What The Buddha Taught And Why

Welcome To Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center

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Introduction To The Buddha’s Dhamma – Noble Searches

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• What The Buddha Taught And Why

• Why We Teach Only The Buddha’s Dhamma

• What The Buddha Did Not Teach And Why

• How To Practice and Develop a Buddha’s Dhamma

Greetings. I am John Haspel. Beginning in 1981 I practiced Buddhism within the many modern dharmas and lineages. This proved confusing, distracting, and disappointing.  Out of this self-created Dukkha, influenced by modern Buddhism-By-Common-Agreement, I turned to the Pali Canon. Studying the canon, specifically, the second book of the Canon, the Sutta Pitaka, brought a truly life-changing understanding. Since the turn of the last century, I have been studying, practicing, and restoring to their original intent and focus the Buddha’s Dhamma as preserved in the  Sutta Pitaka. For the past 12 years, I have been teaching what I discovered in these suttas. My complete bio is linked in the Top Menu.

Throughout Becoming-Buddha.com all Blue Text are links to related suttas, articles, or Dhamma class recordings for further Dhamma study. It will be most effective in developing this profoundly life-changing Dhamma to read this page through, perhaps a few times, and then follow the links provided.

The Buddha often emphasized the requirement to “Ehipassiko”; to “Come and see for yourself.” This direct experience of awakening, developing full human maturity, is found in The Eightfold Path. This path is a gentle and direct path to human awakening or full human maturity. Take your time, practice Right Effort and the other seven factors of this path and you will reap the immediate benefits of Siddartha Gotama’s Dhamma. Please feel free to contact me anytime via the contact form linked at the top of each page. You can also contact our other Dhamma Teachers here: BBCRMC Dhamma Teachers 

Siddartha Gotama Discovers a Clear and Direct Path to a Calm and Peaceful Mind

Approximately two thousand six hundred years ago a human being, Siddhartha Gotama, realized a profound and penetrative path to understanding the cause and underlying condition of all human discontent, stress, and disappointing life experiences: Ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Upon this realization, at the age of thirty-five, this once-wealthy and powerful Prince donned robes made of discarded rags and began teaching others to become Rightly Self-Awakened precisely as he had – through an Eightfold Path.

In the Sikkha Sutta The Buddha described this path as a three-factored path as he addressed those gathered:

“Friends, there are three trainings that I teach. I teach training in heightened virtue. I teach training in heightened concentration. I teach training in heightened wisdom. 

“The training in heightened virtue brings restraint in speech, actions, and livelihood. This Dhamma practitioner remains pure in their behavior at all times.

“They train themselves following these rules of behavior and understand the danger of even the slightest deviation.”

The Sikkha Sutta teaches that the Eightfold Path is a path that incorporates the three aspects of training necessary for becoming Rightly Self-Awakened as the Buddha instructs. The Eightfold Path is a path directly developing heightened virtue, heightened concentration, and heightened wisdom.

The factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened virtue are Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood.

The Factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened concentration are Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation.

The factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened wisdom are Right View and Right Intention.

As a complete path to awakening, the wise Dhamma practitioner gains a profound and penetrative understanding of the nature of stress and suffering and establishes a calm and peaceful mind. This unique and direct path provides a most-skillful limit on what understanding is developed and what false and fabricated views are to be recognized and gently abandoned. 

The fourth of these Noble Truths is the Truth of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is the Eightfold Path is the sole path taught by this Rightfly-Self-Awakened human being. This path and these truths first presented approximately 2,600 years ago, maintain profound and direct relevance to all those seeking to understand the true nature of this human life:

“Friends, what is the noble truth of stress and suffering?

  • Birth is stressful.
  • Sickness is stressful.
  • Aging is stressful.
  • Death is stressful.
  • Sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair are all stressful.
  • Not getting what is desired is stressful.
  • Receiving what is undesired is stressful.
  • In short, the Five-Clinging-Aggregates are stressful.”

Everything the Buddha taught was and is taught in the over-arching context of Dependent Origination and the resolution to the stress and discontent described in Dependent Origination: Four Noble Truths.

What We Teach and Why

Becoming-Buddha.com has more than 300 Suttas, restored by John to their original intent and focus: Ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths.  Suttas are Dhamma teachings of Siddhartha Gotama, as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon.

