Introduction To The Buddha’s Dhamma


For New Visitors And Those New To The Dirsat Teachings Of The Buddha

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Site-wide, all Blue Text are links (except here). As far as navigating this site, the links on the home page beginning with The Noble Search For The Noble Path and concluding with the Anapanasati Sutta will provide a thorough and profound overview of an awakened human being’s Dhamma. Please take your time in reading and listening to this material. When engaged with gentle determination, you will quickly deepen concentration and begin to develop a calm and peaceful mind. Over time, you will develop refined mindfulness supporting the integration of the Eightfold Path leading to ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths and becoming “Rightly Self-Awakened.”

On nearly every page of this website is a drop-down menu that has the articles and talks on listed by subject. Click on “Dhamma Articles and Talks BySubject” to further your study of the Buddha’s Dhamma by individual subject. There is also a Search bar at the bottom of every page.

There are talks and a video below that introduce the Buddha’s direct teachings including a brief history of the Buddha and sangha discussion.

Introduction To A Buddha’s Dhamma

If you are a new visitor to my website or a practicing Buddhist beginning to develop an understanding of what the Buddha actually taught, let me tell you what you can find here. The entire focus of my teaching is on the Buddha’s Dhamma as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the  Pali Canon.

Siddartha Gotama, a human being, left his life of luxury, wealth, privilege, and power at the age of twenty-nine seeking understanding of the cause of human disappointment, discontent and conflict.

Over the next six years, through his own effort, Siddartha developed a profound understanding that ignorance of Four Noble Truths is the initiating condition that all manner of individual craving, aversion, confusion, conflict, and ongoing stress and suffering are dependent on.

This understanding is taught by the Buddha in the Paticasamupadda Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination, and many others. [1]

Siddartha’s very first teaching was the Dhammaccakkappavatana Sutta, the sutta that established the Four Noble Truths as the foundation and overarching context of his Dhamma. [2]

The Fourth Noble Truth is the truth of the only path an awakened human being taught for ending ignorance

and for developing profound wisdom – the Noble Eightfold Path. [3]

Every teaching the Buddha presented during his forty-five-year teaching career was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. The Eightfold Path develops profound introspective insight into, and release from, the common human condition arising from ignorance of Four Noble Truths described as Three Marks Of Existence. [4]

The Three Marks Of Existence are impermanence (Pali/Sanskrit: Anicca), Not-Self (Pali/Sanskrit: Anatta), and ongoing stress and suffering (Pali/Sanskrit: Dukkha).

The intended purpose of the Buddha’s entire teaching career is to resolve ignorance through vipassana – introspective insight. Rather than a popular hybrid meditation method, vipassana in the context pf the Buddha’s Dhamma is introspective insight into the clinging relationship between impermanent phenomena and individual ignorance and the stress and suffering that follows. [5]

What The Buddha Taught – What The Buddha Did Not Teach

Much of modern Buddhism relies on adaptations, accommodations, and embellishments to the Buddha’s original teachings that often contradict what an awakened human being taught. This leads to further confusion, deluded thinking, distraction, and continued stress and suffering. If you have found modern Buddhist teachings somewhat irrelevant, difficult to understand, or practically apply and integrate into your life, you will find the Buddha’s direct teachings entirely relevant, easily accessible, and immediately practical.

The Pali Canon is a collection of three books. The first book is the Vinaya Pitaka. A very simplistic explanation of this book is that it covers rules for monastic life and behavior in general, as well as background on the development of moral and ethical aspects of Buddhism.

The third book is the Abhidhamma. This book was added to the Canon well after the Buddha’s passing. It is used to establish a mystical and magical blanket over the Buddha’s teachings allowing for convenient speculative conclusions that were never intended by the Buddha.

It is the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon, that preserves an authentic account of the forty-five-year teaching career of this extraordinary man. An article and recorded talks on the authenticity of the Pali  Canon and the remarkable story of how authenticity has been maintained is here: The Pali Canon.  Included in this article is an explanation of how the many modern Buddhist “religions” developed.

An article and recorded talks on the results of the license taken with the Buddha’s teachings since his passing is here: Modern Buddhism – A Thicket of Views

A Practical, Direct And Consistent Dhamma

The Pali Canon is a somewhat difficult read. What does become apparent after a careful study is the consistency of the Buddha’s teachings and how every teaching the Buddha ever presented was presented in the context of Four Noble Truths. When this is held in mind even the more obscure or seemingly difficult to apply teachings become useful and applicable.

