insight by The Practicing Dhamma expounder for today

Learning Dhamma in a small way

Gautama Buddha's Teachings in a Nutshell


If a first timer to Buddhism (Buddha Dhamma) asks to put forward the Buddha's teachings in just a few words how can one respond to that. Well, this is one way to present it.

Gautama Buddha said that every one of us face unsatisfactoriness or suffering due to birth, illness, old age and death etc. He showed how one can end the sufferings in this life itself and to live with a blissful status of mind with his teachings.

A salient point in Gautama Buddha's teachings to overcome 'unsatisfactoryness' or 'suffering' or 'Dukkha' is getting rid of 'attachment' or 'Tanha' which is one of the Twelve links for the cause of suffering or unsatisfactoryness.

How did the Buddha advise to realize that task of getting rid of attachment or Tanha?

Gautama Buddha's Teachings are based on the 'Doctrine of Analysis' -(vibhajjavada) or analyzing the causes for rebirth and suffering on human beings, that's us. Gautama Buddha's most important Analysis of our lives is that we are bound by the Law of Cause and Effects which he described in great details.His analysis on our Body and Mind is described in volumes of Sutta discourses. Lord Buddha analyzed our body and mind's actions subtly and explained to his disciples to enable understanding the notion of 'I' or 'Me' which was unable to fathom by any other men or gods.

Buddha said the reason for all sorts of Sufferings or unsatisfactoryness is due to Law of Cause and Effects or 'Paticca-samuppada'. An important link in Law of Cause and Effects is 'attachment' or 'Tanha' which is a contributing factor and one of the twelve links of the Paticcasamuppada'.

We are all bound by the Law of Cause & Effects which is the cause for Suffering.

To overcome it Lord Buddha uses the method of Analyzing or the 'Vibhajanaya' to transform the ability of the human mind to higher levels. Buddha's methodology was called as the 'vibhajjavada'. Disciples who had attained the required levels of higher mental status were able to attain the stage of enlightenment the Buddha disclosed to acquire and became Arhaths.


Much of Buddha's discourses or doctrine are about the ways and means of how to achieve that above 'simple looking' ' but the 'most difficult task' , a human can ever be engaged in, that is of getting rid of Law of Cause and Effect cycle permanently. Breaking away of any link in Cause and Effect Law enables one to get free from the remaining links thus being able to attend the 'arhatship' or the status of 'nibbana'.

For example one of the important [ shall we say because it is one of the most understandable or graspable of the twelve part links] is Tanha or attachment. Buddha gave special attention on this link as can be learnt from many of his discourses.The reason may be that it is a mental status that many people would be able to understand and would be able to eliminate with the methods the Buddha has revealed in his discourses.Yet one may wonder that the meaning of attachment is very easily understood, but nothing would be far apart from it. The taints of 'attachment' are numerous as Gautama Buddha has disclosed. The common meaning we get today for the word 'attachment' must be explained in hundreds of different ways to get to know what the Buddha has meant of it.

The 'Method of Analyzing' was prescribed by the Buddha to look into things we take as a unit item or thing (or a complete thing), either living being or a thing. Sometimes the attachment one has on a constructed thing (A luxury house, a new car, a hi tech camera, tab or a notebook.. this list will be never ending..) may diminish once we take off the 'mask' which hides the internal mechanism or the ' pretty covering' shall we say. For instant if we dismantle any of the non living thing's which were mentioned in our list, in to basic parts, then the attachment we had for the 'thing' (finished product ) would not be there for the same heap of parts that consisted of the finished product.

If we think of living being, either humans or the animal world it will be the same. If we are fascinated seeing beautiful birds or fish or wild life, it is for the whole outer body with the body movement or characters that we get attached. We do not get attached to a separated bodily part. Such a thing is just a idle one being separated from the biological mechanism. The point being stressed here is our attachment or lust or liking or love or desire or whatever similar appearing in various names, all targets for a 'mechanism' that is the big picture, but not the components that contributes to make the big picture. All this is our inerrant nature. That is the natures work. The only problem is this 'mechanism' is vulnerable to failure and fail it does! Now comes the big problem of facing to the reality.

