided some important terms with detail explanation. For example “(I) attraction    or    enjoyment    (assada),   (2)    evil   consequence   or    danger   or   unsatisfactoriness   (adinava),   and   (3)   freedom   or   liberation  (nissarana).” The high understanding of Buddha’s teaching enabled Dr. Rahula to present the philosophies explicitly without losing the originality.


Taken in to consideration that readers may not be Buddhist, Dr. Rahula provided us some background information of Buddha. In this short introduction, it explains us the story of Buddha’s enlightenment. Buddha was born to be the privileged one and was protected from suffering, but he decided to go for a journey to look for the reality of human suffering. Other than this chapter, you can not find any other chapter focusing on Buddha, which proved that Buddhism is not a religion of worship of a god but understanding of what He taught.  

Before starting with what Buddha taught, the author mentioned about how Buddha thought, which helps readers to get prepared with the mindset and mood to read the following

chapters. One of the highlights is “freedom of thought”, which means that we should not depend on other externalities to learn but depending on ourselves to realize of the Truth. The author made several examples to show the humbleness of Buddha who is “the only teacher who did not claim to be other than a human being, pure and simple.” This non-atheistic quality is very different from the western religions as Buddha was not discussing any metaphysical questions about before life and after death. He rather focused on “now”, the experience of ourselves.  Therefore, he stating that “doubt” (vicilkiccba) is one of the five Hindrances  (nivarana) to enlightenment because in Buddha’s teaching “truth” should come from observation and experience but not “belief”. This argument is well explained by the story of blind Brahmin leading the blind. For those who base on his/her belief to look at the truth is just like the follower of Brahmin and he will never understand the reality. I think Buddha did not intend to attack other religions, but he would like to bring out that “Truth” should be irrelevant to any kind of belief or religion, just like Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths          

Four Noble Truths is the fundamental concept in Buddhism and each of the Noble Truth is covered by a chapter with original references and explanations. By reading through the chapters, we will gain the knowledge of traditional Buddha’s teaching.

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The First Noble Truth: Dukkha

Dukkha is generally translated as suffering but it has the meaning far more than that. It contains a deeper meaning of impermanence, imperfection, emptiness and insubstantiality. From the translation, we may have a view that Buddhism is way too pessimistic but we have to admit that those are something real in our lives and can not be avoided. Buddha did mention the part of happiness in our lives as well. Indeed, Dukkha includes different types of happiness as this state of emotion or condition is not impermanent. When the object or the person that make you happy changes, it makes you suffering and pain. Yet, if you are free from the attachment of all those object or people, you will not be suffering due to the disappoint and loss. Therefore, only people who are free from attachment can avoid suffering but also pleasure in life.

Simply look at the translation of Dukkha may lead us bias towards pessimism, but it actually has neutral stance as all is about reality. There are no thinkersa behind the thoughte nor the feelersd behind the feeling. We should have our ownd way of livinge and philosophy. Dr. Rahula made a clear point that life is a moving process and full of suffering.  It is important to note that you can never prevent from suffering but you can accept and live with it. The aversion of suffering is a foolish act which leads to more suffering.

The Second Noble Truth: Samudaya, The Arising of Dukkha

The arising of Dukkha can be interpreted as the cause of suffering. The first origin of suffering is unknown as “everything is relative and interdependent”, but the most palpable and immediate source that give rise to all kind of suffering is thirst (tanha). Three types of thirst are being explained as follow:

  1. Thirst for sense-pleasures (kama-tanha) leads people become satisfied with the sensory pleasure and start to crave for it.  
  2. Thirst for to existing and becoming (bhava-tanha) leads people being ambitious to be someone with power, fame and wealth.  
  3. Thirst for non-existence (vibhava-tanha) leads people hoping to avoid from any pain and suffering.

It is not difficult to understand the source of evil, but how the source can exist and continue is being explained by the four Nutriments (ahara). They are food, contact of six organs



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