Bare-bones Buddhism

Bare-bones Buddhism March 26, 2009

These are my notes for a short introduction to Buddhism/Buddhist meditation given to a class on campus today (man, I love teaching, but more on that later). Perhaps they will be of some use to you or you might have suggestions for changes:


Basics of Buddhism / Buddhist Ethics / Buddhist Meditation

1 – the worldview – just to get you inside the mind a bit of the Buddha or his followers

a. Samsara – cycle of rebirth / redeath

b. Dukkha – unsatisfactoriness of life, nothing we can really hang on to…

c. Moksha – release, some sort of transcendence of it all….

2 – Buddha’s response

a. Turn inward – a break away from priestly hierarchy, away from caste structure, away from reliance on others.

b. Affirmed Samsara and Dukkha and Changed Moksha to Nirvana (extinguishing)

a. Fires of Greed

b. Aversion

c. Delusion

Formulated a 3-fold Path for extinguishing the 3 poisons or root-afflictions

1 – Ethics

2 – Meditation

3 – Wisdom

Ethics is the foundation: one undertakes to live a life free of harming others (ahimsa), of taking the not given, sexual misconduct, false or harsh speech, and intoxication.

Undertaking these, one suffuses his/her life with calm and tranquility, setting the stage for:

Meditation. Here one uses various techniques to calm the mind, to bring it to balance. The most common of these techniques is mindfulness of breathing, which we will do. Another major one is the metta / loving friendliness practice. That one brings daily life – ethics – into the meditation front and center.

Finally, this leads to

Wisdom. This is where one gets into the philosophy of Buddhism, the teaching that all is impermanent, all is lacking a substantial self, and all – in our experience – is subject to suffering or unsatisfactoriness.

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