Basically we like things that resembles a complete (working) thing. But to make a complete thing you need all sorts of lesser things. This is the very truth the Gautama Buddha wanted us to understand. What ever thing which is structured, will undergo changes with time. Nothing is immune from this 'syndrome'. The brand new car of today will be an old one in few years time. The hi-tech gadget you bought today will be outdated with few months. The pretty teenager would be a elderly person in few years. The young and healthy guy would be no more that way perhaps in twenty five years time. So this truth we need to accept and condition our mind to be free from sorrow and lamentation when we face the problem in real time. This process cannot be successfully implemented unless you develop your mind and its activities to cognize it. Gautama Buddha's teachings will help to have that 'Insight'. Buddha said 'Ehipassiko'- That is come and see. It is not a belief. With your own mind and free will, you analyze and come to a conclusion. This is how Buddha encouraged everyone to be their own master by asking to analyses the Buddha's teachings and to accept if they can agree upon. People of all walks of life became his disciples by understanding his teachings.

Explained above was a simplest form of attachments but attachments such as Kama Tanha, Bhava Tanha and Vibhava Tanha need more in depth explanations.

Like today's scientists scrutinize the atom in to smaller and smaller particles to understand it's nature, Gautama Buddha scrutinized the Human being in to finer bodily and mental factors that helped one to realize the Ti-lakkhana ( Three marks of existence) or the Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha(suffering or unsatisfactory ness) and Anatta (non self).

Gautama Buddha expounded about the 'Four Noble Truths' or ' Chatur Arya Satya' which he realized by becoming 'The Enlightened One or the Buddha'. These Truths are universal and they were in the past, are at present and will be in future. They are the Universal Truths and only a Buddha that has an intelligence unsurpassed can self realize, discover and teach others to understand it. These Four Noble Truths discovered by a Buddha had been beneficial and helped an untold number of his disciples to attend the status of Nibbana or free from the rebirth. All other lesser beings inclusive of celestial beings has to undergo rebirth until they attend the status of Nibbana one day. Alas Nibbana can be attended only through the path disclosed by the Lord Buddha and no other way.

The path leading to Nibbana is through the 'Arya Atthangika-magga' (Arya Ashtangika Marga) or the 'Noble Eightfold Path' which helps one to completely eliminate 'Tanha' or attachment of any form.

It happened then and it can happen now also.These Universal Truths are valid to the past, present and the future. Buddha's teachings are so wonderful , that to the inquisitive mind, it is happiness galore because one is learning, understanding and practicing the highest beneficial deeds and actions found only during a 'Buddha's era' , or the time the Buddha's teachings are still tangible to the Humans. Only a Buddha has the ability to show the mankind the 'Praneetha Dhatu' or the ' utmost beneficial mental factors', which the followers of Buddha's teachings can pursue to acquire through methods shown by the Buddha.

We can identify the prominent points Buddha has taught to his disciples in his discourses or 'Sutta'. Though it may never have been heard before, one needs to understand these points to get a grasp at Buddha's doctrine or the teachings.

Gautama Buddha said one needs to understand the 'world' to become free from 'suffering' or unsatisfactory things in life.

The 'world' or 'Lokaya' the Buddha meant was nothing else but what is with in your body or 'yourself '. Gautama Buddha explained that the so called 'world' is within yourself. (In present day, if some one is to hear the word 'world', then what comes to his mind is a huge globe with all the continents and the sea surrounding them and the countries that makes up the continents etc. rotating and moving around the sun in the solar system. But 2600 years back there was no such recognition and the 'world' or 'lokaya' that Buddha used to describe was the 'world' that is with in reach of each of us.). These are new concepts to us and we need to know the meanings of them for a proper understanding of the Buddha's teachings.

To facilitate that , the some salient Dhamma points need to be learned.

First we will outline the important points and try to link them with simple explanations as and when possible. We need to bear in mind that these Buddha's 'Sutta' or discourses are in Pali language and one needs to translate those key words into English using appropriate words to get the nearest meaning. This is not always possible, so a methodology of having the English words as well as the Pali words would be helpful to the learner. For ease of identification, Pali words within a yellow background and English words in a blue background is appearing in the following paragraphs.

Some of the important teachings of Gautama Buddha is as follows.



