Are you drawn towards Buddhism and would like to delve into the basics? Buddhism is divided into a number of different traditions. However, as with most great religions, these share a common set of fundamental beliefs.

A core belief in Buddhism is reincarnation, the idea that people are reborn after dying and we are in a cycle of birth, living, death and rebirth. There are differences in rebirth and reincarnation; In reincarnation a person is reborn over and over. In rebirth, a person does not have to return as the same entity again. After many of these cycles, when a person has released their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.

Below are the other main concepts of buddhism and its teachings.

The Essential Basics Of Buddhism


The Three Trainings or Practices

  • Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles:
    1. The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal.
    2.  The principle of reciprocity:
  • Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one’s mind is the path to wisdom which in turn leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct.
  • Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.

Four Noble Truths

  • Suffering exists
  • Suffering arises from attachment to desires
  • Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
  • Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

Noble Eightfold Path

 Three Qualities  Eightfold Path

Wisdom (panna)

 Right View
 Right Thought

Morality (sila)

 Right Speech
 Right Action
 Right Livelihood

 Meditation (samadhi)

 Right Effort
 Right Mindfulness
 Right Contemplation

Three Characteristics of Existence

  • Transiency (anicca)
  • Sorrow (dukkha)
  • Selflessness (anatta)


  • Sensuous lust
  • Ill will & Intentions
  • Sloth / Laziness
  • Restlessness and worry
  • Sceptical doubt

What Makes Up Enlightenment?

  • Mindfulness
  • Investigation
  • Energy
  • Rapture
  • Tranquillity
  • Concentration
  • Equanimity

The Five Precepts:

These are similar to the Ten Commandments in Judaism and Christianity, that describe behaviors to avoid. However, the core difference here is that they are recommendations on how to achieve ones best self and not commandments. One is expected to use their own judgement when applying the following.

  1. Do not kill – Sometimes translated as “not harming” or no violence.
  2. Do not steal – the avoidance of fraud and economic exploitation.
  3. Do not lie – can also include name calling and gossiping etc.
  4. Do not misuse sex – For monks and nuns, this means any departure from complete celibacy. For everyone else, adultery is forbidden, along with any sexual harassment or exploitation, including that within marriage.
  5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs – Intoxicants cloud the mind. Some traditions also include methods of divorcing ourselves from reality — e.g. movies, television and the Internet.

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