The Dharma, Buddha's teachings

The Dharma or Buddha's teachings consists of two main paths: the Hinayana or the vehicle of the elders and the Mahayana or the Great vehicle.

In the Hinayana the emphasis is on the first teaching given by Buddha after achieving enlightenment, that's to say the Four Noble Truths : suffering or the flawed conditions of existence, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the path that leads to its cessation known as the Eightfold Path.

The Mahayana, although it relies on this first cycle of teachings, puts the emphasis on the awakening mind or bodhicitta. To commit himself to this awakening mind, the bodhisattva or Mahayana practitioner endeavours to develop the Paramitas or Transcendental Perfections which are generosity, ethical behaviour, patience, diligence, non-distraction and knowledge ; the latter helps to attain the ultimate understanding of the non-self of the individual and of phenomena, called emptiness.

The true understanding of the Dharma develops through listening, thinking and meditating.

Listening means getting to know the Dharma in a spirit of openness by realizing that Buddha's teachings is a suitable path which answers our questions and spiritual quest.

Reflection is important because Buddha himself stated that no teaching should be accepted without thinking it over carefully. Therefore, it is out of the question to adopt the Dharma teachings just out of respect or devotion. We have to integrate them into our own understanding by taking all elements we are made up of into account - our mental structure, our human and cultural values - so that we begin to feel the necessary trust and energy allowing us to put these teachings into practice.

Meditation is synonymous with mind training. Intellectual understanding is not enough although it is an important part of the Dharma practice. It is necessary to train ourselves to apply the teachings in such a way that they help us transform our mind gradually. This transformation should be obvious in our usual behaviour, our daily way of living and qualities such as love, compassion, benevolence, consideration for others should grow. At the same time disruptive factors such as greed, loathing and hatred, indifference, jealousy and pride should decrease given that all these emotions express our clinging to the ego and generate negative acts, a source of suffering for ourselves and others.


 The Vajrayana

The Vajrayana or the diamand vehicle is one branch of the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle. Relying on Buddha's teachings known as the Sutras on which the Hinayana and the Mahayana are based, the Vajrayana relies as well  on the teachings called the Tantras.   

Specifically represented by Tibetan buddhism, The Vajrayana while relying on the virtues of renunciation and discipline of the Hinayana and while developing the Mahayana motivation (the enlightenment spirit), uses its own skilful means. By focusing on Buddha's nature within all individuals in the form of symbols called Yidams and Protectors, the transmission of the Vajrayana is performed through three methods:

The empowerment of a Yidam or Protector.

The loung or transmission of written instructions which allows the practitioner to use the practice text. These instructions are essential for knowing how to meditate on a Yidam or Protector. Besides, in the Vajrayana practices of meditation there are two stages : the stage of creation and completion.

Thus, the Vajrayana is the path which uses empowerment as a means of transmitting and symbolism and rituals as a means of practising.



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