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Apech

Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma

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I just wanted to raise the topic of the 3 Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma - I have seen a few people on here interpret these as kind of shifts in consciousness or levels and this suggests some kind of change which affects large numbers of people at the same time.  I think this is completely the wrong way to look at it.  And scholarship backs me up - as do traditional Buddhist teachings.  The idea of a historical narrative based on progressively evolving consciousness is a very western one.  Buddhists on the other hand would say that the Buddha taught all three approaches (as part of the 84,000 collections of dharmas) and that all that changed was their popularity which in turn is dependent on the kinds of obstacles and difficulties people are experiencing.  So the dharma being like medicine comes in a variety of pills and depending on the condition of the patients those 'pills' become more or less appropriate.

 

This suggests that all three expressions of Buddhism - hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana - were always present - and that the changes that occurred were gradual and not schismatic.  In support of this idea is the academic research:

 

Quote

 

For nearly two millennia, Buddhism has been divided into two major schools, Theravada and Mahayana. Scholars have viewed Theravada Buddhism as "original" and Mahayana as a divergent school that split away, but modern scholarship questions this perspective.

 

The precise origins of Mahayana Buddhism are something of a mystery. The historical record shows it emerging as a distinctive school during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE.

 

However, it had been developing gradually for a long time before that.

 

Historian Heinrich Dumoulin wrote that "Traces of Mahayana teachings appear already in the oldest Buddhist scriptures. Contemporary scholarship is inclined to view the transition of Mahayana as a gradual process hardly noticed by people at the time." [Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Vol. 1, India and China (Macmillan, 1994), p. 28]

https://www.thoughtco.com/origins-of-mahayana-buddhism-450007

 

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Interesting topic, but Buddhist masters seem to be pretty clear on this point. As Norbu describes below...

 

The third turning of the wheel of Dharma by Sakyamuni Buddha (following the first turning, based on the four noble truths, and the second turning, when he expounded the Prajnaparamita) embraces the sutras that expound the principle of tatliagatagarhha as the essence of enlightenment present in all beings.

- The Supreme Source

 

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48 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Interesting topic, but Buddhist masters seem to be pretty clear on this point. As Norbu describes below...

 

The third turning of the wheel of Dharma by Sakyamuni Buddha (following the first turning, based on the four noble truths, and the second turning, when he expounded the Prajnaparamita) embraces the sutras that expound the principle of tatliagatagarhha as the essence of enlightenment present in all beings.

- The Supreme Source

 

 

Exactly all expounded by the historical Buddha and thus contemporaneous.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

Exactly all expounded by the historical Buddha and thus contemporaneous.

 

 

 

I think you are misunderstanding the nature or "how" of the transmissions from Buddha with regards to the turnings. Once again from Norbu...

 

"The Dzogchen tantras and teachings he transmitted were subsequently introduced into Tibet during the first spread of Buddhism in the eighth century,"

- The Supreme Source

 

Buddha "transmits" (or teachings are found) when the world is ready for them. Additionally, it should be remembered that these are not all "oral" transmissions with Buddha talking to someone. Many are "direct" transmissions from him beyond time and space.

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

 

I think you are misunderstanding the nature or "how" of the transmissions from Buddha with regards to the turnings. Once again from Norbu...

 

"The Dzogchen tantras and teachings he transmitted were subsequently introduced into Tibet during the first spread of Buddhism in the eighth century,"

- The Supreme Source

 

Buddha "transmits" (or teachings are found) when the world is ready for them. Additionally, it should be remembered that these are not all "oral" transmissions with Buddha talking to someone. Many are "direct" transmissions from him beyond time and space.

 

 

I don't think I am - I assume the 'he' in Norbu's quote is Shakyamuni Buddha.

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6 hours ago, Apech said:

 

 

I don't think I am - I assume the 'he' in Norbu's quote is Shakyamuni Buddha.

 

No, here is a fuller description of the text...

