First, the four noble truths and the eightfold path and
The Four Noble Truths:
1- The truth of misery: Buddhism locates the suffering not in the khanavāda ("fleeting moments") of experience (for these are the "really real" elements in experience and the source of our aliveness and joy) but in the compulsiveness with which people attempt to stop the world and insist upon some kind of security and predictability in their lives.
2- Misery originates within us from the craving for pleasure and for being or non-being: As people become free from clinging and manage a degree of disengagement from their own compulsive drives, they can construct elaborate conceptual systems as instruments for widening and vivifying awareness.
3- Human craving can be eliminated: Freedom from the unsatisfactoriness of existence is found by extinguishing desire, which means the cessation of clinging aimed at self-possession.
Here nirvana means the "cooling" or "extinguishing" of the flame of craving that engenders ego-enclosed "I-ness."
Instead of an attachment to being, there is now generated a dis-attachment from being, which accordingly frees the enlightened person from the restless bondage of duhkha --and the wheel of karmic samsara, producing a tranquility untroubled by worldly occurrences.
This is not to say that pain and pleasure are no longer felt; they are simply no longer of ultimate consequence.
4- The truth that this elimination is the result of a methodical way or path that must be followed:
Eightfold Path: How can one escape the continually renewed cycle of birth, suffering, and death (samsara)? Here ethical conduct enters in:
1- right views (the right perspective of things, not too much, not too little)
2- right aspirations (one projected into the future)
3- right speech (words need self-governance, constructive words coming from a constructive mind --- ahimsa)
4- right conduct (our dharma)
5- right livelihood (living a life which transpires our purpose)
6- right effort (action in inaction)
7- right mindfulness (self-government at the mental level, not allowing destructive thoughts inside, "not in this house")
8- right meditational attainment (YOGA).
The term "right" (true or correct) is used to distinguish sharply between the precepts of the Buddha and other teachings.
Nirvana: The aim of religious practice is to be rid of the delusion of ego, thus freeing oneself from the fetters of this mundane world (i.e., the endless round of rebirths). This is the final goal -not a paradise or a heavenly world. Though nirvana is often presented negatively as "release from suffering," it is more accurate to describe it in a more positive fashion: as a goal to be sought and cherished.
Karma: The belief in rebirth, or samsara, as a potentially endless series of worldly existences in which every being is caught up was already associated with thedoctrine of karma in pre-Buddhist India, and it was generally accepted by both the Theravada and the Mahayana traditions. According to the doctrine of karma, good conduct brings a pleasant and happy result and creates a tendency toward similar good acts. This furnishes the basic context for the moral life of the individual.
Sangha: Sangha refers to the assembly of believers. There are two meanings, the monastic Sangha of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns and the assembly of all beings possessing some degree of realization.