What is Buddhism

The Fundamentals in Practice
Peter Della Santina >>>

Buddhism In Practice
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The Meaning of the Buddha's Awakening
Thanissaro Bhikkhu >>>


The Buddha's teaching is called the Dhamma (Dharma). Dhamma comes from the Pali root dar, which means to support, to sustain,to hold up.In the most basic sense, Dhamma is the true nature of things—the fundamental element of lawfulness operating in the universe, structuring all events, all experience and all phenomena.

Dhamma also means the fundamental principle of righteousness,
the cosmic law of virtue and goodness.

Dhamma also has a practical sense, something applicable to our
own life. Dhamma is that which sustains us, which supports us, or which upholds our own effort to live in virtue and goodness. In this sense Dhamma is the path. It is both the lower path of virtue and the supramundane path, the higher path that leads to realization of the true nature of things, that brings
the attainment of truth.

The Buddha's teaching is called the Dhamma, because this teaching makes known the true nature of things, disclosing the true nature of all existence.

The Buddha's Dhamma
Bhikkhu Bodhi

Qualities of the Dhamma
Bhikkhu Bodhi – from the Ashoka course The Buddha's Teaching As It Is


Three Jewels

The central focus of inspiration and devotion for Buddhists is the Triple Gem (also known as the Three Treasures, the Three Refuges,and the Three Jewels):

Buddha (Enlightened One or Awakened
One) — Shakyamuni Buddha.

Dharma (or Dhamma) — the Buddha's teachings. Dharmra as well refers to the eternal Truth which the teachings convey to us. Dharma is threefold:

the Dharma we study, the Dharma we practice, and the Dharma of realization.

Sangha — 'community' or 'assembly.'
In Buddhism sangha is both the community of disciples (whether ordained or not) who have gained realization of any of the stages of awakening as well as the community of ordained disciples, bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). Today sangha is also used to refer to a broader community of practioners and students.

Taking refuge in the Triple Gem represents confirmation of one's belief in Buddhist principles and one's dedication to Buddhist practice.

The Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem

The Triple Gem

Buddha Dhamma Sangha
Ven. Ajahn Sumedho

What Is The Triple Gem
Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro

Refuge in the Buddha
Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Practice of Sangha
Thich Nhat Hanh explains that sangha is more than a community, it’s a deep
spiritual practice.

Three marks


The Buddha said that there are three marks of existence—characteristics that are always present in existence and that can help us understand what to do with existence.

The three characteristics of existence (Dharma Seals) are:

  • Impermanence (Anicca)
  • Suffering (Dukkha)
  • Not-self (Anatta)

These three characteristics are always present in or connected with existence, and they tell us about the nature of existence. They help us know what to do with existence. Once we understand that existence is universally characterized by impermanence, suffering, and not-self, we eliminate our attachment to existence. And once we eliminate our attachment to existence, we gain the threshold of nirvana.

Understanding the three marks removes attachment by removing delusion—the misunderstanding that existence is permanent, pleasant, and has something to do with the self. This is why understanding the three characteristics is part of the development of wisdom.

Three Marks of Existence

The Three Universal Characteristics
Dr. Peter Della Santina

Three Universal Characteristics
Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

The Practice of Looking Deeply Using Three Dharma Seals: Impermanence, No-self and Nirvana
Thich Nhat Hanh

Tri Lakshana: The Three Characteristics of Existence
Amarasiri Weeraratne


No-self or Not-self?
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Not-Self Strategy
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Meditating on No-Self
Sister Khema

Anitya Anicca
by Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma

Anatta (Non-Self)
Ajahn Brahmavamso

The Ending of Things A Discourse On "Non-Self"
Ajahn Brahmavamso

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

Whatis the Use of the Knowledge of Impermanence?
H. Gunaratana Mahathera

The Four Noble Truths


With the Four Noble Truths we enter the real heart of the teaching of the Buddha. The Four Noble Truths are one of the most fundamental of the schemes delineated by the Buddha. In many important particulars, they virtually coincide with the whole of the doctrine of Shakyamuni. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths is synonymous with the attainment of the goal of Buddhist practice. The Buddha himself indicated as much when he said that it is failure to comprehend the Four Noble Truths that has caused us to run on so long in the cycle of birth and death. The Buddha's first discourse was on the Four Noble Truths and the Middle Way.

  • The first truth says that existence is characterized by suffering (duhkha) and does not bring satisfaction.
  • The second truth gives as the cause of suffering craving or desire for sensual pleasures, for becoming and passing away. It is this craving that binds beings to the cycle of existence (samsara).
  • The third truth says that through elimination of craving, suffering can be brought to an end.
  • The fourth truth gives the Eightfold Path as the means for ending suffering.

In the formula of the Four Noble Truths we have a summary of the teaching of the Buddha in theory and in practice.

