FUNDAMENTALS OF BUDDHISM
Buddhism values our intelligence and our own choices in life. It encourages us to cultivate wisdom and compassion to the fullest extent and to be responsible for all our actions.
Shakyamuni Buddha first expounded the Four Noble Truths to five of his fellow monks nearly 2,500 years ago. It was the first teaching that he presented after his own profound enlightenment. Yet, as guiding principles for the practice of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are still relevant today because they speak to perennial truths about human existence.
There is a saying in Mahayana Buddhism: "Those who have precepts to break are bodhisattvas; those who have no precepts to break are outer-path followers."
Buddhism can be approached by studying the teachings and by practicing the teachings. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two. Deliberating upon and profoundly discerning the teachings can itself become a way of practice. Similarly, practicing to attain wisdom (prajna) requires stabilizing the mind (samadhi) through understanding the teachings. Study and practice, like prajna and samadhi, are thus intimately connected.