 

Examination of the literature in Tibetan currently recently available reveals that the Dzogchen teaching existed in Tibet at least as early as the eighth century in both its great religious traditions: Buddhism and Bon. The Dzogchen of the Buddhist tradition derives from the teacher Garab Dorje of Oddiyana, a region that many scholars have identified as the Swat valley in Pakistan, once a flourishing center of Buddhism. The Dzogchen tantras and teachings he transmitted were subsequently introduced into Tibet during the first spread of Buddhism in the eighth century, and they still form part of the canon of the Nyingma or "ancient" tradition, the Nyingma Gyud Bum.

 

Here is a similar description of the concept of things waiting until the world is ready for them...

 

Yeshe Tsogyal wrote these oral instructions down in a secret code language called ‚Äúdakini script‚ÄĚ and concealed them as precious terma treasures to be revealed by tertons many centuries later. Guru Rinpoche himself predicted the arrival, names, and periods of the revealers. The teachings they would receive, in actuality or in visions, would be appropriate for the people in their own and in following generations. Almost every chapter in this book mentions that these teachings were given for the benefit of practitioners of future generations and includes the words: ‚ÄúMay this meet with all worthy and destined people in the future!

-Dakini Teachings

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

 

No, here is a fuller description of the text...

 

Examination of the literature in Tibetan currently recently available reveals that the Dzogchen teaching existed in Tibet at least as early as the eighth century in both its great religious traditions: Buddhism and Bon. The Dzogchen of the Buddhist tradition derives from the teacher Garab Dorje of Oddiyana, a region that many scholars have identified as the Swat valley in Pakistan, once a flourishing center of Buddhism. The Dzogchen tantras and teachings he transmitted were subsequently introduced into Tibet during the first spread of Buddhism in the eighth century, and they still form part of the canon of the Nyingma or "ancient" tradition, the Nyingma Gyud Bum.

 

Here is a similar description of the concept of things waiting until the world is ready for them...

 

Yeshe Tsogyal wrote these oral instructions down in a secret code language called ‚Äúdakini script‚ÄĚ and concealed them as precious terma treasures to be revealed by tertons many centuries later. Guru Rinpoche himself predicted the arrival, names, and periods of the revealers. The teachings they would receive, in actuality or in visions, would be appropriate for the people in their own and in following generations. Almost every chapter in this book mentions that these teachings were given for the benefit of practitioners of future generations and includes the words: ‚ÄúMay this meet with all worthy and destined people in the future!

-Dakini Teachings

 

 

 

 

 

I don't see how that makes any difference.  The things you are quoting are about the spread of a certain school of Buddhism into Tibet in 8th - 11th centuries.  This is not a turning of the wheel.

Edited by Apech
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6 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

No, here is a fuller description of the text...

 

Examination of the literature in Tibetan currently recently available reveals that the Dzogchen teaching existed in Tibet at least as early as the eighth century in both its great religious traditions: Buddhism and Bon.

 

 

 

 

The Dzogchen of the Bön tradition has been passed through 3 lineages - A-Tri, Draspa Korsum, and Zhangzhung Nyengyud.

The Zhangzhung Nyengyud is an unbroken, oral tradition (unlike all other Dzogchen traditions which have been lost or hidden and recovered through terma) dating back at least 24 generations before the 8th century. The Bönpos venerate two 8th century masters - Tapihritsa and, his student, Nangzher Lopo as the first to write down the oral teachings. Prior to the 24 masters of the oral tradition it is said to have been associated with 9 Buddhas. 

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15 hours ago, Apech said:

 

I don't see how that makes any difference.  The things you are quoting are about the spread of a certain school of Buddhism into Tibet in 8th - 11th centuries.  This is not a turning of the wheel.

 

Ok, so you do not consider Dzogchen a turning of the wheel? Yogacara was the last (currently highest) turning in your view?

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Just now, Jeff said:

 

Ok, so you do not consider Dzogchen a turning of the wheel? Yogacara was the last (currently highest) turning in your view?

 

 

The turnings of the wheel are Hinyana, Mahayana, Vajrayana - you might consider Dzogchen and Mahamudra as a kind of fourth way (some do) but it is still the same process.  Such that the original teaching approaches of the Buddha co-exist since he taught - but the emphasis changes over time (for some anyway) - this is the point of the OP in terms of gradual change which occurs to address people's 'sicknesses'.  I'm not saying there are no new sutras or terma texts and so on - they occur - but they are the uncovering or bringing to the foreground something that already exists - they are not some kind of evolution of consciousness etc.

