Entire Q&A for printing // without links

Q&A for Book Study of

What the Buddha Taught by Rev. Dr. Walpola Rahula

Chapter 1

The Buddhist Attitude Of Mind

  1. Did The Buddha regard himself as a God?
  1. What did He attribute all his realizations, attainments and achievements to?
  2. What did the Buddha mean when he said “One is one’s own refuge, who else could be the refuge” ?
  3. How does one become his own ‘refuge’?
  4. Even though doubt is one of the Five Hindrances how does it help us move forward in our understanding and practice of Buddhism?
  5. What is sympathetic understanding?
  6. What is the author trying to convey with the question is “Buddhism a religion or philosophy”, “Truth” and “labels’?
  7. How does Buddhist faith (saddha) differ from other religion’s faith?
  8. What is the definition of faith/ saddha in Buddhism?
  9.  What are the three aspects of saddha (according to Asanga)?
  10.  The Buddha didn’t want his disciples to follow his teachings by ‘blind faith’ he wanted you to ‘come and see’. What practices have you tried and developed conviction in because you diligently practiced? What practices do you think you should try that you haven’t already?
  11.  How does the Buddha say a wise man preserves the Truth?
  12.  Explain the ‘raft’ simile.
  13.  Explain the ‘leaf and forest’ story.
  14.  Note the 10 questions the Buddha would not answer. Why did He not answer those 10 questions?

16. What does The Buddha say about metaphysical views?

17. At the end of the chapter, speaking with Malunkyputta, what is it that the Buddha says he teaches and why does The Buddha teach what He teaches?



Chapter 2

The Four Noble Truths

The First Noble Truth: Dukkha


 1. What are the Four Noble Truths?

2. Is Buddhism pessimistic? Why or why not?

3. What is ordinary definition in Pali for dukkha?

4. What is the full, complete, accurate definition of dukkha with regards to the First Noble Truth?

5. The Buddha does not deny happiness in life, what are the different forms of happiness?

6. Why does The Buddha say even the happiness of family life, recluse life, spiritual attainments are included in dukkha?

7. What are the three things one should clearly understand with regard to life and enjoyment of sense pleasures?

8. How is viewing life’s pleasures, happiness and sorrow objectively and with the understanding of dukkha, beneficial to you and others?

9. What are three aspects the conception of dukkha may be viewed from and what are some examples of these three aspects?

10. According to Buddhist philosophy, what is it that we call “a being’ , “Individual” and “I”?

11. Why are the Five Aggregates also called dukkha?

12. What are the names of the Five Aggregates?

A. The first Aggregate is the Aggregate of Matter (form)

1. What are the Four Great Elements included in the first Aggregate?

2. What are the Derivatives of the Four Great Elements?

B. The second Aggregate is the Aggregate of Sensation (feeling)

1. What are all our sensations, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral experienced through?

2. What are the six kinds of physical and mental organs ?

Mind (manas)

According to Buddhist philosophy explain what is and is not ‘Mind’.

C. The third Aggregate is the Aggregate of Perceptions (conception,        apperception, cognition or discrimination)

1. How are the Aggregates of Perception produced?

2. How many kinds of Aggregates of Perception are there?

D. The fourth Aggregate is the Aggregate of Mental Formations (impulses, volition)

1. What is included in this group of the fourth Aggregates?


What is The Buddha’s definition of Karma?

2. What is the function of volition?

3. How many kinds of volition are there?

4. What are not volitional actions?

5. List a few volitional activities that can produce karmic effects.

E.  The fifth Aggregate is the Aggregate of Consciousness (discernment)

1. What is the definition of consciousness?

2. Is the function of consciousness to recognize an object? Why or why not?

3. Is the ‘Soul’, ‘Self’, ‘Ego’ synonymous with consciousness? Why or      why not?

4. How does The Buddha explain consciousness in detail to his disciple Sati?

5. Does or can consciousness exist independently?

6. Why does the author say a true Buddhist is the happiest of beings?



Chapter 3

The Second Noble Truth : Samudaya ‘The Arising of Dukkha’


  1. What is the Second Noble Truth?
  2. What are the three ‘thirst’ (cravings) that give rise to all forms of dukkha/suffering?
  3. Even though this ‘thirst’, desire, greed, craving manifests in various ways that give rise to all forms of suffering and the continuity of beings it should not be taken as the first cause. Why?
  4. What does ‘thirst’ (craving) have at its centre?
  5. List desires that are included in the cause for ‘thirst’/craving.
  6. What are the four nutriments necessary as the cause for the existence and continuity of beings?
  7. What is ‘mental volition’?
  8. In your own words explain what is being said on page 31.
  9. What is the Buddhist definition of Karma?
  10.  Is there re-birth for an Arahant? Why or why not?
  11.  Explain the theory/law of Karma.
  12.   A being is nothing but a combination of physical and mental forces and energies. What we call death is the total non-functioning of the physical body.  Do all these forces and energies stop altogether with the non-functioning of the body?
  13.   What is it that takes some other shape and form, that is reborn, after the total non-functioning of the physical body?
  14.  What is it that conditions the so called next life’s first thought moment?

Chapter 4

The Third Noble Truth: Nirodha: ‘The Cessation of Dukkha’

  1. What is the Third Noble Truth?
  2. Because human language is poor and there is no such category to explain the supra-mundane experience of Nirvana. The Buddha has expressed Nirvana by skillful means in negative terms. What are a few examples the Buddha gives?
  3. Is Nirvana the annihilation of self? Why or why not?
  4. What does it mean for the Bhikkhu in MN140 who knows “Finished is birth, lived is pure life, what should be done is done, nothing more is left to be done.”?
  5. What is the Absolute Truth according to Buddhism?
  6. What is the realization of this Truth?
  7. What is the Mahayana view of Nirvana?
  8. Is Nirvana the result of the Path? Why or why not?
  9. What is an Arahant compared to after his death? Why?
  10.  How do we realize Nirvana for ourselves? 


