What Is Buddhism?


Most of the following has been extracted from "What Did Buddha Teach?" You probably will not be able to obtain a copy of this particular work. It was commissioned for the Thai people by the Royal Highness Princess of Thailand. john is so very grateful to Lieutentant-General Ronachuck, Deputy Commander of Intelligence, Thailand for giving him his copy. They were able to talk together for many hours on Buddhism while he was in the United States. He is a dear friend.

The four Noble Truths are:

1. Suffering, which means birth, decay and death are the normal incidents of life. We experience sorrow, pain, grief and despair. Our body and mind are subject to suffering or, in other words, we may say that our existence is bound up with suffering.

2. The cause of this suffering is desire. We long to own what we desire, to be what we desire to be, or to avoid those states to which we feel aversion.

3. We can stop this suffering by stopping desire of such longings of the mind.

4. The way to stop this suffering is by following the Noble Eightfold Path, namely Right Understanding, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.


The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right Understanding, meaning an intellectual grasp of the Four Noble Truths or of the true nature of existence.

2. Right Intention, meaning intention to be free from all bonds of suffering. Such intention should be free from revenge, hatred and harmfulness.

3. Right Speech, meaning abstinence from lying; from tale-bearing and vicious talk that cause discord; from harsh language; and from vain, irresponsible and foolish talk.

4. Right Action, meaning avoidance of killing and torturing., of theft and misappropriation, and of adultry.

5. Right Livelihood, meaning rejection of wrong means of livelihood and living by right means.

6. Right Effort, meaning effort to avoid the arising of evil; effort to overcome evil and demeritorious states that have already arisen; effort to develop good and beneficial states of mind, and effort to maintain them when they have arisen.

7. Right Mindfulness, meaning dwelling in comtemplation of the true stations of the mind, for instance, the four Stations of Mindfulness which are the Body, Sensation, Mind , and Dhamma.

8. Right Concentration, meaning the fixing of the mind upon a single deed which we wish to perform along the right path.


Some people use Buddhism as a religion. john thinks that Buddha would be upset with this. He is quoted as saying "If you see me on the road, kill me." This john interprets to mean that he viewed himself as just a man, and he should not be turned into a god. john uses Buddhism as a Philosophy of Life. Buddhism is then a means of seeking harmony, beauty, and a peace of mind.


john feels that the spirit of Buddhism is perhaps best captured by the "Strawberry Koan". Here is one of many, many versions of it:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!