The Buddha on Enlightenment

Modern religions, though often ancient in their origins, maintain a committed view of truth, handed down by prophets and priests, whose precepts were to be obeyed by believers.

Siddhartha Gautama or The Buddha (the ‘enlightened one’), is believed to have lived in what are modern-day Nepal and India between 563 BCE and 483 BCE. His teachings were handed down by oral tradition and committed to writing some centuries after his death. The Buddhist religion has about 350 million followers today. Here, are some of the key principles of Buddhism:

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery.

         There he addressed the monks, saying, ‘Monks’.

         ‘Yes, lord’, the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, ‘I will teach & analyze for you the Noble Eightfold Path. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak’.

         ‘As you say, lord’, the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, ‘Now what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

‘And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the stopping of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the stopping of stress: This, monks, is called right view.

‘And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.

‘And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, abstaining from divisive speech, abstaining from abusive speech, abstaining from idle chatter: This, monks, is called right speech.

‘And what, monks, is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity: This, monks, is called right action.

‘And what, monks, is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This, monks, is called right livelihood.

‘And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil … (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil … (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skilful qualities … (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, and culmination of skilful qualities … This, monks, is called right effort.

‘And what, monks, is right mindfulness? (i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (ii) He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (iii) He remains focused on the mind in and of itself—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves—ardent, aware, and mindful—putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

‘And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk—quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskilful (mental) qualities—enters and remains in the first jhana [a mediative state of mind]: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. (ii) With the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance. (iii) With the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful and alert, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters and remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, “Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding”. (iv) With the abandoning of pleasure and pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress—he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration.’

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words.


Buddhist Pali Canon. N.D. ‘Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path.’ in Samyutta Nikaya. || Amazon || WorldCat


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