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Buddha at Badulla, Sri Lanka

Buddha – Badulla, Sri Lanka

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The core of Buddhism is that there is misery for all sentient beings, and that this has a cause, a solution and can be ended utterly. These are the Four Noble Truths. The fourth Truth is that there is a path out of suffering: the Noble Eightfold path.

 The Four Noble Truths1

 1.  The noble truth about suffering
 2.  The noble truth about the cause of suffering
 3.  The noble truth about the end of suffering
 4.  The noble truth about the path that frees us from suffer

Digha Nikaya, Sutta 16

 The Noble Eightfold Path2

 1.  Right View
 2.  Right Intention
 3.  Right Speech
 4.  Right Action
 5.  Right Livelihood
 6.  Right Effort
 7.  Right Mindfulness
 8.  Right Concentration

By understanding these truths and following this path, one can reach liberation from sorrow and rebirth. This part of Buddhism is known as Theravada Buddhism – the original path. It is also called ‘the smaller vehicle’ (Hīnayāna).

For those who wish – in order to help all living beings which are still entangled in illusion and problems – to stay within the cycle of rebirths even when they have earned the stage of nirvāṇa there is the path called Mahāyāna or ‘the greater vehicle.’

They follow the Path of perfections, or pāramitās.3 This leads one to become a bodhisattva, i.e. someone whose very nature is wisdom, enlightenment en compassion, and prepared to stay on earth or go and return whenever a difficult compassionate task has to be fulfilled for the progress and well-being of humankind and other living beings. This leads to relieve for others, but postponed relieve (nivāṇa) for oneself. This is also the Path of the Theosophist.

The Path of  Perfections4

 1. Dāna the key of charity and love immortal
 2. Śīla the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action
 3. Kṣānti patience sweet, that nought can ruffle
 4. Virāga indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived
 5. Vīrya the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial
 6. Dhyāna whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol [Naljor] toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation
 7. Prajñā the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyānis

This important Mahāyāna Buddhist teaching is pervasive in Theosophical Literature. Important Theosophical explanatory works on the Perfections are:

The Path of Compassion                                                         The Voice of the Silence

(Fragment III: The Seven Portals)



The Four Noble Truths

Commentary on The Four Noble Truths

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Seven Portals

  1. See also the article: The Four Noble Truths []
  2. See also the article: The Noble Eightfold Path []
  3. As given by H.P. Blavatsky in The Voice of the Silence.  In most enumerations in Buddhist literature only 6 pāramitās  Blavatsky inserted Virāga, thus making seven pāramitās, which in the Fragment III , ‘The Seven Portals’ in The Voice are the seven doorways of initiation.  On other places in Buddhist literature a higher number of pāramitās (usually ten) is mentioned. See: Ten Perfections according to the Buddhavaṃsa. []
  4. See also: The Seven Portals []