Buddhist countries of southern Asia, there never arose any
serious differences on the fundamentals of Buddhism. All these
countries - Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, have
accepted the principles of the Theravada school and any differences
there might be between the various schools is restricted to
earliest available teachings of the Buddha are to be found in
Pali literature and belongs to the school of the Theravadins,
who may be called the most orthodox school of Buddhism. This
school admits the human characteristics of the Buddha, and is
characterised by a psychological understanding of human nature;
and emphasises a meditative approach to the transformation of
consciousness. The teaching of the Buddha according to this
school is very plain. He asks us to 'abstain from all kinds
of evil, to accumulate all that is good and to purify our mind'.
These can be accomplished by The Three Trainings: the development
of ethical conduct, meditation and insight-wisdom.
philosophy of this school is that all worldly phenomena are
subject to three characteristics - they are impermanent and
transient; unsatisfactory and that there is nothing in them
which can be called one's own, nothing substantial, nothing
permanent. All compounded things are made up of two elements
- the non-material part and the material part. They are further
described as consisting of nothing but five constituent groups,
namely the material quality, and the four non-material qualities
- sensations, perception, mental formatives and consciousness.
When that perfected state of insight is reached, i.e. Nibanna,
that person is a 'worthy person' an Arhat. The life of the Arhat
is the ideal of the followers of this school, a life where all
(future) birth is at an end, where the holy life is fully achieved,
where all that has to be done has been done, and there is no
more returning to the worldly life'.