In this book the wonderful Dzongsar Khyentse argues that in order to be a Buddhist what one really needs is to accept these four truths:
- All compouned things are impermanent
- All emotions are pain
- All things are illusory
- Nirvana is beyond concepts
It's claimed that all the "paraphenalia" of buddhism and all the different well known and esoteric rituals and practices are simply skillful means to having people realise these four truths.
That is to break people away from the concepts they cling to and the sense of self that they cherish and free them from the mental habit patterns that bind them to their own suffering.
This is a well written book by an authentic teacher that seems to have a handle on what the western audience is like. This will be the book I will recommend to anyone that wants to know what Buddhism is all about.
They are referred to as the four seals of Dharma. The word Dharma is translated in different ways but usually means something like "nature" or rather "natural law". It tends to refer to the laws of nature according to how the Buddha has taught. ↩︎