The first turning of the wheel of Dharma
Just as there are three types of training – in wisdom, concentration, and morality – the Buddhist scriptures contain three divisions – discipline, sets of discourses, and knowledge.
Both male and female practitioners have an equal need to practice these three trainings, although there are differences in the vows they take. The basic foundation of the practice of morality is restraint from the ten unwholesome actions: three pertaining to the body, four pertaining to speech, and three pertaining to thought.
The three physical nonvirtues are:
- Taking the life of a living being, from and insect up to a human being.
- Stealing, taking away another’s property without his consent, regardless of its value, and whether or not you do it yourself.
- Sexual misconduct, committing adultery.
The four verbal nonvirtues are:
- Lying, deceiving others through spoken work or gesture.
- Divisiveness, creating dissesion by causing those in agreement to disagree or those in disagreement to disagree further.
- Harshness, abusing others.
- Senselessness, talking about foolish things motivated by desire and so forth.
The three mental nonvirtues are:
- Covetousness, desiring to possess something that belongs to another.
- Harmful intent, wishing to injure others, be it in a great or small way.
- Wrong view, viewing some existent thing such as rebirth, cause and effect, or the Three Jewels as non-existent.
The morality practiced by those who observe the monastic way of life is referred to as the discipline of individual liberation (Pratimoksha). In India there were four major schools of tenets, later producing 18 branches, which each preserved their own version of the Pratimoksha, the original discourse spoken by the Buddha, which laid down the guidelines for monastic life. The practice observed in the Tibetan monasteries follows the Mulasarvastavadin tradition in which 253 precepts are prescribed for fully ordained monks, or bhikshus. In the Theravadan tradition, the individual liberation vow of monks comprises 227 precepts.
In providing you with an instrument of mindfulness and alertness, the practice of morality protects you from indulging in negative actions. Therefore, it is the foundation of the Buddhist path. The second phase is meditation; it leads the practitioner to the second training, which is concerned with concentration.
Meditation in the general Buddhist sense is of two types – absorptive and analytical meditation. The first refers to the practice of the calmly abiding or single-pointing mind, and the second to the practice of analysis. In both cases, it is very important to have a firm foundation of mindfulness and alertness, which is provided by the practice of morality. These two factors – mindfulness and alertness – are important not only in meditation, but also in our day-to-day lives.
We speak of many different states of meditation, such as the form or formless states. The form states are differentiated on the basis of their branches, whereas the formless states are differentiated on the basis of the nature of the object of absorption.
We take the practice of morality as the foundation and the practice of concentration as a complementary factor, an instrument, to make the mind serviceable. So, later, when you undertake the practice of wisdom, you are equipped with such a single-pointed mind that you can direct all your attention and energy to the chosen object. In the practice of wisdom, you meditate on the selflessness or emptiness of phenomena, which serves as the actual antidote to the disturbing emotions.
The 37 Aspects of Enlightment
The general structure of the Buddhist path, as outlined in the first turning of the wheel of Dharma, consists of the 37 aspects of enlightenment. These begin with the four mindfulnesses, which refer to mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind and phenomena. Here, however, mindfulness refers to meditation on the suffering nature of cyclic existence, by means of which practitioners develop a true determination to be free from this cycle of existence.
Next are the four complete abandonments, because when practitioners develop a true determination to be free through the practice of the four mindfulnesses, they engage in a way of life in which they abandon the causes of the future suffering and cultivate the causes of future happiness.
Since overcoming all negative actions and disturbing emotions, and increasing positive factors within your mind, which are technically called the class of pure phenomena, can be achieved only when you have a very concentrated mind, there follow what are called the four factors of miraculous powers.
Next come what are known as the five faculties, five powers, eightfold noble path, and seven branches of the path to enlightenment.
This is the general structure of the Buddhist path as laid down in the first turning of the wheel of Dharma. Buddhism as practiced in the Tibetan tradition completely incorporates all these features of the Buddhist doctrine.
