An individual's life today is determined by the deeds of his past lives and his present deeds in turn would affect how his next lives will turn out to be.
In short if an individual commits a good action, traces of its effects would be seen in his or her next several lifetimes, and the same is true for a bad action. The moral quality of an action is determined by the intention with which it is committed, a good action results from a good intention, and a bad intention begets bad action.
But Ananda, know that the most significant reason why Human suffering is caused is because of ignorance, which does not leave room for enlightenment; and selfish, egoistical cravings, which make an individual the servant of his or her lusts and desires.
Ignorance ensures that an individual does not see the truth for what it is, and so ends up running after things that do not really matter in the path towards attainment of lasting peace and bliss. Due to this ignorance, the individual stays caught up in self-centered cravings which cannot always be truly fulfilled in an uncertain world, where even the best of circumstances can change into the worst in the blink of an eye.
The events of this world are mostly beyond human control, and only disappointment and frustration can come of trying to control them. One cannot physically escape aging, death, illness, pain, sorrow, separation and other such avenues of human suffering in this cosmos, and the only way of doing so is to heighten one's spiritual perception of actual reality.
Dear Ananda, true release from suffering or nirvana can only come through meditation and self-abnegation, because it is only through these that one can reach enlightenment, and cease to have egoistical cravings.
The cycle of reincarnation is brought to a halt through the disciplinary practice of meditation and self-denial, because through these the individual comes to a stage where he or she does not have any self-centered desires. Once the ego becomes non-existent, and the individual stops thinking only about himself or herself, the path for nirvana is cleared.
An individual is able to deny his or her self so totally because he or she realizes that what is usually thought of as the Self is not the real Self at all. The real Self is not one's consciousness, nor one's body. It is the spiritual essence within that is essentially free from all worldly contaminations.
People forget their natural existence as spirit, and become involved in the temporal illusions of this world, immersing themselves in its transient realities, desiring temporary and materialistic satisfactions. But once an individual knows and accepts his or her original, true nature, the importance of the false self or the ego diminishes by itself.
Know, my dear Ananda, that there is human suffering in this world. This suffering has specific and identifiable causes. It can be ended and the way to end suffering is through enlightened living, as expressed in the Eightfold Path I have given you.
This path in its components provides guidance for the initial mental outlook of the individual, behavior appropriate for the individual in his or her quest for enlightenment, and the higher mental and spiritual qualities involved in a total dis-attachment from self.
The very first of these components is the Right View, which means that to achieve freedom from suffering one has to try and look at reality as it actually is, and to