ÅÄ«la: virtuous behavior and the precepts
ÅÄ«la (Sanskrit) or sÄ«la (PÄli) is usually rendered into
English as "behavioral discipline", "morality", or ethics.
It is often translated as "precept". It is an action that is
an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices (sila,
samadhi, and panya) and the second pÄramitÄ. It refers to
moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions
of ÅÄ«la are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment,
i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the
SÄ«la refers to overall (principles of) ethical behavior.
There are several levels of sila, which correspond to 'basic
morality' (five precepts), 'basic morality with asceticism'
(eight precepts), 'novice monkhood' (ten precepts) and 'monkhood'
(Vinaya or Patimokkha). Lay people generally undertake to
live by the five precepts which are common to all Buddhist
schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the
eight precepts, which have some additional precepts of basic
are not given in the form of commands
such as "thou shalt not ...", but are training rules in
order to live a better life in which one is happy, without
worries, and can meditate well.
To refrain from taking life.
(i.e. non-violence towards
sentient life forms)
To refrain from taking that which is not given
To refrain from sensual misconduct
immoral sexual behavior)
To refrain from lying.
(i.e. speaking truth always)
To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of
(refrain from using drugs or alcohol)
, the third precept on sexual
misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of
The three additional rules of the eight precepts are:
To refrain from eating at the wrong time
(only eat from
sunrise to noon)
To refrain from dancing, using jewelery, going to shows,
To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.
Vinaya is the specific moral code for monks. It includes the
Patimokkha, a set of 227 rules in the Theravadin recension.
The precise content of the vinayapitaka (scriptures on
Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and
different schools or subschools set different standards for
the degree of adherence to Vinaya. Novice-monks use the ten
precepts, which are the basic precepts for monastics.
The Four Noble Truths
According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life
there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering,
that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation
by following the Noble Eightfold Path (Sanskrit:
gamÄrgaá¸¥ , PÄli: Ariyo Aá¹á¹haá¹
giko Maggo). This
teaching is called the CatvÄry ÄryasatyÄni (Pali: CattÄri
AriyasaccÄni), or the "Four Noble Truths".
There is suffering
There is a cause of suffering - craving
There is the cessation of suffering
There is a way leading to the cessation of suffering -
the Noble Eightfold Path
According to the scriptures, the Four Noble Truths were
among the topics of the first sermon given by the Buddha
after his enlightenment, which was given to the five
ascetics with whom he had practised austerities. The Four
Noble Truths were originally spoken by the Buddha not in the
form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the manner
of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style
that was common at that time. The early teaching and the
traditional understanding in the Theravada is that these are
an advanced teaching for those who are ready for them. The
Mahayana position is that they are a preliminary teaching
for people not ready for Mahayana teachings.
The Noble Eightfold Path
According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the
Buddha, if a person does not follow the goal of Total
Realization, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child
playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground.
The Noble Eightfold Path is the way to the cessation of
suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. This is
divided into three sections: Sila (which concerns wholesome
physical actions), Samadhi (which concerns the meditative
concentration of the mind) and PrajÃ±Ä (which concerns
spiritual insight into the true nature of all things).
Sila is morality â abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body
and speech. Within the division of sila are three parts of
the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Speech â One speaks in a non hurtful, not
exaggerated, truthful way (samyag-vÄc, sammÄ-vÄcÄ)
Right Actions â Wholesome action, avoiding action that
would do harm (samyak-karmÄnta, sammÄ-kammanta)
Right Livelihood â One's way of livelihood does not harm
in any way oneself or others; directly or indirectly (samyag-ÄjÄ«va,
Samadhi is developing mastery over oneâs own mind. Within
this division are another three parts of the Noble Eightfold
Right Effort/Exercise â One makes an effort to improve (samyag-vyÄyÄma,
Right Mindfulness/Awareness â Mental ability to see
things for what they are with clear consciousness (samyak-smá¹ti,
Right Concentration/Meditation â Being aware of the
present reality within oneself, without any craving or
aversion. (samyak-samÄdhi, sammÄ-samÄdhi)
PrajÃ±Ä is the wisdom which purifies the mind. Within this
division fall two more parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:
Right Understanding â Understanding reality as it is, not
just as it appears to be. (samyag-dá¹á¹£á¹i, sammÄ-diá¹á¹hi)
Right Thoughts â Change in the pattern of thinking. (samyak-saá¹kalpa,
The word samyak means "perfect". There are a number of ways
to interpret the Eightfold Path. On one hand, the Eightfold
Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages
through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one
leading to the beginning of another, whereas others see the
states of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development.
