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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 41 W ITH GREAT COMPASSION and incomparable skill, the enlightened master Bud- dha Shakyamuni taught in any way that would lead beings on a correct path to liberation and, finally, to buddhahood. Sometimes the Buddha taught in a way that led his disciples gradually to an understanding of the absolute nature of reality, and in these situations, he taught about relative reality first. At other times he taught the ultimate nature directly and explicitly. Over the course of his forty-five years of teaching, the Buddha turned the wheel of dharma three times, initiating new cycles of teachings for the benefit of sentient beings. These three turnings are commonly known as the dharmachakra (“dharma wheel”) of the four noble truths, the dharmachakra of essencelessness or non-characteristics, and the dharmachakra of full or thorough distinction. The first turning of the wheel of dharma took place in Deer Park at Sarnath, not long after the Buddha’s enlightenment. At this time, Buddha presented teachings on the four noble truths, karma, and the selflessness of the person. These teachings form the basis for what is called the The Dzogchen PonloP RinPoche on The Three Turnings What the Buddha Taught The Buddha taught not to establish a theology or philosophical system but to liberate beings from their suffering. So he offered not a single statement of truth but a progression of teachings appropriate to people’s differing needs, capabilities, and places on the spiritual path. THE DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE surveys some of Buddhism’s most important principles according to the Tibetan system that classifies the Buddha’s teachings into three turnings of the wheel of dharma.