Sentient beings have many different capacities for spiritual understanding and practice. For this reason, out of his compassion, Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings at many levels, just as a skillful doctor administers a variety of remedies to treat different types of sick people.
Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings at many levels, just as a skillful doctor administers a variety of remedies to treat different types of sick people.
Different Levels of Teachings
For those who wish merely to attain human happiness Buddha gave teachings revealing actions and their effects, or karma; and he taught moral discipline as their main practice. For those who wish to experience the permanent inner peace of liberation, or nirvana, for themselves alone, Buddha gave teachings on the faults of samsara; and he taught the three higher trainings – training in higher moral discipline, training in higher concentration, and training in higher wisdom – as their main practice. For those who wish to attain the ultimate goal of full enlightenment Buddha gave teachings on the development of great compassion and bodhichitta; and he taught the six perfections – the perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, mental stabilization, and wisdom – as their main practice.
Common and Uncommon Paths
All these teachings are open to anyone who wishes to study and practise them. The experiences that are gained from practising them are called the `common spiritual paths’. Besides these teachings, Buddha also gave teachings on Tantra. These may be practised only by those who have received Tantric empowerments. The experiences gained by practising these teachings are called the `uncommon spiritual paths’.