It is also common to categorize the Eightfold Path into
prajÃ±Ä (PÄli paÃ±Ã±Ä, wisdom), ÅÄ«la (PÄli sÄ«la, virtuous
behavior) and samÄdhi (concentration).
According to the scriptures, soon after the parinirvÄá¹a (PÄli:
parinibbÄna, "complete extinguishment") of the Buddha, the
first Buddhist council was held.
As with any ancient Indian tradition, transmission of
teaching was done orally. The primary purpose of the
assembly was to collectively recite the teaching to ensure
that no errors occur in oral transmission. In the first
council, Änanda, a cousin of the Buddha and his personal
attendant, was called upon to recite the discourses (sÅ«tras,
PÄli suttas) of the Buddha, and, according to some sources,
the abhidhamma. UpÄli, another disciple, recited the
monastic rules (Vinaya).
As the Saá¹
gha gradually grew over the next century a dispute
arose regarding ten points of discipline. A Second Buddhist
Council (said in the scriptures to have taken place 100
years after the Buddha's death) was held to resolve the
points of dispute. The result was that all the monks agreed
that those 10 practices were unallowed according to Vinaya.
Following (or leading up to) the schisms, each Saá¹
started to accumulate an Abhidharma, a collection of
philosophical texts. Early sources for these probably
existed in the time of the Buddha as simple lists. However,
as time went on and Buddhism spread further, the (perceived)
teachings of the Buddha were formalized in a more systematic
manner in a new Pitaka: the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Some modern
academics refer to it as Abhidhamma Buddhism. Interestingly,
in the opinion of some scholars, the Mahasanghika school did
not have an Abhidhamma Pitaka, which agrees with their
statement that they did not want to add to the Buddha's
teachings. But according to Chinese pilgrims Fa Xian (5th
century CE) and Yuan Chwang (Xuanzang, 7th century CE), they
had procured a copy of Abhidhamma which belonged to the
Buddhism may have spread only slowly in India until the time
of the Mauryan emperor AÅoka the Great, who was a public
supporter of the religion. The support of AÅoka and his
descendants led to the construction of more Buddhist
religious memorials (stÅ«pas) and to efforts to spread
Buddhism throughout the enlarged Maurya empire and even into
neighboring lands â particularly to the Iranian-speaking
regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia, beyond the Mauryas'
northwest border, and to the islands of Sri Lanka and the
Maldives south of India. These two missions, in opposite
directions, would ultimately lead, in the first case to the
spread of Buddhism into China, and in the second case, to
the emergence of TheravÄda Buddhism and its spread from Sri
Lanka to the coastal lands of Southeast Asia.
This period marks the first known spread of Buddhism beyond
India. According to the edicts of AÅoka, emissaries were
sent to various countries west of India in order to spread "Dhamma",
particularly in eastern provinces of the neighboring
Seleucid Empire, and even farther to Hellenistic kingdoms of
the Mediterranean. This led, a century later, to the
emergence of Greek-speaking Buddhist monarchs in the
Indo-Greek Kingdom, and to the development of the
Greco-Buddhist art of GandhÄra. During this period Buddhism
was exposed to a variety of influences, from Persian and
Greek civilization, and from changing trends in non-Buddhist
Indian religions â themselves influenced by Buddhism.
Source: Wikipedia Encyclopedia