For New Visitors

And Those New To The Buddha’s Direct Teachings

Greetings Friends,

If you are a new visitor to my website or a practicing Buddhist beginning to develop an understanding of the direct teachings of the Buddha, 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.

Sitewide, all Blue Text are links (except here). As far as navigating this site, the links on the home page beginning with the Nagara Sutta 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 Becoming-Buddha.com 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.

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

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.”

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 own early difficulties in understanding this 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

It is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that underlies all confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing stress and suffering. This is what the Buddha awakened to and described in the PatticaSamuppada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination.

His very first teaching, known as a “discourse,” teaches the truth of how stress and suffering follows ignorance of Four Noble Truths and how the Eightfold Path develops emptiness of this initial ignorance and profound wisdom of the true nature of human life.

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

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

As your meditation practice continues it will prove helpful to learn what the Buddha taught as the purpose and results of a proper Shamatha-Vipassana meditation practice: Shamatha-Vipassana Meditation, Samadhi, and Jhanas.

The Satipatthana Sutta initially teaches the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This is the foundation that Shamatha-Vipassana 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.

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 and 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 insight into what follows from ignorance of Four Noble Truths. This specific insight brings direct understanding of “Three Marks of Existence.” This term is used to show that all human beings carry this “mark.” The Three Marks of Existence describe the common experience and underlying problem of human life lived in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. These Three Marks are “Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha” – Impermanence, Not-Self, and Stress and Suffering. Once you have developed a foundation through the first six articles listed on the Home Page, the next area of study can continue here: Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha articles and talks

Metta is a word that means “goodwill” or “loving-kindness” and incorporating Metta Intentional Meditation can be a great support in putting aside harsh judgments of self and others and assist in calming your mind. Metta can be practiced in addition to shamatha-vipassana.

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.

Here are talks and a video that introduces the Buddha’s direct teachings and includes a brief history of the Buddha and sangha discussion: Introduction to the Dhamma

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.

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 Becoming-Biddha.com

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 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.

Peace,
John Haspel

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 Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland and Maurice Walsh, 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 contextual edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

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