We see many general teachings attributed to the Buddha, and some nice expositions of individual Suttas. But it’s rare to see an overview of the whole teaching of the Buddha in an understandable format. Educated people love charts and graphs, so here is a chart depicting the overall view of the Buddha’s teaching in the Theravāda Suttas.
Ordinary life is an obsessive process of becoming driven by ‘I’-making and ‘mine’-making, culminating in failure, loss and suffering. The cause of this suffering is the sequence of paṭicca-samuppāda, or Dependent Origination, discovered by the Buddha. Ordinarily, at each death the cycle of becoming begins anew; that is saṃsāra, the round of birth and death. Release from this cycle is possible via a special process of becoming, leading to the end of becoming. That is the Buddha’s teaching, this very Noble Eightfold Path.
An interesting feature of the Buddha’s teaching is that the cause of suffering and the cause of release are the same process of becoming. Only becoming in saṃsāra is done in ignorance, and becoming on the Path is done in full knowledge.
For more on Dependent Origination and the source of this diagram, see Practical Dependent Origination by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.