 

Chinese monks who visited India found Hinayana and Mahayana practiced side by side in the same communities of monks.  All that happened is that a minority approach slowly grew to become the majority approach.

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23 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

The turnings of the wheel are Hinyana, Mahayana, Vajrayana - you might consider Dzogchen and Mahamudra as a kind of fourth way (some do) but it is still the same process.  Such that the original teaching approaches of the Buddha co-exist since he taught - but the emphasis changes over time (for some anyway) - this is the point of the OP in terms of gradual change which occurs to address people's 'sicknesses'.  I'm not saying there are no new sutras or terma texts and so on - they occur - but they are the uncovering or bringing to the foreground something that already exists - they are not some kind of evolution of consciousness etc.

 

Chinese monks who visited India found Hinayana and Mahayana practiced side by side in the same communities of monks.  All that happened is that a minority approach slowly grew to become the majority approach.

 

Definitely different turnings can exist side by side, but to me a turning is much more than just a different approach. With a turning of the wheel, there is an actual "potential" that is changed. More like a software upgrade that allows new methods (for those with the potential to use them). When Buddha first "realized", the world was in the first turning. As he expanded/integrated into that realization while being in the world, he effectively raised human potential (or allowed for new methods) in the world. This greater "refinement" (or deeper) realization can be easily seen in the older Hinayana definition of a Buddha as compared to the Mahayana definition which now had a Buddha level and an Arahat level (which was the old Hinayana definition). 

 

For me, a turning is actually a shift in the world (or you could say in the potential). A coming Buddha actually opens new paths and deepens the refinement of what is. Bringing more of what was previously "formless" into manifest "form" for the world. A full Buddha brings new "light" in and upgrades the world system.

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

 

Definitely different turnings can exist side by side, but to me a turning is much more than just a different approach. With a turning of the wheel, there is an actual "potential" that is changed. More like a software upgrade that allows new methods (for those with the potential to use them). When Buddha first "realized", the world was in the first turning. As he expanded/integrated into that realization while being in the world, he effectively raised human potential (or allowed for new methods) in the world. This greater "refinement" (or deeper) realization can be easily seen in the older Hinayana definition of a Buddha as compared to the Mahayana definition which now had a Buddha level and an Arahat level (which was the old Hinayana definition). 

 

For me, a turning is actually a shift in the world (or you could say in the potential). A coming Buddha actually opens new paths and deepens the refinement of what is. Bringing more of what was previously "formless" into manifest "form" for the world. A full Buddha brings new "light" in and upgrades the world system.

 

 

yes, I know that's what you think.  I am suggesting that what you are referring to is something else - and is actually non-dharmic.

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4 hours ago, Apech said:

 

 

yes, I know that's what you think.  I am suggesting that what you are referring to is something else - and is actually non-dharmic.

 

Maybe this will help with understanding how the turning of the wheel is part of the development of a Buddha, particularly one who goes through the merit door...

 

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Tang Dynasty
by
The¬†TripiŠĻ≠aka¬†Master¬†Praj√ĪńĀ¬†from Kophen

Fascicle 40 (of 40)

At that time Samantabhadra¬†Bodhisattva-MahńĀsattva, having praised¬†¬†TathńĀgatas‚Äô¬†merit, said to the¬†Bodhisattvas¬†and the youth Sudhana: ‚ÄúGood men, if¬†Buddhas¬†[in worlds] in the¬†ten directions¬†expound TathńĀgatas‚Äô merit continuously for as many¬†kalpas¬†as there are dust particles in innumerable Buddha Lands, they still can never finish their narrations. If one wants to go through this Merit Door, one should train in the ten great vowed actions. What are these ten?

First, make obeisance to Buddhas.
Second, praise TathńĀgatas.
Third, make expansive offerings.
Fourth, repent of karma, the cause of hindrances.
Fifth, express sympathetic joy over others’ merits.
Sixth, request Buddhas to turn the Dharma wheel.
Seventh, beseech Buddhas to abide in the world.
Eighth, always follow Buddhas to learn.
Ninth, forever support sentient beings.
Tenth, universally transfer all merits to others.‚ÄĚ
http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra21.html

Turning the wheel of Dharma, is a natural process of the formation of the dharmakaya. It is the manifest embodiment of helping all sentient beings.

