How to listen to the Dharma

01 The Foundation of Buddhist Practice

Part of a series of teachings given during a retreat based on the book The Foundation of Buddhist Practice given at Sravasti Abbey.

  • Introduction to the “Library of Wisdom and Compassion”
  • Overview of the topics of Foundation of Buddhist Practice
  • Buddhist science, philosophy and religion
  • The value of learning the dharma
  • The three faulty pots
  • The four seals

The Foundation of Buddhist Practice 01: Introduction and overview (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Venerable Chodron encourages us to read ahead, make notes of the important points during a teaching, and then take time to study them. Why is this so vital to studying the Dharma and growing in our practice?
  2. Consider the verses from the Jataka Tales and how learning the Dharma is even better than all the worldly things we pursue. Take time with this, really internalizing how powerful the teachings could be (or have been) in your life. What other worldly things do you pursue that might not be mentioned in these verses? What makes the Dharma more valuable than these as well? How does thinking of the teachings in this way inspire your mind to continue studying?
  3. Go over the definitions of the three faulty vessels and check to see if you are like them: an upside down pot, a leaky pot, and a filthy pot. How might being like these pots hinder your spiritual practice? Give personal examples of them at work in your life. What can you do to begin overcoming these tendencies?
  4. Explain the first of the four seals (all conditioned phenomena are transient) in your own words. Make examples of coarse and subtle change from your own experience. Why is coarse change not possible without subtle change?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.