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Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and EthicsGautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics


Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC)


Commonly called the Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One, and founder of Buddhism (pictured right in a statue in Bodh Gaya, India) .

Born the king’s son in a Nepalese tribe, he gave up his wealth and family aged 35 to teach and find peace of mind.


Why was he a great spiritual leader?

 Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

1. His Four Noble truths

These are four vital beliefs:


a) suffering

Life is difficult and sad, because of ageing, disease and finally death.


b) desire

We also suffer because we want things for ourselves.


c) selfless extinction of desire

We are wise and free when we do good to others without concern for ourselves.


d) the Eightfold Path

(see point 2).

 Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

2. The Eightfold Path

Eight points for good living to give you “nirvana” (peace of mind and freedom from pain) :


a) right knowledge and right purpose

The best people are:

  • wise.
  • concentrate intensely on one moral objective (like helping others).


b) right speech, right action and right livelihood

  • be honest, kind, impartial, fulfilled in work
  • never be deceitful, envious or violent.


c) right effort, right thinking and right meditation

Be self-disciplined and determined to be a better person through:

  • meditation.
  • knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
  • seeing things as they really are.
  • pure thoughts

 Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

3. “The Middle Way”

Happiness lies in moderation between the extremes of

  • asceticism (abstinence and self-denial), and
  • overindulgence (consuming too much).


4. Lover of wisdomGautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

Gautama Buddha always:

  • asked the right questions.
  • analysed everything.
  • critically argued about life’s problems with other people.

Peace and wisdom also comes from:


a) conscientious determination

“Work out your salvation with diligence”, he said.


Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

b) change

“Nothing lasts forever”, the Buddha said


c) connections

The relationship between things is vitally important (for example, hatred is defeated by love)


d) live for now

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”, he said.

 Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

5. “Cool head and a warm heart”

This is how one biographer described his mixture of:

  • tough-minded pursuit of wisdom
  • great kindness to the sick and needy, whatever their position in society.

Like Jesus, he advised:

  • love your neighbour as yourself.
  • reject revenge.

“Hate is not overcome by hate; by love alone is hate appeased”, he said.

He fought poverty, because he believed it was

  • unjust and immoral. Gautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics
  • caused crime.


6. Purpose and vision

He was driven by his purpose of guiding people to peace and wisdom, so that they would create an ideal world full of love for all living things including animals and nature.


7. Inspired peopleGautama Buddha - Philosophy and Ethics

He was a great teacher, because of his:

  • humility and humour.
  • understanding of people’s needs.

He loved his followers, inspiring devotion and discipline from them.


Key quote on ethics and money

The most precious treasure is virtue.


Key quote on stress and pain

No one saves us but ourselves.


Key quote on peace of mind

Work out your salvation with diligence.


Key quotes on love

The greatest gain is to give to others; the greatest loss is to greedily receive without gratitude

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love.


Key quote on positive thinking

What you think you become.


Key quote on peace, past, present and future

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.


Key quote on happiness

If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.


Key quotes on success

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.


Key quote on influencing people

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.


Key quote on society

A generous heart, kind service, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.


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