Edited by Jeff

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

 

Maybe this will help with understanding how the turning of the wheel is part of the development of a Buddha, particularly one who goes through the merit door...

 

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Tang Dynasty
by
The¬†TripiŠĻ≠aka¬†Master¬†Praj√ĪńĀ¬†from Kophen

Fascicle 40 (of 40)

At that time Samantabhadra¬†Bodhisattva-MahńĀsattva, having praised¬†¬†TathńĀgatas‚Äô¬†merit, said to the¬†Bodhisattvas¬†and the youth Sudhana: ‚ÄúGood men, if¬†Buddhas¬†[in worlds] in the¬†ten directions¬†expound TathńĀgatas‚Äô merit continuously for as many¬†kalpas¬†as there are dust particles in innumerable Buddha Lands, they still can never finish their narrations. If one wants to go through this Merit Door, one should train in the ten great vowed actions. What are these ten?

First, make obeisance to Buddhas.
Second, praise TathńĀgatas.
Third, make expansive offerings.
Fourth, repent of karma, the cause of hindrances.
Fifth, express sympathetic joy over others’ merits.
Sixth, request Buddhas to turn the Dharma wheel.
Seventh, beseech Buddhas to abide in the world.
Eighth, always follow Buddhas to learn.
Ninth, forever support sentient beings.
Tenth, universally transfer all merits to others.‚ÄĚ
http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra21.html

Turning the wheel of Dharma, is a natural process of the formation of the dharmakaya. It is the manifest embodiment of helping all sentient beings.

  • ¬†

 

 

Turning the wheel of the dharma means teaching Buddhism 

 

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9 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

 

Turning the wheel of the dharma means teaching Buddhism 

 

 

Even for academics, turning the wheel means "new" teachings. Hence, the nature of the three teachings in the first place. Three different approaches relative to the capacity of the practioner. 

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3 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 

Even for academics, turning the wheel means "new" teachings. Hence, the nature of the three teachings in the first place. Three different approaches relative to the capacity of the practioner. 

 

 

From Op

 

"Historian Heinrich Dumoulin wrote that "Traces of Mahayana teachings appear already in the oldest Buddhist scriptures. Contemporary scholarship is inclined to view the transition of Mahayana as a gradual process hardly noticed by people at the time." [Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Vol. 1, India and China (Macmillan, 1994), p. 28]"

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7 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

 

From Op

 

"Historian Heinrich Dumoulin wrote that "Traces of Mahayana teachings appear already in the oldest Buddhist scriptures. Contemporary scholarship is inclined to view the transition of Mahayana as a gradual process hardly noticed by people at the time." [Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Vol. 1, India and China (Macmillan, 1994), p. 28]"

 

That is like saying traces of the concepts of the words of Jesus are found in ancient Jewish texts. Of course an academic would find some thread or trace connecting things. But, what Jesus taught was radically different than the teachings of the Old Testament. It was a major and dramatic shift (or turning :) ).

 

As I mentioned in an earlier text, anyone who is interested in the nature of the "shift", simply review the Buddhist difference between an early text Buddha (arhat) and a second turning one (and then later a third). You will easily see a huge shift of potential and ability for a Buddha to "help" sentient beings.

 

Thanks for the discussion. 

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48 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 

That is like saying traces of the concepts of the words of Jesus are found in ancient Jewish texts. Of course an academic would find some thread or trace connecting things. But, what Jesus taught was radically different than the teachings of the Old Testament. It was a major and dramatic shift (or turning :) ).

 

As I mentioned in an earlier text, anyone who is interested in the nature of the "shift", simply review the Buddhist difference between an early text Buddha (arhat) and a second turning one (and then later a third). You will easily see a huge shift of potential and ability for a Buddha to "help" sentient beings.

 

Thanks for the discussion. 