The Buddha consistently describes his deeply profound teachings in very simple terms: “I teach the arising of suffering and the cessation of suffering, nothing more.” (See “Paradox and the Dhamma)

Buddhism is often characterized as pessimistic or nihilistic. This view is a wrong view rooted in ignorance of the purpose and scope of the Buddha’s Dhamma. The Buddha taught that by understanding suffering and its origination anyone could abandon self-created confusion, delusion, and suffering and develop a life of lasting peace and happiness. The Buddha describes the process of ending ignorance and developing a profound understanding of the true nature of human life as becoming ”Rightly Self-Awakened.”

What I Discovered

I struggled for many years, becoming increasingly frustrated and confused about “Buddhism,” until I found the Suttas and studied only what the Buddha taught as a path, an Eightfold Path. Here is an article that describes my early difficulties in modern Buddhism and how it became clear that the Buddha was a most compassionate thinker informed by true wisdom: The Buddha Taught Happiness

If you would like to learn more about me and my understanding, here is my biography: About John Haspel

What Siddartha Gotama Discovered

Siddartha Gotama discovered the Noble Eightfold Path through his own search for understanding. Here is an article that describes the importance to recognize and abandon ignoble searches that lead to more ignorance: The Noble Search For The Noble Path

The Buddha, finally engaging in a Noble Search, discovered a Timeless Eightfold Path to end all confusion, deluded thinking, and self-inflicted suffering.

The Buddha’s Only Meditation Method

Jhana meditation is the meditation method the Buddha taught as the eighth factor of the Eightfold Path. Practiced within the framework of the Eightfold Path, Jhana meditation will develop a tranquil and well-concentrated mind supporting the refined mindfulness necessary to integrate the Eightfold Path into one’s life.

The Buddha taught meditation for a single purpose – to increase concentration. [6]

Instructions for beginning a Jhana meditation practice and guided Jhana meditations of varying lengths are here: Jhana Meditation

The Four Foundations Of Useful Mindfulness

The Satipatthana Sutta initially teaches the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This is the foundation that Jhana meditation rests upon. This foundation provides the direction to recognize and abandon distracting feelings and thoughts which supports deepening concentration. This is the primary purpose of meditation as the Buddha teaches meditation. The balance of the Satipatthana Sutta explains what to hold in mind, what to be mindful of, as concentration increases and understanding of the Buddha’s Dhamma becomes integrated.

An Example Of Authentic Dhamma Practice

The Anapanasati Sutta is a sutta where the Buddha uses the example of accomplished Monks to describe the results of a properly integrated Dhamma practice.

You may have heard the word “Insight” with regard to Buddhism. Most modern Buddhist practices teach a very broad and overly analytical form of insight  lacking the context, guidance, and purpose of Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. This often encourages further distraction and avoids addressing ignorance of these Four Truths.

The Buddha’s Dhamma develops specific introspective insight into what follows from ignorance of Four Noble Truths. This specific insight brings direct understanding of “Three Marks of Existence.”

Important Considerations For Dhamma Practice

The Buddha consistently and often emphasized the importance of wise associations in developing his Dhamma. Here is an article on the singular importance as a Dhamma practitioner of associating with others who actually developed the Buddha’s Dhamma and remain well-focused on the Dhamma: An Admirable Sangha

A group of like-minded meditators, a sangha, well-focused on the Buddha’s original teachings, will prove to be an invaluable support. All conditioned views will eventually fall away from a mind gently focused in the present guided by the framework of the Eightfold Path.

If you are in the Frenchtown, New Jersey area, please join us at one of our weekly classes. Additional information on my weekly classes is here: Weekly Classes

My classes from Cross River MeditationCenter in Frenchtown New Jersey are streamed live and recorded. Here is information on my streaming and recorded classes: Streaming Video Classes and Becoming Buddha Podcast.

If you would like to deepen your understanding through individual instruction there is additional information on individual instruction in Frenchtown New Jersey here: Individual Instruction

You can be notified of our classes, retreats and the posting of new articles and recordings by subscribing to our newsletter.

Information on my book Becoming Buddha – Becoming Awakened and a ten-week personal Dhamma study and correspondence course, The Truth of Happiness,  is here: John’s Books.

If you find this website helpful in developing your understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, please consider a donation to help support the cost in time and money to maintain our online sangha: Support John and

Finally, if you are new to Dhamma practice or are re-establishing your practice, take your time, be gentle with yourself and your practice. There are difficulties that arise in developing an understanding of the Four Noble Truths and they are all difficulties rooted in ignorance and impermanence. Here is an article an talk on When Dhamma Practice is Stressful.

Please feel free to contact me through the email form with any questions or comments. The email form is also linked on the top menu.

John Haspel

Introduction To The Dhamma Talks (Click For Talks)

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.


Creative Commons License and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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