The second turning of the wheel of Dharma
In the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, the Buddha taught the Perfection of Wisdom or Prajnaparamita sutras on the Vuture’s Peak, outside Rajgir.
The second turning of the wheel of Dharma should be seen as expanding upon the topics which the Buddha had expounded during the first turning of the wheel. In the second turning, he not only taught the truth of suffering, that suffering should be recognized as suffering, but emphasized the importance of identifying both your own suffering as well as that of all sentient beings, so it is much more extensive. When he taught the origin of suffering in the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, he referred not to the disturbing emotions alone, but also to the subtle imprints they leave behind, so this explanation is more profound.
The truth of cessation is also explained much more profoundly. In the first turning of the wheel of Dharma, cessation is merely identified, whereas in the Perfection of Wisdom sutras the Buddha explains the nature of this cessation and its characteristics in great detail. He describes the path by which sufferings can be ceased and what the actual state called cessation is.
The truth of the path is similarly dealt with more profoundly in the Perfection of Wisdom sutras. The Buddha taught a unique path comprising the realization of emptiness, the true nature of all phenomena, combined with compassion and the mind of enlightenment, the altruistic wish to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. Because he spoke of this union of method and wisdom in the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, we find that the second turning develops and expands on the first turning of the wheel of Dharma.
Although the four noble truths were explained more profoundly during the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, this is not because certain features were explained in the second that were not explained in the first. That cannot be the reason, because many topics are explained in non-Buddhist systems which are not explained in Buddhism, but that does not mean that other systems are more profound than Buddhism. The second turning of the wheel of Dharma explains and develops certain aspects of the four noble truths, which were not explained in the first turning of the wheel, but which do not contradict the general structure of the Buddhist path described in that first discourse. Therefore, the explanation found in the second is said to be more profound.
Yet, in the discourses of the second turning of the wheel we also find certain presentations that do contradict the general structure of the path as described of sutras, some which are taken at face value and are thought of as literally true, whereas others require the four reliances, we divide the sutras into two categories – the definitive and the interpretable.
These four reliances consist of advice to rely on the teaching, not on the person; within the teachings rely on the meaning, not on mere words; rely on definitive sutras, not those requiring interpretation; and rely on the deeper understanding of wisdom, not on the knowledge of ordinary awareness.
This approach can be found in the Buddha’s own words, as when he said: “O bhiksus and wise men, do not accept what I say just out of respect for me, but first subject it to analysis and rigorous examination.”
In the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, the Buddha further explained the subject of cessation, particularly with regard to emptiness, in a more elaborate and extensive way. Therefore, the Great Vehicle approach is to interpret those sutras on two levels: the literal meaning, which concerns the presentation of emptiness, and the hidden meaning which concerns the latent explanation of the stages of the path.
The third turning of the wheel of Dharma
The third turning of the wheel contains many different sutras, the most important of which is the Tathagata Essence sutra, which is actually the source for Nagarjuna’s Collection of Praises and also Maitreya’s treatise the Sublime Continuum. In this sutra, the Buddha further explores topics he had touched on in the second turning of the wheel, but not from the objective viewpoint of emptiness, because emptiness was explained to its fullest, highest, and most profound degree in the second turning. What is unique about the third turning is that Buddha taught certain ways of heightening the wisdom which realizes emptiness from the point of view of subjective mind.
The Buddha’s explanation of the view of emptiness in the second turning of the wheel, in which he taught about the lack of inherent existence, was too profound for many practitioners to comprehend. For some, to say phenomena lack inherent existence seems to imply that they do not exist at all. So, for the benefit of these practitioners, in the third turning of the wheel the Buddha qualified the object of emptiness with different interpretations.