 

 

The comparison between New and Old Testament is false.  There is no comparable new teacher or teachings in Dharma.  This where we diverge.  The application of this kind of analysis from Judeo-Christian thought is why the understanding of the dharma in the west is weakened.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

The comparison between New and Old Testament is false.  There is no comparable new teacher or teachings in Dharma.  This where we diverge.  The application of this kind of analysis from Judeo-Christian thought is why the understanding of the dharma in the west is weakened.

 

 

It was just an analogy, no need to extrapolate to the entire west. :)

 

So then I assume that you are saying that the first, second and third turnings all say exactly the same thing? No difference at all in relevative capacity (or potential) and hence it is even silly to talk about "turnings" in the first place?

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

 

It was just an analogy, no need to extrapolate to the entire west. :)

 

So then I assume that you are saying that the first, second and third turnings all say exactly the same thing? No difference at all in relevative capacity (or potential) and hence it is even silly to talk about "turnings" in the first place?

 

 

When did I say anything like that Jeff?  I've been quite clear in what I said and it actually accords with both dharma teachings and the current academic understanding.

 

Just to recap.  The Mahayana did not appear as a new revelation but was there from the beginning but practiced by a minority of monks (even though in the same sangha as those practicing Hinayana).  Later it became more popular because its approach was found to benefit beings and in North India became the predominant type of Buddhist practice.  Even though there were teachers who clarified this view such as Nagarjuna it was not a new revelation.  The third turning of the wheel was similarly understood to have been taught by the Buddha but reserved for a select group of students and transmitted on gaining popularity in such schools as Yogacara.  So from the Buddhist point of view - where they speak of the three turning of the wheel - the whole point is that they are teachings of the Buddha - part of a variety of ways in which he communicated and taught his awakening to his followers.

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

When did I say anything like that Jeff?  I've been quite clear in what I said and it actually accords with both dharma teachings and the current academic understanding.

 

Just to recap.  The Mahayana did not appear as a new revelation but was there from the beginning but practiced by a minority of monks (even though in the same sangha as those practicing Hinayana).  Later it became more popular because its approach was found to benefit beings and in North India became the predominant type of Buddhist practice.  Even though there were teachers who clarified this view such as Nagarjuna it was not a new revelation.  The third turning of the wheel was similarly understood to have been taught by the Buddha but reserved for a select group of students and transmitted on gaining popularity in such schools as Yogacara.  So from the Buddhist point of view - where they speak of the three turning of the wheel - the whole point is that they are teachings of the Buddha - part of a variety of ways in which he communicated and taught his awakening to his followers.

 

 

So historically, Buddha taught all methods the same right from the beginning of his awakening? What about the 4th turning, did Buddha teach that too right from the beginning? 

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24 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 

So historically, Buddha taught all methods the same right from the beginning of his awakening? What about the 4th turning, did Buddha teach that too right from the beginning? 

 

 

Different to different people.  The dharma changes according to its audience and not in itself.

 

As I said before - the whole point of calling them turnings of the wheel is to identify the teachings as teachings of the Buddha.

 

And definitely he would have taught something equivalent to Dzogchen.

 

The turnings of the wheel are not some kind rejigging of minds, changes in the levels or breadth of consciousness or whatever words you may wish to choose.

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1 hour ago, Apech said:

 

 

Different to different people.  The dharma changes according to its audience and not in itself.

 

As I said before - the whole point of calling them turnings of the wheel is to identify the teachings as teachings of the Buddha.

 

And definitely he would have taught something equivalent to Dzogchen.

 

The turnings of the wheel are not some kind rejigging of minds, changes in the levels or breadth of consciousness or whatever words you may wish to choose.

 

Any of the Historians that you follow have any examples of Buddha teaching something like Dzogchen at the time when he was living? Possibly any sutra (or teaching) anywhere that supports your view/position?

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6 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

Any of the Historians that you follow have any examples of Buddha teaching something like Dzogchen at the time when he was living? Possibly any sutra (or teaching) anywhere that supports your view/position?

