Essential Question: What were the moral teachings of the Buddha? Chapter 8, Section 2

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Essential Question: What were the moral teachings of the Buddha?

Chapter 8, Section 2 (Part 1, pgs 223-226)
Today we will examine the religious and moral teachings of the Buddha.
What does it mean to examine something? What types of things will we do if we are examining a person’s life and teachings? Take a guess.


The word examine is a verb, which means that it is an action. To examine something means to inspect, observe, or study.

Take a look at the picture on the right. What is the girl looking at?
Let’s make a sentence about the picture:
Lydia is interested in studying geography. To learn more about the world, she examines the globe.

Today we will examine the life and teachings of Buddha, a religious leader. To begin, read the passage below and consider what the Buddha did in his life. To do this, circle all of the verbs. Then answer the questions on the right side of the paper. The first verb is already circled for you.

The Beliefs of Buddhism

Background Knowledge
In his search for enlightenment, the Buddha studied the teachings of Hinduism. He accepted the ideas of reincarnation, the cycle of life, and

the law of karma.

From there, however, the Buddha moved away from

Hindu ideas. He did not believe in Brahman as the supreme

God of the universe. He questioned the idea of atman, or

that each person has a soul that survives death. He also

rejected the caste system. In his view, the good and bad

actions of people were more important than their caste. In

this section, you will read about the teachings of the Buddha

and the religion he founded. You will also learn about the

people who chose to follow the Buddha and the development

of early Buddhist texts.

  1. What is the religion that Buddha examined?

  1. After the Buddha examined Hinduism, he rejected it. What were his reasons?

List his reasons below.

Buddha statue from 300

Read the passage below. Before the Buddha became a holy man, he was a prince named Siddhartha Guatama. Read about Siddartha Guatama and answer the question to the right.

The Buddha’s Teachings
When Siddhartha Gautama gained enlightenment, he had a flash of insight, or understanding. He understood why people suffer. He also saw how people could escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth. These insights formed

the basis of his teachings.

3. What human condition was Siddhartha Guatama most concerned with?

The Buddha’s teaching is called the Middle Way. Let’s read the passage below and examine the Middle Way.

The Middle Way
The Buddha began his teaching with the ascetics who had abandoned him earlier. He met them in a deer park, or a hunting ground for deer, near the city of Benares. “Here comes the ascetic Gautama, he who eats rich food,” they said on seeing the Buddha. “Let us show him no respect, nor rise to see him.” But his face shone with such joy that they could not help but welcome him.
The Buddha then gave what is called the Deer Park Sermon. He told the ascetics that they should avoid two extremes in seeking wisdom. One extreme was “a life given to pleasures.” The other was a life of painful self-denial. The Buddha explained that he had not gained understanding

while living as a wealthy prince or while practicing self-denial. Instead, he advised them to follow a Middle Way. “To keep the body in good health is a duty,” the Buddha said. “For

otherwise we shall not be able to . . . keep our minds strong and clear.”

  1. Who did the Buddha meet in the deer park?

The Buddha’s sermon describes two extremes and suggests that people should follow the Middle Way. After reading the paragraph, fill out the graphic organizer below. List a couple of examples of pleasure and denial using your own ideas or from the reading.

Life of Pleasure Life of Denial

Examples: Examples:

Eating a lot of sweets Eating two times per week

If a Life of Pleasure is bad for you and a Life of Denial is bad for you, what is the Middle Way?

Read the section below. As you read, underline the main idea of each paragraph.

The Four Noble Truths

The Buddha continued his Deer Park Sermon by describing the Four Noble Truths that he had learned while sitting under the Bodhi Tree.

The First Noble Truth is that all life includes suffering.

Birth, sickness, old age, and death bring suffering. People also

suffer from being separated from the people they love.
The Second Noble Truth is that suffering is caused

by wanting or desiring things that one does not have. The

Buddha did not preach that all desires were bad. For example,

it is not wrong to desire the happiness of others, but selfish

desires lead to suffering.
The Third Noble Truth is that suffering can be ended.

Its cure is to overcome selfish desires and wants.

The Fourth Noble Truth is that the way to overcome

selfish desires is to follow the Eightfold Path.

After examining the Four Noble Truths, fill out the graphic organizer below that outlines each of Buddha’s teachings.

What is the First Noble Truth? Use your own words.


According to the Second Noble Truth, _____________ causes suffering.
What does Buddha say can bring an end to suffering?


Question: What do you think you will need to examine to learn more about Buddhism?
Answer: If you guessed the Eightfold Path, you are correct.

The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path describes a way of life that leads to the end of desire. The first steps on this path are not hard to carry out in everyday life. The later ones involve becoming aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, and require more effort. The Buddha taught that this path was open to anyone, no matter what caste the person was born into.

Below, each step of the Eightfold Path is listed, with an explanation of each act. Examine the chart and answer the questions below.

Examine steps 1 and 2. How are these related to the Four Noble Truths?

Examine steps 3-5. Give a practical example of Right Speech, Right Conduct, or Right Livelihood.


Examine steps 6-7. What part of the body do you have to train or change to work on these steps?


Reaching Nirvana
The final goal of a person who follows the Eightfold Path is to reach nirvana. Nirvana is a state of blissful peace without desire or suffering. Those who enter nirvana are liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth. They are no longer subject to the law of karma. However, this does not mean that death occurs.

What is nirvana?

Why do Buddhists want to read a state of nirvana?

After examining Buddhism, what are the main things you can recall from the lesson?

What Buddhist practices and ideas may have inspired people to convert to this religion?

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