While listening to teachings, one should have
four positive thoughts. One should consider the:
1. Teacher as doctor,
2. Student as patient,
3. Dharma as medicine and
4. Delusion as sickness.
One should also give up pride. Thoughts like "I'm better than the teacher" or "I'm better than everyone else" must be given up. Furthermore, strong devotion and faith are like the legs to walk and hands to accumulate virtue. Without strong devotion there is no attainment. Of course one needs to have interest in the Dharma first before one can start to learn anything.
The mind should be kept free from distractions. Keep it from going wild in the ten directions at the same time. The body is like a prison while the mind is like a wolf running wild from mountain to mountain. Laziness, boredom, sloth and indolence are a few hindrances to practice. One should always listen to the Dharma with joy and happiness. The Dharma is the antidote to our poisons.
The Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel for the first time at Varanasi. There he taught the Hinayana teachings of renunciation. It is there that he taught the Four Noble Truths. Later, the Buddha again turned the Dharma Wheel. This is the second turning and it occurred on Vulture Peak. On Vulture Peak, the Buddha taught the Prajñápáramitá teachings of emptiness (shunyata). This is the Mahayana. Finally, the Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel for the third time. This time he gave the Tathagata-garbha (Buddha-nature) teachings. These teachings were given so that sentient beings won't fall into the false teaching of nihilism (which can result from misunderstanding shunyata as absolute nothingness)
. The Mahayana can be further divided into Sutra-yana and Tantra0yana (or Vajrayâna). So, we have the three yanas (vehicles) - Hinayana, Sutra-yana Mahayana and Tantra-yana Mahayana. All three vehicles were taught according to the capacities of beings. They are all useful and inseparable. For example, a baby without teeth will choke when it is given solid food. So, a good parent slowly introduces different food to the baby according to its capacity in digesting them.
Vajrayâna can be divided into kriya-tantra, carya-tantra, yoga-tantra and anuttarayoga-tantra. In the anuttarayoga tantra class, there are three further sub-division. They are the father-tantra, mother-tantra and non-dual tantra. The four tantras (kriya, carya, yoga and anuttarayoga) are similar to gazing, smiling, touching and union respectively. These four antidotes are the four tantras.
Empowerment (wang) and practice are important in Vajrayâna. Traditionally, one cannot practice without first receiving the proper empowerments.
The difference between the Buddha Dharma and non-Buddha Dharma is that there is Refuge in Buddha Dharma but there is no Refuge in non-Buddha Dharma. The difference between Mahayana and Hinayana is that Mahayana has bodhicitta mind while Hinayana don't. Finally, the difference between Vajrayâna and Mahayana (Sutra-yana) is that Vajrayâna has empowerments while Mahayana don't.
There were eight different Buddhist schools in Tibet but only four main ones are left today. They are the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. All these schools have lam-rim practice (graduated path to enlightenment).
The Kagyu school originated from Dorje-chang (Vajradhara Buddha) and was first transmitted to Tilopa. Tilopa in turn taught Naropa. And Naropa was the teacher of the Tibetan householder-translator Marpa. Marpa's most famous disciple was the ascetic Milarepa. Milarepa in turn transmitted the Kagyu lineage to the monk Gampopa. Gampopa had many disciples and one of them was Phagmo Drukpa. Gampopa's immediate disciples started the different Kagyu lineages. It was Phagmo Drukpa's disciple, Lord Jigten Sumgon (also known as Ratna Shri) who started the Drikung-Kagyu lineage. Among the various Kagyu lineages, only four lineages are active. They are the Drikung, Karma, Talung and Drukpa.