 

I'm not sure why you are focussing on Dzogchen as this is (as far as Buddhism is concerned) a sub-set of Nyingmapa teachings and thus generally speaking a Mahayana teaching.  However the Dalai Lama himself who is a scholar of Buddhism has shown a link for Dzogchen back through Madhyamaka traditions to sutra - here is a brief summary of that position:

Quote

 

The Vajrayana, The Tibetan Buddhist Mahayana vehicle consists of the Kagyu, Sakya and

Gelug Schools and are referred to as the New Translation Tantra Schools (Sarma) that developed

after the translations of Rinchen Sangpo (958-1055), during the time of Atisha and Marpa.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has shown that the view and basic structure of these schools are

essentially the same as the Indian Middle Way Consequence School (Madhyamaka Prasangika)

of Nagarjuna (second century), Chandrakirti (7th century), and Tsongkhapa (14th century) is

considered to be the epistemic foundation of the Nyingma School's nondual Dzogchen, the

Great Perfection. H.H. the Dalai Lama has refered to the great Prasangika Middle Way teaching

as “that perfect harmony between the teachings on emptiness (Madhyamaka), and the teachings

on the clear light (Yogachara).‚ÄĚ This sutra school evolved from Nagarjuna‚Äôs 2nd Century

Madhyamaka (Uma), the great Mahayana development stage teaching of the Two Truths (relative-empirical

and absolute or ultimate) that grew from the ancient Pali Canon (The Tripitaka,

4th Century B.C.E.) that continued the august tradition of the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta‚ÄĒ

the Sanatana Dharma or Hindu religious complex in which Buddhism arose.

 

 

 

The text then goes on to say:

 

Quote

The Triyana: three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma are one path. Shakyamuni (Gautama Siddhartha) the historical Buddha (circa 566-486 B.C.E.) transmitted exoteric/outer, esoteric/inner, and highest nondual or greater esoteric (‚Äúinnermost secret‚ÄĚ) teaching for followers and disciples of different levels of understanding. The mahasiddhas of our great Perennial Wisdom Tradition have generally taught in this exoteric/esoteric ‚Äútwo ways at once.‚ÄĚ The teachings of the Buddha are usually classified into The Three Vehicles (yanas) of Enlightenment‚ÄĒThe Triyana. These ‚ÄúThree Turnings‚ÄĚ present one dharma or one path with differing views. We need the ‚Äúright view‚ÄĚ for our present lifestage understanding. On the accord of the Mahayana, the Three Turnings of the Dharmachakra‚ÄĒbroadly construed‚ÄĒrepresent the 3 Buddha's teaching on 1) the Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path of the Foundational Vehicle; 2) The Mayayana emptiness and Buddha Nature; 3) The Vajrayana Vehicle. Thus the Three Vehicles include the Foundational Vehicle or the Hinayana (Sautrantika and Vaibhashika tenet systems) of the Pali School that flourishes today in Southeast Asia alongside the Theravada, and throughout the world in Shojo Zen of both the Soto and Rinzai schools; the Mahayana or Great Vehicle (the Causal Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas or Bodhisattvayana) of India, China and Japan (Daijo and non-dual Saijojo zen), and includes the Emptiness of Madhyamaka and the Buddha Nature of the Yogachara (Chittamatra/Mind Only) tenet systems; and finally the Vajrayana or Diamond Vehicle, the Tibetan translation and transmission of the Mahayana. This is Buddha‚Äôs third turning of the Wheel of the Dharma. It includes the subtlest tantric teachings, Dzogchen and Essence Mahamudra. The Foundational, so called Hinayana holds that there is only one turning of the Wheel of Dharma.

 

My point above is that western scholars have now, or are beginning to realise that the interpretation of the historical narrative of the development of say Mahayana, is not a split or schism but a reemphasis of something that was already there - and thus more closely accords with Buddhism's own account that all three turnings of the wheel are the exposition of the Buddha's original teachings and arise because the 'audience' of people living in different social conditions and cultures and with different personal karmic tendencies had changed.  So that teachings which were formally esoteric became popularised in order to benefit sentient beings.  And that this happened gradually and did not comprise some kind of shift or change in the world or level of consciousness of beings and so on.

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Buddha's teachings are assimilated/ understood/distilled based on individual merit. So the 4 noble truths may for some practitioners be seen as outdated and too rudimentary, while for some others it's seen as the essence of the very heart of Dzogchen itself. This is clearly exemplified in the flower sutra. 

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