How To Study Buddhism
When the Buddha taught the Dharma, He gave the world an inexhaustible gift: the ability to find the true freedom. The Dharma is the mirror that reflecrs the truth within us and shows us how to free ourselves from our own delusions. The value of learning the Dharma is not something that can be easily measured.
The first step we must take when we enter the gate of the Dharma is to look at ourselves. We must decide that we want to change, we want to learn, and we will really try to apply the Buddha’s teaching in our daily lives. The Dharma is like the light that dispels the darkness. The process of learning Dharma is the most exciting and wonderful kind of self discovery.
The Four Reliances
I. Rely on the Dharma and Not on an Individual Teacher
To rely on the Dharma is to always rely on the truth. We cannot rely on people because everyone has different perceptions and interpretations. Any single teacher is subject to birth, aging, sickness, and death, but the Dharma has not changed since the beginning. Although there are people who can instruct us and help us along the path, we must still experience and understand it for ourselves in order to truly make it our own.
II. Rely on Wisdom, Not on Knowledge
What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Wisdom is the truth that already lies within us. Knowledge is what we have gained through our experiences in outside world. The knowledge we obtain through our six sense organs (eyes, ear, nose, t0ngue, body, and mind) is constantly shifting with the changes of phenomena. This is why knowledge is not perfect.
On the other hand, wisdom is like a mirror of our true nature. When we use mirror to look at all the phenomena of the universe, it will reflect things as they really are.
The Four Noble Truths
- The first noble truth is the truth of the full awareness and understanding of suffering; that all beings are essentially incapable of being completely satisfied.
- The second noble truth is the truth of the origination of suffering. The origination of suffering is our attachment to desires.
- The third noble truth is the truth of the cessation of suffering, which can also be referred to as nirvana. It is beyond greed, anger, ignorance, and suffering, and it is beyond all duality and all distinctions between right and wrong, self and other, good and bad, and life and death.
- The fourth noble truth is the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering or the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path
- Right understanding or view.
- Right thought.
- Right speech.
- Right action.
- Right livelihood.
- Right progress.
- Right mind.
- Right concentration.