Chapter 5

The Fourth Noble Truth: Magga: ‘The Path’


  1. What is the Fourth Noble Truth?
  2.  Why is it known as the Middle Path?
  3. What are the eight categories that constitute the Noble Eightfold Path?
  4. How should the Path be followed and practices? Why?
  5. What are the three essentials of Buddhist training and discipline?


Ethical Conduct / Sila

  1. On what is Ethical Conduct built?
  2. According to Buddhism what are the two qualities a man should develop equally to be perfect?
  3. What is compassion?
  4. What is wisdom?
  5. What are the three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path that fall under Ethical Conduct?
  6.  What is the practice of Right Speech?
  7.  What is the practice of Right Action?
  8.  What is the practice of Right Livelihood?
  9.  No spiritual development is possible without the moral basis of Ethical Conduct? TRUE or FALSE

Mental Discipline / Samadhi

  1.  On what factors of the Noble Eightfold Path is Mental Discipline built?
  2.  What is the practice of Right Effort?
  3.  What is the practice of Right Mindfulness?
  1.  What is the practice of Right Concentration?

19. Explain the first stage of Dhyana.

20. Explain the second stage of Dhyana.

21. Explain the third stage of Dhyana.

22. Explain the fourth stage of Dhyana.

Wisdom / Panna

23. On what two factors of the Noble Eightfold Path is Wisdom developed?

24. What is the practice of Right Thought (Right Intention)?

25. What is the practice of Right Understanding (Right View)?

  1. What are the two sorts of understanding according to Buddhism?
  2. What are the four functions with regard to the Four Noble Truths we need to perform?



Chapter 6

The Doctrine Of No-Soul: Anatta


  1. What is the non-Buddhist idea and definition of a conception called self?
  2. According to the teachings of The Buddha, what is the Buddhist thought of self?
  3. What did man create for self protection?
  4. Why did man create soul or Atman?
  5. How and why did man crate self protection and soul?
  6. Explain what the Buddha meant when he said that his teaching was ‘against the current’.
  7. The Buddha was hesitant to teach the Truth he had realized. What simile did he use to explain why he decided to teach it?
  8.  What is the Buddhist theory of relativity?
  9. What is the definition on Conditioned Genesis?
  10. Is there “Free Will” in Buddhist philosophy? Why or why not?
  11.  Those who want to find a “Self” in Buddhism argue as follows: It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these things is self. But he does not say that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from the aggregates. What is this position untenable?

12.  What is the definition of the term dhamma?

13. Theravada and Mahayana agree on the teachings of no self either in the individual or in dhamma. TRUE or FALSE

14. What did The Buddha say to Ananda to give him consolation, courage and confidence?

  1. 15.   How does one make one’s own island or refuge?  
  2.  According to the Buddha there are four ways of treating questions? What are the four ways and why does the Buddha answer questions in these different ways?
  3.  According to the Buddha’s teaching, what are the two wrong opinions to hold of ‘the self’ and why?
  4.  What is the correct position to take with regard to Anatta?
  5.  Explain or put into your own words why The Buddha said “I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things.”

Chapter 7

‘Meditation’ Or Mental Culture: Bhavana


  1. What did The Buddha say the two kinds of illnesses are?
  2. What is the Definition of Buddhist bhavana?
  3. What is the aim of Buddhist bhavana?

4. What are the two forms meditations are their descriptions?

5. What are the five hindrances to meditate, study and deliberate on?

6. What are the Seven Factors of Illumination (Seven Factors of Enlightenment)?

7. What other subjects are mentioned as good to ‘meditate’ on?

Chapter 8

What The Buddha Taught and The World Today

  1. What misconception about Buddhist practice does the author dispel? Why?
  2. Why was the Sangha established by The Buddha?
  3. What are the labels of the six directions of worship for a layperson’s noble discipline?
  4. While one is considered a Buddhist by the authors account if one understands the Buddha’s teaching, and if one is convinced that his teaching is the right Path and if one tries to follow it, then one is a Buddhist. Tradition also has it that one is a Buddhist when one takes refuge in The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha (The Triple Gem) and observes the Five Precepts.  What are the Five Precepts?
  5. What are the four things conducive to a layman’s happiness in this world?
  6. What are the four virtues conducive to a layman’s happiness hereafter?

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August 2019
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"The gift of Dharma surpasses all gifts."
Dhammapada 354

"Giving, a Dharma life, caring for relatives, and blameless deeds: this is the greatest fortune."
Sn 263

"There are two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things and a gift of the Dharma. Of the two, the gift of Dharma is supreme."
Itivuttaka 98

"Directing one's mind to the states of faith, learning, generosity, and wisdom, one has a comfortable abiding.
Majjhima Nikaya 68.10

“Furthermore, Subhuti, in the practice of compassion and charity a disciple should be detached. That is to say, he should practice compassion and charity without regard to appearances, without regard to form, without regard to sound, smell, taste, touch, or any quality of any kind. Subhuti, this is how the disciple should practice compassion and charity. Why? Because practicing compassion and charity without attachment is the way to reaching the Highest Perfect Wisdom, it is the way to becoming a living Buddha”
-The Diamond Sutra

'What the Buddha Taught' by Rev. Dr. Walpola Rahula pdf

Bodhi Monastery's Webpage

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