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Four attributes of true paths

12 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Examining the suffering arising from having wrong views
  • Wisdom directly realizing selflessness
  • Path, suitable, accomplishment, way of deliverance
  • Misconceptions refuted by the four attributes
  • No path, wisdom is not a path, worldly paths eliminate afflictions
  • Afflictions can regenerate and not completely eliminated
  • Seeing that ignorance is behind the afflictions
  • Four truths also don’t exist inherently
  • Grasping at inherent existence leads to emotional reactions
  • Importance of understanding true duhkha

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 12: Four Attributes of True Paths (download)

Contemplation points

  1. The views we hold can really influence how we feel. How can thinking about death and preparing our mind for being separated from those we care about enable us to feel peace in the midst of loss?
  2. Consider: How does grasping at things in the way they appear to us (but don’t actually exist) give rise to the afflictions?
  3. What eradicates ignorance completely and how can you work towards that?
  4. What is the benefit of contemplating the true paths?
  5. What motivates you to engage in the path?
  6. Why can liberation occur?
  7. Reflect:
  • Contemplate that true duhkha – everything produced by afflictions and polluted karma – lacks any inherent existence.
  • Contemplate that all duhkha as well as the origins of duhkha depend on causes. Because they are dependent and do not exist under their own power, true duhkha and true origins lack independent essence.
  • Contemplate the four attributes of true cessation. Abide in the certainty that nirvana- a lasting state of peace and joy – can be attained, and let your mind be imbued with the optimism that brings.
  • Contemplate that true paths are also conditioned phenomena that depend on other factors. They too do not exist from their own side and thus are empty of inherent existence.
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.