In addition to the restored suttas, there are over 600 videos and 800 audio recordings based on the original and direct teachings of an awakened human being. The recordings are from our Dhamma classes from Cross River Meditation Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey, and, in recent years, live-streamed. Information on our center and Dhamma classes is linked above.

I have structured Becoming-Buddha.com to support developing the Buddha’s Dhamma as he intended. The Buddha often said “Ehipassiko” which means “Come and See For Yourself.” The Buddha’s Dhamma is to be directly experienced through your own Right Efforts. The Buddha’s Dhamma is not rooted in magical fabrications or mystical speculations. It cannot be “transferred” magically from one confused mind to another.

Understanding Four Noble Truths cannot be developed through distracting rituals, magical endowments across non-physical “realms,” dutiful chanting, or grasping-after salvation through pleading, hoarding “merit,” or painful deprivations.

The Buddha’s Dhamma avoids any fabricated “dharma” that would distract one from what is occurring in life as life occurs. Speculative and fabricated modern “dharmas” can only distract from and further ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Any practice whose resolution or culmination is in a non-physical realm or realms of emptiness or nothingness are not taught by this awakened human being.

Becoming-Buddha.com is organized for study and practice while also providing an opportunity to join a well-informed and well-focused sangha either in person at our center ifnFrtenchtown, New Jersey, or online via Zoom. In this way, Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center provides the True Refuge necessary for successful Dhamma practice as described in the Ratana Sutta of presenting a human Buddha, his restored Dhamma, and well-informed, well-focused, and welcoming Sangha.

On our home page are drop-down menus that provide a systematic and methodical path for developing the Buddha’s restored Dhamma. In general, the menus and the links within the menus build understanding from the top down. There is a search bar at the top of each page for further inquiry into a topic or sutta within Becoming-Buddha.com.

Linked on our home page are guided Jhan meditations and instructions. Jhana Meditation is the sole meditation method taught by the Buddha. He taught Jhana for the specific purpose of increasing concentration. It is from the foundation of a well-concentrated mind that the Redfined Mindfulness necessary for integrating the Eightfold Path as the framework and guidance for awakening can occur.

The Buddha’s Dhamma is to be directly experienced by all well-informed and well-focused Dhamma practitioners. How do you know if you are developing the Dhamma as intended? “Ehipassiko,” come and see for yourself.”

Of course, “seeing for yourself” through direct engagement with the Buddha’s Dhamma requires finding a still-pure Dhamma and skillful Dhamma teachers who have actually studied and developed the Buddha’s Dhamma. This is the only way to develop an awakened human being’s authentic Dhamma. John Haspel and Matt Branham, co-founders of BBCRMC, and our teaching staff are interested in one thing: teaching a relevant, accessible, and authentic Dhamma.

The context and foundation for all that we have studied, developed, and teach is found only in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the  Pali Canon.

What the Buddha Diod Not Teach and Why

The most significant, remarkable, and practically applied base of knowledge on the true reality of human life that I have found continues to be the direct and un-embellished Dhamma of an awakened human being.

If you are new to Buddhism or a Buddhist practitioner who has grown increasingly confused and disappointed by modern Buddhism-By-Common-Agreement or other speculative beliefs or “dharmas,” you are as fortunate as I am to have discovered an awakened human being’s Dhamma! Here you will only find teachings that an awakened human being actually taught as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka. The Buddha’s Dhamma quickly develops mindful focus and gentle contentment supporting an unwavering calm and peaceful quality of mind.

It is the Sutta Pitaka that preserves an authentic account of the forty-five-year teaching career of this extraordinary man, Siddhartha Gotama. Here is an article on the authenticity of the Sutta Pitaka and The Sutta Pitaka,

Most of modern Buddhism has been adapted, accommodated, and embellished to fit a fabricated need for continued ignorance of Four Noble Truths. This fabricated “Wrong View” is maintained by unskillful associations and clinging to the modern Buddhism-By-Common-Agreement movement and adapted, accommodated, and embellished  modern “dharmas” institutional “lineages.”

Much of modern Buddhism relies on fabricated teachings that often contradict what an awakened human being taught. When legitimized by the “Buddhist” label this leads to further confusion, deluded thinking, distraction, and continued stress and suffering.

If you have found modern Buddhist teachings 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.

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.