For example, in the Sutra Unraveling the Thought of the Buddha, he differentiated various types of emptiness by categorizing all phenomena into three classes: imputed phenomena, which refers to their empty nature. He spoke of the various emptinesses of these different phenomena, the various ways of lacking inherent existence, and the various meanings of the lack of inherent existence of these different phenomena. So, the two major schools of thoughts of the Great Vehicle, the Middle Way (Madhyamika) and the Mind Only (Chittamatra), arose in India on the basis of these differences of presentation.
Next is the Tantric Vehicle, which I think has some connection with the third turning of the wheel. The word tantra means “continuity”. The Yoga Tantra text called the Ornament of the Vajra Essence Tantra explains that tantra is a continuity referring to the continuity of consciousness or mind. It is on the basis of this mind that on the ordinary level we commit negative actions, as a result of which we go through the vicious cycle of life and death. On the spiritual path, it is also on the basis of this continuity of consciousness that we are able to make mental improvements, experience high realizations of the path, and so forth. And it is also on the basis of this continuity of consciousness that we are able to achieve the ultimate state of omniscience. So, this continuity of consciousness is always present, which is the meaning of tantra, or continuity.
I feel there is a bridge between the sutras and tantras in the second and third turnings of the wheel, because in the second, the Buddha taught certain sutras which have different levels of meaning. The explicit meaning of the Perfection of Wisdom sutra is emptiness, whereas the implicit meaning is the stages of the paths which are to be achieved as a result of realizing emptiness. The third turning was concerned with different ways of heightening the wisdom which realizes emptiness. So I think there is a link here between sutra and tantra.
Different Explanations of Selflessness
From a philosophical point of view, the criterion for distinguishing a school as Buddhist is whether or not it accepts the four seals: that all composite phenomena are impermanent by nature, contaminated phenomena are of the nature of suffering, all phenomena are empty and selfless, and nirvana alone is peace. Any system accepting these seals is philosophically a Buddhist school of thought. In the Great Vehicle schools of thought, selflessness is explained more profoundly, at a deeper level.
Now, let me explain the difference between selflessness as explained in the second turning of the wheel and that explained in the first.
Let us examine our own experience, how we relate to things. For example, when I use this rosary here, I feel it is mine and I have attachment o it. If you examine the attachment you feel for your own possessions, you find there are different levels of attachment. One is the feeling that there is a self-sufficient person existing as a separate entity independent of your own body and mind, which feels that this rosary is “mine.”
When you are able, through meditation, to perceive the absence of such a self-sufficient person, existing in isolation from your own body and mind, you are able to reduce the strong attachment you feel toward your possessions. But you may also feel that there are still some subtle levels of attachment. Although you may not feel a subjective attachment from your own side in relation to the person, because of the rosary’s beautiful appearance, its beautiful color, and so forth, you feel a certain level of attachment to it in that a certain objective entity exists out there. So, in the second turning of the wheel, the Buddha taught that selflessness is not confined to the person alone, but that it applies to all phenomena. When you realize this, you will be able to overcome all forms of attachment and delusion.
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human. It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.' It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
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From Joe – Le Raton Vege, Montreal (in French, Quebecois)
From Biren (in English)
I wanted to write this article since a long time so here we are. That’s what I’ve learned over the years:
-Non positive people will let you feel down maybe more than you are already. Positive people encourage you, make you smile or laugh, they can also show you the bad AND the positive effects of any choice you’ve made.
-Positivity will bring you positivity. Same happens for negativity. You are what you think, so don’t be angry or sad, try to find solutions instead of problems.
-Problems are, unfortunately, everywhere. I mean, everyone got problems. More important sometimes, they got WORST problems then yours according to them and you probably think you’ve got worst problems than other persons. So……relax…be grateful every day for the gift of being alive. Time goes so swiftly. Everything can change in one second, depending on you: 10% is what happen to you, 90% is how you react to it.
-‘No’ does not means negativity. It’s right to say ‘No’, in any occasion where you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Choose companions who respect your well-being, who are enthusiastic about life and want to do something wonderful.
-Positivity will bring you less stress, more relaxed time, you will forget a bit about the future and concentrate your thoughts in the present time. You will have more open doors.
