“Different people have different capacities for spiritual understanding and practice. For this reason, out of his compassion, Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings at many levels, just as a skillful doctor administers a variety of remedies to treat different types of sick people.
For those who wish merely to attain human happiness Buddha gave teachings revealing actions and their effects, or karma; and he taught moral discipline as their main practice.
For those who wish to experience the permanent inner peace of liberation, or nirvana, for themselves alone, Buddha gave teachings on the faults of samsara; and he taught the three higher trainings – training in higher moral discipline, training in higher concentration, and training in higher wisdom – as their main practice.
For those who wish to attain the ultimate goal of full enlightenment, Buddha gave teachings on the development of great compassion and bodhichitta; and he taught the six perfections – the perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, mental stabilization, and wisdom – as their main practice.
All these teachings are open to anyone who wishes to study and practice them. The experiences that are gained from practicing them are called the “common spiritual paths.”
Besides these teachings, Buddha also gave teachings on Tantra. These may be practiced only by those who have received Tantric empowerments. The experiences gained by practicing these teachings are called the “uncommon spiritual paths.”
For a comprehensive explanation of the spiritual paths of Tantra, see Tantric Grounds and Paths.
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Karma means actions: the actions of our body, speech and mind. This subject is very meaningful. Throughout our life we have to experience various kinds of suffering and problems without choice. This is because we do not understand what actions we need to abandon and what actions we need to practice. If we had this knowledge and put it into practice there would be no basis for experiencing suffering and problems.
Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, showed the manner of accomplishing the ultimate goal of living beings, the attainment of enlightenment, at Bodh Gaya in India in 589 BC.
Dharma means “protection.” By practicing Buddha’s teachings we protect ourself from suffering and problems. All the problems we experience during daily life originate in ignorance, and the method for eliminating ignorance is to practice Dharma.
Meditation is an ancient technology that has been used for thousands of years by people wishing to deepen their spiritual understanding and grow on the spiritual path.
What are the Four Noble Truths? These are first teachings Buddha gave after he attained enlightenment which explain the entire path to enlightenment.
Buddha taught how to examine our mind and see which states produce misery and confusion and which states produce health and happiness. He taught how to overcome the compulsively non-virtuous minds that confine us to states of discontent and misery, and how to cultivate the virtuous minds that liberate us from pain and lead us to the bliss of full enlightenment.