The Teachings of the Buddha

by Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

by Gonsar Rinpoche

The Teachings of the Buddha

Buddhism is understood as the teaching of the historical Buddha. These teachings are also called Dharma. How has Buddha described his own teachings? He has done so with the following words:

  • Do not do anything unwholesome,
  • Do wholesome deeds plentifully,
  • Tame your mind completely.
  • These are the teachings of the Buddha.

When we want to practice the teaching of the Buddha, we need to learn how to:

  • Avoid unwholesome actions
  • Accomplish wholesome actions
  • Tame our mind

These three points are the very root of all our experiences of happiness and suffering. If one is capable to refrain from committing unwholesome actions and to carry out wholesome actions, one will by this alone achieve happiness and avoidance of suffering for oneself as well as for others. If on the other hand one does not succeed in avoiding unwholesome actions, then even though one may strongly wish not to experience sufferings, one nevertheless will experience them. In the same way when one does not succeed in accomplishing wholesome actions, although one may have a very strong longing for happiness one will not be able to experience it.

When one understands how the experiences of happiness and suffering depend entirely on one's actions, one will automatically strive to adjust one's behaviour. Then, in order to stabilise this effort, it is necessary to tame one's mind. As long as one does not progress in taming one's mind then however much one may try to act in a wholesome manner and to avoid unwholesome actions, one will not quite succeed.

If one were to ask where the root of unwholesome actions lies the answer would be that it has its root in one's own mind. Just as the wholesome actions also have their root in one’s mind. For this reason, in order for us to tame our mind, Buddha has given such a great amount of teachings on the right View, the right Conduct and the right Meditation.

All kinds of sufferings that are experienced in this world, from a few moments of mental discomfort experienced by one person, up to extraordinary sufferings experienced by many beings in the world all have their source in the untamed mind. We repeatedly speak about all the turmoil and suffering in the world, about wars and disputes. All these disturbances have their root solely in the untamed mind of the beings. For this reason it is so important to tame the mind. Therefore, one should be aware of the fact that Buddha gave all his teachings with the sole intention of making it possible for us to tame our mind.

One should always be aware of this when dealing with the teaching of the Buddha. Whether one is listening to the teachings, reflecting or meditating on them, it should always be done with the determination to tame one's mind by this very effort. When somebody gives teachings on Buddhism, it should be done solely with the intention of showing the beings how to tame their mind. Whatever aspect of Dharma one uses, whatever activity of Dharma one follows, the underlying motivation should always be carried by the understanding that all of one's efforts must serve for taming one's mind.

© 17.07.24 Rabten Choeling • EditorialData protection