Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short by Damien Keown

By Damien Keown

This Very brief advent introduces the reader to the lessons of the Buddha and to the mixing of Buddhism into lifestyle. What are the particular positive factors of Buddhism? Who used to be the Buddha, and what are his teachings? How has Buddhist idea built over the centuries, and the way can modern dilemmas be confronted from a Buddhist viewpoint? phrases resembling karma and nirvana have entered our vocabulary, yet what do they suggest? Damien Keown's booklet offers a full of life, informative reaction to those commonly asked questions about Buddhism

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Additional resources for Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Sample text

Granted that wisdom is the essential counterpart of virtue, what is it that one must know to become enlightened? The truth that must be known is essentially that perceived by the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment and subsequently set forth in his first sermon delivered in the deer park near Benares. This sermon makes reference to four interlinked propositions known as the Four Noble Truths. These assert that (1) life is suffering, (2) suffering is caused by craving, (3) suffering can have an end, and (4) there is a path which leads to the end of suffering.

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word karma is ‘action’, but karma as a religious concept is concerned not with just any actions but with actions of a particular kind. Karmic actions are moral actions, and the Buddha defined karma by reference to moral choices and the acts consequent upon them. He stated ‘It is choice (cetana¯), O monks, that I call karma; having chosen one acts through in that they have both transitive and intransitive effects. The transitive effect is seen in the direct impact moral actions have on others; for example, when we kill or steal, someone is deprived of his life or property.

Realizing through his psychic powers that his two former teachers had died, the Buddha set out for Benares on the Ganges where he knew he would find a group of five former associates who had earlier turned their back on him when he rejected the path of austerities. First Sermon and Teaching Career Arriving in a park set aside for royal deer near Benares the Buddha was, after some initial hesitation, welcomed by his former colleagues who quickly realized the transformation which had taken place in him.

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