NamaRupa or Mind and Matter

( The traditional explaination found in translations of Pali Scripts)

 Nama Rupa or Mind and Matter
gets sub divided in to    
Nama or Mind
Rupa or Matter
Nama or Mind
gets sub divided in to    
Vedana or Feeling
Sanna or Perception
Cetana or Intention
Passa or Contact
Manasikara or Attention
Rupa  or  Matter
gets sub divided in to    
Patavi Dhatu or Earthy element
Apo Dhatu or Watery element
Thejo Dhatu or Firey element
Vayo Dhatu or  Airy element



Salayatana or Six Sense Bases


Salayatana or Six Sense Bases
gets sub divided into    
Abyantara Ayatana or Inner Sense Bases
Bahira Ayathana or Outer Sense Bases
Abyantara Ayatana or Inner Sense Bases
gets sub divided into    
Chakku Ayatana or Eye Sense Base
Sota Ayatana or Ear Sense Base
Ghana Ayatana or Nose Sense Base
Jivha Ayatana or Tongue Sense Base
Kaya Ayatana or Body Sense Base
Mano Ayatana or Mind Sense Base
Bahira Ayatana or Outer Sense Bases
gets sub divided into    
Rupa Ayatana or Form Sense Base
Sabda Ayatana or Sound Sense Base
Ghanda Ayatana or Smell Sense Base
Rasa Ayatana or  Taste Sense Base
Pottabba Ayatana or  Touch Sense Base
Dhamma Ayatana or  Thought Sense Base



Panchakhandha or Five Aggregates


Pancha Skandha or Five Aggregates
gets sub divided into    
Rupa skandha or Form Aggregates
Vedana skandha or Feeling Aggregates
Sanna skandha or Perception Aggregates
Sankara skandha or Mental formation Aggregates              
Vinnana skandha or Consciousness Aggregates              



Pancha Upadanakhandha or Five Clinging Aggregates


Pancha Upadanskandha or Five Clinging Aggregates
gets sub divided into    
Rupa Upadanaskandha or Form Clinging Aggregates
Vedana Upadanaskandha or Feeling Clinging Aggregates
Sanna Upadanaskandha or Perception Clinging Aggregates
Sankara Upadanskandha or Mental formation Clinging Aggregates
Vinnana Upadanaskandha or Consciousness Clinging Aggregates



Dhatu or Elements under Causal effect Linked


Dhatu or Elements under causal effect      
gets sub divided in to          
Chakku Dhatu   Eye element      
Sota Dhatu   Ear element      
Ghana Dhatu   Nose element      
Jivha Dhatu   Tongue element      
Kaya Dhatu   Body element      
Mano Dhatu   Mind element      
Rupa Dhatu   Formelement      
Sabda Dhatu   Sound element      
Gandha Dhatu   Smell element      
Rasa Dhatu   Taste element      
Pottabba Dhatu   Touch element      
Dhamma Dhatu   Thought element      
Chakku Vinnana Dhatu   Eye consciousness element      
Sota Vinnana Dhatu   Ear consciousness element      
Ghana Vinnana Dhatu   Nose consciousness element      
Jivha Vinnana Dhatu   Tongue consciousness element      
Kaya Vinnana Dhatu   Body consciousness element      
Mano Vinnana Dhatu   Mind consciousness element      
Patavi Dhatu   Earthy element      
Apo Dhatu   Watery element      
Thejo Dhatu   Fiery element      
Vayo Dhatu   Airy element      
Akasa Dhatu   Space element      
Vinnana Dhatu   Consciousness element      
Sukha Dhatu   Bodily pleasantness element      
Dukka Dhatu   Bodily unpleasantness element      
Somanassa Dhatu   Mind pleasantness element      
Domanassa Dhatu   Mind unpleasantness element      
Upekka Dhatu   Equanimity element      
Avijja Dhatu   Ignoranceness element      
Kama Dhatu   Sensuality element      
Nekkhamma Dhatu   Non-Sensuality element      
Vyapada Dhatu   Aggrasiveness element      
Avyapada Dhatu   Non aggresiveness element      
Vihinsa Dhatu   Hurtfulness element      
Avihinsa Dhatu   Non heartfulness element      
Kama Dhatu   Sensuality element      
Rupa Dhatu   Materiality element      
Arupa Dhatu   Immateriality element      
Sankhata Dhatu   Sankhata element (index-A)      
Asankhata Dhatu   Asankhata element (index-B)      


Can discern that there is an evolving nature. Also there is a dissolving nature. During the period that of evolving and dissolving, a continuous change takes place.



Doesn't belong to an evolving nature. There is also no dissolving nature. Throughout the time there is no change in state (permanent nature).


‚ Law of Cause and Effects or 'Paticca-samuppada'

Ten Wholesome Deeds and Ten Unwholesome Deeds or 'Dasa Kusala and Dasa Akusala'

To be continued...


‚ Worldly Right Views or 'Laukika Samma Ditti'