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The First Two Sermons 2

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Description of the five aggregates and the foundational doctrine of Buddhism.


The Voice of Dissent

Part 4

II. The First Two Sermons (part 2)

A. The First Sermon

B. The Second Sermon

1. The Three Characteristics


2. The Five Aggregates

a. RUPA - Material form (body)

b. VEDANĂ - Sensations of body (feelings)

c. SAMJNA - perceptions

d. SAMSKARA - mental life (attitudes / dispositions)

e. VIJNĂNA – consciousness (awareness)

3. One Foundational Doctrine: Pratītya-samutpāda

The Buddha’s theory of causality: The term refers to a chain of dependent causalities used to describe the process by which something is given apparent existence. All existence is causally conditioned and there is no first cause. The doctrine is often illustrated with twelve links called nidānas.

when this is, that is

this arising, that arises

when this is not, that is not

this ceases, that ceases

Samyutta-nikāya II, 28

C. How Classical Buddhism is Distinctive from Hinduism

1. Hinduism seeks Moksa as the final end.

Buddhism refuses moksa out of compassion for others.

2. Hinduism has a non-ethical base.

Buddhism is ethical and compassionate (at a certain level).

3. Hinduism affirms ultimate reality in atman and Brahman.

Buddhism denies any ultimate reality, including atman or Brahman.

4. Hinduism (in part) affirms self-mortification and extreme asceticism.

Buddhism portrays itself as a “middle way” between the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial.

5. Hinduism (in its classical form) embraces the superior role and knowledge of the Brahmin caste in mediating the terms of liberation.

Buddhism is, at its root, an anti-Brahminical dissent movement, challenging the stranglehold of the Brahmin caste on the terms of liberation.

6. Hinduism accepts many paths or margas to liberation from samsara.

Buddhism develops a specific 8-fold “path” or “prescription” to follow if one is to achieve enlightenment.

Terms to Know from this Lecture:

Buddhist Wheel of Life

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