The Four Noble Truths
Ajahn Chah

The Four Noble Truths
Ajahn Sumedho

The Nobility of the Truths
Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Four Noble Truths
Peter Della Santina

Excerpts from the teachings of the Buddha on the Four Noble Truths

Suffering Zen and The Four Noble Truths
Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya

The Four Noble Truths
H.H. The Dalai Lama

The Four Noble Truths
Thrangu Rinpoche

The Four Noble Truths
Gil Frosndal, four talks

Eightfold path

The essence of the Buddha's teaching can be summed up in two principles: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Fourth Noble Truth—the truth of the way, the way to the end of Dukkha—is the Noble Eightfold Path, the path made up of the following eight factors divided into three larger groups:


1. right view
2. right intention

moral discipline

3. right speech
4. right action
5. right livelihood


6. right effort
7. right mindfulness
8. right concentration

We say that the path is the most important element in the Buddha's teaching because the path is what makes the Dhamma available to us as a living experience. Without the path the Dhamma would just be a shell, collection of doctrines without inner life. Without the path full deliverance from suffering would become a mere dream.

The question is whether you want to liberate yourself. If you do, practice the Noble Eightfold Path. Wherever the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced, joy, peace and insight are there.


The Eightfold Path
Damien Keown

The Noble Eightfold Path The Way to the End of Suffering
Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Noble Eightfold Path
Ajahn Jagaro

Backs to Basics Chan and The Eightfold Path
Rev. Chuan Zhi Shakya

Eightfold Path for the Householder – Ten talks
Jack Kornfield


Here a bhikkhu (monk), gone to the forest or to the root of a treeor to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him. . .


Meditation: Why Bother
Bhante Gunaratana

Buddhist Traditions of Meditation
John Snelling

Basic Breath Meditation Instructions
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The How and the Why
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Mindfulness With Breathing: Getting Started
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Meditation in the Tibetan Tradition
The Dalai Lama

Introduction to Zen Meditation
John Daishin Buksbazen

For much more, see the Meditation section of the DharmaNet Learning Center.

Dependent arising

Whoever sees Dependent Origination sees the Dhamma; whoever sees the Dhamma sees Dependent Origination.


Common to all schools of Buddhism, dependent origination ("dependent arising," "conditioned genesis," "dependent co-arising," "interdependent arising," etc.) shows how phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect.

The Buddha awakened to the truth of dependent origination, the understanding that any phenomenon ‘exists’ only because of the ‘existence’ of other phenomena in an incredibly complex web of cause and effect covering time past, time present and time future.

Wise human beings, who ‘see things as they are’, renounce attachment and clinging, transform the energy of desire into awareness and understanding, and eventually transcend the conditioned realm of form becoming.

Interdependent Origination
Peter Della Santina

Dependent Arising
Bhikkhu Bodhi - from the Ashoka course The Buddha's Teaching
As It Is

Dependent Origination
Christina Feldman

Dependent Origination
Zen Master Seung Sahn

The Three Poisons


The Three Poisons, the negative mental attitudes or delusional emotions of anger, attachment and ignorance, underly all negative emotions. Ignorance– lack of wisdom or insight into the actual way that things exist–is said to be the basis of all negative emotions.

The Three Poisons: Desire, Hatred, Ignorance

Transforming the Three Poisons: Greed, Hatred, and Delusion

Working with Delusional Emotions

The Three Poisons and the Three Jewels: An Outline of the Buddhist Schools
Peter Morrell

The Three Poisons

Karma and rebirth

Contrary to common misconception, the Buddhist
interpretation of karma does not refer to preordained fate. Karma
refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime.
Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or
actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation,
bring about happiness in the long run. Bad actions, such as lying,
stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run. The
weight that actions carry is determined by five conditions: frequent,
repetitive action; determined, intentional action; action performed
without regret; action against extraordinary persons; and action
toward those who have helped one in the past. Finally, there is also
neutral karma, whcih has no benefits or costs.

Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. There are six
separate planes into which any living being can be reborn—three
fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms. The realm of man
is considered the highest realm of rebirth as it offers one other
aspect lacking in the other five planes—an opportunity to achieve
enlightenment. Given the sheer number of living things,
to be born human is to Buddhists a precious chance at spiritual bliss,
a rarity that one should not forsake.
An introduction to karma and rebirth

An introduction to rebirth

Another basic introduction to karma and rebirth

Peter Della Santina

Buddhist Karma

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Good and Evil in Buddhism
Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto

Kamma on the Social Level
Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto

Dr. Sunthorn Plamintr

Buddhist Theory of Kamma
Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

Ethical Implications of the Buddhist Theory of Kamma
Bhikkhu Thich Nhat-Tu

Rebirth and Death
John Snelling

Peter Della Santina

Death, Intermediate State, and Rebirth
H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama