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Introduction to Buddhism with Lama Zangmo


Teacher: Lama Gelongma Zangmo


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This day of teachings will give beginners an understanding of the fundamentals and framework for the Buddhist path, covering themes including the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths

This was the very first teaching that the Buddha gave after he attained enlightenment. It is also referred to as the 'First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma' because it represents the first phase of the Buddha's teaching. It is called a 'wheel' because it is a means for travelling the path to enlightenment in much the same way that a wheel enables a vehicle to move along a road.

The Four Noble Truths are:

Suffering exists. This truth means that everything that exists is unstable and in a state of continual change. Nothing is truly satisfactory because nothing lasts. There are three aspects to this truth:

The actual experience of suffering, such as feeling pain and discomfort.

The suffering that comes from change and impermanence, such as not getting what one wants or losing what one cherishes.

The suffering that comes with being alive and embodied. It is the suffering of being limited and conditioned and can manifest in the feelings of loneliness and alienation.

Suffering has a cause. This truth explains that the underlying cause of suffering is an attachment to a sense of 'me' - to the perception that we are an individual separate from everything else. This belief causes us to feel powerful desire, aversion and confusion. As a consequence, we grasp onto things and become identified with them but because everything is impermanent and ever-changing, we inevitably suffer loss. Or, we feel strong aversion towards something and try to push it away but because everything is impermanent and ever-changing, at some point we are forced to confront what we dislike and this causes us suffering. This cycle of suffering and being bound to our patterns of attachment and aversion is called samsara or the "cycle of conditioned existence". Moment by moment and lifetime after lifetime, we perpetuate these patterns of grasping and aversion, always fiercely attached to who we think we are and in so doing, we repeatedly experience dissatisfaction and sorrow.

Suffering can end. This is the 'truth of nirvana'. Nirvana is described by Sariputra, one of the Buddha's main disciples: it is "the extinction of desire, the extinction of hatred and the extinction of illusion." It is a state of profound peace unsullied by mental activity and attachment to a self.

There is a path to the ending of suffering. This is the truth of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path is the essence of the Middle Way, the path between the extremes of self indulgence and denial. It contains eight interrelated aspects that make up the 'skillful living' that the Buddha taught is necessary to uproot suffering and its causes, and thus to sever the cycle of conditioned existence.

The Noble Eightfold Path comprises the three essentials of Buddhist training: ethical conduct, mental development and wisdom. (Please note that 'right' in this instance means 'skillful and wise'.)

There are three components of ethical conduct:

1. Right Speech
2. Right Action
3. Right Livelihood

There are three components of mental development:

4. Right Effort
5. Right Mindfulness
6. Right Concentration

And finally, for a total of eight, there are two components of wisdom:

7. Right View
8. Right Intention

Suitable for anyone wishing to gain more familiarity with the Buddhist teachings.

Course donations

Since January 2015 all our Dharma and meditation courses have been offered without a suggested course fee. 

In the Buddhist tradition one practices generosity, or Dana, by making monetary offerings for the teachings. This generosity is not payment for goods or services rendered; it is an offering given freely from the heart in appreciation of the Dharma. 

Please read Lama Zangmo's letter for further information.