The First Council held shortly after the Buddha's Parinirvana emphasized the Hinayana teachings.
Initially, the Hinayana schools flourished in India, and 18 schools of Hinayana were known at the time of the great Indian King Ashoka in the first century B.C.E.
During Asoka's reign, Buddhism began to spread throughout Asia, and Hinayana became established in Sri Lanka.
The Theraveda schools taught the Four Noble Truths:
- The Truth of Suffering;
- The Truth of Causality;
- The Truth of Cessation; and,
- The Truth of the Path to Cessation or the eight fold path that takes you out of suffering.
The eightfold path consists of the following: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
The Theraveda also places importance on discipline called the Vinaya. Simply put, the Vinaya are the rules the monastics commit to in order to tame the mind and body: one cannot reach realization without having first tamed his/her mind and body.