Vulture Peak Mountain in India - Place of the Transmission of the Heart Sutra

Buddha’s Teaching

An introduction by Lama Choedak Rinpoche

According to the precious teaching of the Buddha all sufferings and problems have their origin in the three afflictions, i.e. desire, hatred and ignorance. Buddhadharma is an effective medicine to cure all sufferings that are caused by these destructive emotions. In essence, Buddha taught that self-discipline, meditation and wisdom will remedy the three afflictions. The three main Buddhist traditions promote the practices of renunciation, altruism and emptiness as the three fundamental principles of the teachings.

In order to remedy desire, the teaching of the individual liberation vehicle (Theravada Buddhism) places great emphasis on the practice of renunciation, or the rejection of sensory objects by adopting self-restraint, discipline and simplicity.

Mahayana Buddhism, on the other hand, emphasises altruism: to embrace the world by cultivating Bodhicitta to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others. With loving kindness and compassion as the instigator of action, hatred will be overcome. While both renunciation and altruism are essential, without the wisdom of realising no-self, they may bring a sense of hopelessness and cause compassion fatigue and discouragement in practitioners, at some point along the path. Therefore, it is important of have a good comprehension of the philosophical analysis of Emptiness, as explained in the Buddhist texts. However, the realisation of selflessness will take a long time if one lacks merit.

The third stream, Vajrayana Buddhist practice, is based on the other two forms of Buddhism and offers a multitude of additional techniques to help one accumulate merit and transcendental wisdom and, through deity yoga meditation, accelerates one’s understanding of Emptiness. These practices enable students to transcend the notion of ‘self’ and ‘other’ and the confusion caused by dualistic views.

Excerpt from ‘Meditation on White Tara – The Goddess of Vitality and Longevity’ by Lama Choedak Rinpoche, published by Sakya Losal Choe Dzong, Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra Inc, 2014.