Fundamental Dharma Teachings

In your study of the dharma, you will encounter numerous lists, which the Buddha created to make his teachings accessible and memorable. The lists I’ve included here are some of the basic ones, which are fundamental to your comprehension of the dharma.

To fully understand them, I recommend that you attend meditation classes, daylong workshops, and silent retreats; join a dharma study group; and read some of the books recommended in the reading list on this website. May your study and practice of the dharma bring you love, joy, wonder, and wisdom in this life, just as it is. — Phillip Moffitt

The Triple Gem

  • Buddha – the historical Buddha and one’s own potential for awakening
  • Dharma – the teachings of the Buddha; the truth of the way things are
  • Sangha – the community; in Asia this refers to the monastic community, in the West this includes lay practitioners

These are also referred to as The Three Refuges:
“I take refuge in: the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha”


The Four Noble Truths

  1. There is suffering
  2. The origin of suffering is craving
  3. There is an end to suffering
  4. The way to the end of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eighfold Path

    Wisdom (panna) Factors:

  1. Right Understanding (or view)
  2. Right Thought (or intention)Ethical Conduct (or sila) Factors:
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right LivelihoodConcentration (or samadhi) Factors:
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness of the body in the body (includes the breath and the four elements: earth, fire, water, air)
  2. Mindfulness of feeling tones in feeling tones (whether something is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral)
  3. Mindfulness of the mind in the mind
  4. Mindfulness of objects of the mind

The Three Marks of Existence

  1. Impermanence (anicca)
  2. Suffering (dukkha)
  3. No Self (anatta)

The Four Brahma-Viharas (Heavenly Abodes)

  1. Loving-kindness (metta)
  2. Compassion (karuna)
  3. Empathetic Joy (mudita)
  4. Equanimity (upekkha)

The Five Precepts

  1. To refrain from taking life
  2. To refrain from taking that which is not freely given
  3. To refrain from sexual misconduct
  4. To refrain from unwise/unskillful speech
  5. To refrain from intoxication

The Five Hindrances

  1. Sensual Desire (kammachanda)
  2. Anger or ill will (byapada vyapada)
  3. Sloth and Torpor (thina-middha)
  4. Restlessness (uddhacca=kukkucca)
  5. Doubt   (vicikiccha)

The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

  1. Mindfulness (sati)
  2. Investigation of the dharma (dhammavicaya)
  3. Energy (viriya)
  4. Rapture (piti)
  5. Tranquility (passaddhi)
  6. Concentration (samadhi)
  7. Equanimity (upekkha)
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