The Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma
(Tib: Chos 'khor rim pa gsum)
Below is an extract from the teaching Geshe Dorji Damdul gave on Mulamadyamikakarika Class-1 in August 2014 at Tibet House. The extract relates to the Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. It has been updated with the Geshe la's online teaching on June 4, 2022 at Nalanda Certificate Course-1.
In the first turning of the wheel of Dharma at Sarnath, Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths. He said everything exist objectively. The target audiences were the followers of the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika schools.
In the second turning of the wheel of Dharma at Rajgirh, Buddha taught Emptiness. Here he said there is no objective existence, everything exist subjectively. The target audiences here were the followers of the Madhyamika school.
In the third turning of the wheel of Dharma at Vaishali, Buddha taught the mind only school, where the contradiction in the first and the second turning of the wheel of Dharma was dispelled. The target audiences here were the follower of the Chittamatra school.When Buddha was asked about the contradiction, he said that all phenomena existence or non-existence that comes to our mind can be categorized into three natures:
- Imputed Nature
- Other powered Nature
- Thoroughly Established Nature
All existence phenomena can be of 1) Permanent and 2) Impermanent nature. Permanent phenomena can be divided into: 1) Emptiness and, 2) Permanent Phenomena other than emptiness.
Impermanent phenomena are synonymous with Other Powered Nature; and Emptiness is synonymous with Thoroughly Established Nature. The objective existence of all phenomena that Buddha taught is about the Impermanent [Other powered Nature] and Emptiness [Thoroughly Established Nature], because Impermanence and Emptiness are objectively true.
Non-existence Phenomena and Phenomena Other than Emptiness are all of Imputed Nature and they exist subjectively. This was how Buddha taught the existence and non-existence of phenomena subjectively and objectively.
Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering; the cause of suffering; the cessation of suffering; and the path leading to the enlightenment. In the second turning of the wheel, Buddha taught to explain in detail about the Third Noble Truth, i.e. the Cessation of Suffering.
In the third turning of the wheel of Dharma, Buddha taught to explain the Fourth Noble Truth, i.e. the Path leading to the cessation of suffering. That path is the mind, the subtle clear light mind to achieve enlightenment.
Note/Disclaimer: It is a student's note only. There may be error or misinterpretation. A serious student should reach Geshe la's teachings at the Tibet House. རང་གི་ཡིད་ལ་སྒོམ་ཕྱིར་ངས་འདི་བྲིས། I write this just for my memory and learning.