The basic doctrines of primitive Buddhism, which are still common to all Buddhism, include the four noble truths: existence is suffering (dukhka); suffering has a cause, that is, imperious need and attachment (trishna); there is a cessation of suffering, which is nirvana; and there is a path that leads to the cessation of suffering, the path of right views, the right resolution, the right discourse, the righteousness, the worthy means of life, the right effort, the perfect conscience and a correct concentration. Buddhism typically describes reality in terms of process and relationship rather than entity or substance.
The experience is analyzed in five aggregates (skandhas). The first, form (rupa), refers to material existence; the following four, sensations (vedana), perceptions (samjna), psychic constructions (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana) refer to psychological processes.
The central Buddhist teaching of the non-self (anatman) states that in the five aggregates no immutable self or soul can be found, which exists independently. All phenomena occur in the interrelation and dependence of causes and conditions, and therefore are subject to the inevitable decline and cessation. The occasional conditions are defined in a chain of 12 members called dependent origin (pratityasamutpada) whose links are: ignorance, predisposition, consciousness, name form, senses, contact, desire, seize, become, birth, old age and death. Hence the ignorance.
With this distinctive conception of cause and effect, Buddhism accepts the presupposition of samsara, according to which living beings are trapped in a continuous cycle of births and deaths, with the impulse of proportionate rebirth. for his previous physical and mental actions (karma). The liberation of this cycle of rebirth and suffering is the total transcendence called nirvana.
From the beginning, meditation and respect for moral precepts have been the basis of Buddhist practice. The five basic moral precepts adopted by the members of the monastic orders and the laity are to abstain from taking life, stealing, behaving unchastely, speaking falsely and drinking intoxicants. Members of monastic orders also follow five additional precepts: refrain from eating at inappropriate times, not attending secular entertainment, not wearing garlands, perfumes and other body adornments, sleeping in high and wide beds and not receiving money.
Their lives are also governed by a large number of rules known as Pratimoksa. The monastic order (sangha) is venerated as one of the three jewels, with the Dharma, or the religious teaching, and the Buddha. Secular practices, such as the cult of the stupas (burial mounds containing relics) predate Buddhism and have given rise to later ritual and devotional practices.