-If you already have positive friends, nurture them. They are important: the majority of the society is already depressed and is looking for people to save them but they don’t really want to be ‘saved’. Make sure to have lonely time only for yourself, and the rest of the time, surround yourself with positive people.
Focus with positive energy and the negative doesn’t consume you.
walking: come on don’t be lazy and just use your feet it’s the cheapest way 😉
by bike: bike around the world! (Read my article about the benefits of cycling clicking here)
by train: last minute train tickets or book 2-3 months in advance – Ouigo.com / you can also travel a continent using a train pass ; for example in Europe there is Interrail / Eurail – and you can probably bring your bike if you’d like!!
by air: Low cost companies: Jetstar Airways, Tiger Airways, Ryanair, AirAsia, EasyJet, Vueling, Iberia, XL Airways…
Peace begins on your plate…it means PLANT BASED EATING!
DO NOT WASTE FOOD…Industry and around us it’s enough!
for example Foodsharing (in Germany), Disco Soupe (in France) – check out your local farmers market everywhere you go (prefer support organic, remember that you vote with your wallet) – Food Not Bombs – AMAP / La Ruche qui dit oui (in France) – Organic shops – Foodswap –
CLOTHES AND STUFF (Not too much! 😉 )
Use second hand stuff : why buy new stuff when there is plenty of stuff people do not use or wear?
Support firms that respect environment and local people. Every action has a consequence somewhere else.
Go to Second Hand Shops in the nearest town, exchange stuff with friends, or give it to a charity (emmaus).
Free stuff: donnons.org (France), your friends probably or friends of friends?
Sell your stuff when you haven’t use it for a year. Buying second hand you respect the saying: “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” (A. Lavoisier)
Just go somewhere and do some activities you’ll meet people with whom you can learn something: to speak/practice a common language, share a meal, to play an instrument….etc HAVE FUN 🙂
Pantry: buy in bulk (limiting the plastic packaging and all the petrol costs to our environment….Plastic can not biodegrade, I fear that we’ve created a plastics time bomb that will last for centuries) – Possibly buy local products from organic producers/shops.
Using (second hand) glass jars, your herbs, nuts&seeds, grains, (home made?) dried fruits, etc will last longer and you can put your bulked products in it.
It’s not expensive to buy (one time and that’s it!) organic cotton&hemp reusable grocery bags you can reuse a million time!
Stuff: again second hand….you can really find some treasures there!…..
Food: Planting your own fruits and veggies you are more self-sustainable. If you don’t have a garden or a space to grow, you can always find a place on your windows or balcony. Herbs don’t take so much space!
Soaking the nuts activates and multiplies nutrients, neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and promotes the growth of vital digestive enzymes.
Cooking your own meals, you e.x.a.c.t.l.y know what’s inside. Plus, it’s relaxing and you will learn some techniques 🙂
Activities: Turn off the television – spend time doing some sport (anything you’d like), learning, reading, relaxing, meeting (real) people, doing what you like – but not being a spectator of advertisings trying to convince you to BUY.BUY.BUY…you do not need it to be happy.
Heyyyyyy! It’s December so winter time in Europe, and soon the famous day of the christ and where we all (all? really?!) celebrate this fantastic period of the year with family and friends.
Hey! Great! Another excuse to consume!
Even if you WON’T USE IT during the rest of the year, ask for more MORTGAGE to your bank, or just pretend that it is FINE for the other parts of the world. We consume all year and that’s NEVER ENOUGH: Christmas is so….traditional (yep, that’s the word)
Oh yeah, and do not forget to buy a (dead) piece of a Gentle-innocent-animal-you-did-not-kill-and-wouldNOT-then-you-could-say-you-have-cooked-it-with-lOve….. MEAL to share allllll together. Because it’s Christmas time.
…..Ho ho ho!
Please understand my irony in the sentences above.
Now, a series of images….because images are sometimes stronger than words: