The Pali Canon is a collection of texts central to the teachings of Theravada Buddhism. The Pali Canon addresses the rules of conduct and regulations within the monastic order of Buddhism, the discourses spoken by the Buddha and his disciples, and scholastic interpretation of the teachings of the Buddha (Fronsdal 2005). We will first focus on the discourses spoken by the Buddha to further our understanding of the Buddhist religion.
[Buddha:] “What do you think monks: Is form permanent or impermanent?”
“And is the impermanent suffering or happiness?”
“And with respect to what is impermanent, suffering, naturally unstable, is it proper to perceive it in this way: “This is mine; I am this; this is my self?”
“Definitely not sir.”
“It is the same way with feelings, discrimination, compositional factors, and consciousness. Therefore, monks, every single form- past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; low or high; near or far- should be viewed in this way, as it really is, with correct insight: 'This is not mine; this is not I; this is not my self.'
Source: Samyutta-nikaya 3.59.TR.JP.
In this passage the Buddha speaks about the five aggregates that create a false notion of the soul. Since everything we experience is impermanent and constantly changing, we must try to achieve a clear perception of reality by disassociating ourselves from desire. Having a desire for anything impermanent we will inevitably lead to suffering. Even the aggregates that are responsible for our perceived self are impermanent and ever changing.
All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a corrupted mind, and suffering follows as the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox. All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a peaceful mind, and happiness follows Like a never-departing shadow.
Source: Dhammapada 1.1-2
This piece of scripture shows us that we have the ability to choose the path we follow. Being aware of the reactions that our speech and actions create is an important aspect in being mindful and self aware. As we saw in the Buddha's first sermon, we should control our minds and focus on expressing speech and behavior that promotes charity and good will, so that we avoid suffering. If we deviate from having good intentions and create suffering, we will inevitably feel karma's immediate backlash.
The Sects of Buddhism
When the Buddha passed away he told his followers that the Dharma would be their leader and instructed them to follow the teachings he had already taught. The Buddha once compared his Dharma to a raft, which could be used to cross the river of life and death, but should be discarded once we reach our final destination (Loy 2008). We must understand that the various Buddhist sects may have very different approaches for attaining liberation but they are all trying to achieve the same...