The Buddha awakened to the profound understanding that the nature of all human discontent, confusion, greed, aversion, and ongoing deluded thinking is rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths

This often misunderstood and often intentionally misrepresented foundational teaching is known as Dependent Origination

The Buddha’s very first Dhamma teaching established these Four Noble Truths as the context and clear direction for anyone interested to accomplish precisely what Siddhartha Gotama accomplished – become Rightly Self-Awakened, Become Buddha.

The entirety of the Dhamma is to bring understanding of Four Noble Truths. The Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path as the direct and only path of human awakening.

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.

The intended purpose of the Buddha’s entire teaching career is to resolve ignorance through True 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

Siddhartha Gotama discovered the Noble Eightfold Path through his own search for understanding. Here is an Sutta that describes the importance of recognizing and abandoning ignoble searches that lead to more ignorance:

How To Practice and Develop a Buddha’s Dhamma

The Buddha, finally engaging in a Noble Search, discovered a Timeless Eightfold Path to end all confusion, deluded thinking, and self-inflicted suffering. The concentration developed through  Jhana Meditation supports the Refined Mindfulness necessary to hold-in-mind the Eightfold Path. It is the Eightfold Path that brings profound wisdom and understanding of human life and a calm and peaceful mind.

Jhana Meditation – The Buddha’s Meditation Method For Deepening Concentration

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.

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

The Four Foundations Of Skillful And Refined 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.

Anapanasati Sutta – 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.”

The Sutta Pitaka, Second Book of the Pali Canon, 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 Dependent Origination and 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.”

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 Sutta Pitaka and studied only what the Buddha taught as a path, an Eightfold Path.

My Dhamma practice, including teaching, is framed and guided by what I have integrated from developing The Eightfold Path. As such, I encourage all visitors to make use of the resources available here for the benefit of all human beings. What the Buddha taught was that the most loving and compassionate effort any human being can engage in is the Right Effort that develops Rightly Self-Awakening through the cessation of ignorance.

The word “Noble” as it applies to Four Noble Truths” defines the timeless nature of these truths. Nobility implies superiority and continuance. In an impermanent, ever-changing world, these Four Truths remain true and endure while relative “truths” arise and pass away.

For example, “The sky is blue” is at times a true statement. That it is at times true does not make a blue sky or the belief in a blue sky relevant in any way to the Buddha’s Dhamma.

“I feel angry” is also, at times, a true statement. Introducing “feeling-worship” through misguided “mindful” analysis does not establish temporary feelings (or thought) as a worthy aspect of Dhamma practice. This only serves to develop additional fabrications and continue distraction. 

Another significant example is the fabrication of modern “dharmas” that contradict an awakened human being’s Dhamma. Though widespread, I have found that with gentle and patient Right Effort, clinging to fabricated views and unskillful associations is overcome and a useful and effective Buddha’s Dhamma becomes established.

Through all impermanent worldly phenomena, the Four Noble Truths remain true:

  1. Stress, dis-content, and suffering – Dukkha – occur.
  2. Ignorance (of Four Truths) originates and perpetuates individual Dukka.
  3. Cessation of ignorance is possible.
  4. The Eightfold Path is the path for developing profound wisdom and the cessation of ignorance.

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:

A group of like-minded and well-concentrated 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 re-united in its body now 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.

My classes from Cross River Meditation Center in Frenchtown New Jersey are streamed live and recorded. Here is information on my streaming and recorded classes:

You can be notified of our classes, retreats, and the posting of new articles and recordings by subscribing to my newsletter linked at the top of every page:

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

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 this resource and provide donation-based Dhamma teaching.:

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.

With a bit of time and gentle patience, you may find what the Buddha actually taught as effective today as it was 2,600 years ago in recognizing and abandoning all fabricated views and fabricated “dharmas” while developing profound understanding of the true nature of human life and a calm and peaceful mind.

Please take your time in reading and listening to this material. When engaged with through gentle determination, you will quickly deepen concentration and a calm and peaceful mind. Over time, you will develop refined mindfulness supporting the integration of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of ignorance of Four Noble Truths and becoming “Rightly Self-Awakened.”

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or wanting some encouragement.

John Haspel, February 14, 2022, Peace.

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BBCRMC Purpose Statement

Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center preserves and presents a human Buddha’s Dhamma initially recorded as the second book of the Pali Canon, the Sutta Pitaka. Our practice is informed from over 300 curated suttas restored by John to their original intent and practical focus. Our practice is empty of imagined “insight”, magical thinking, mystical grasping-after, and unfounded speculation.

Our teachers and students remain focused on these suttas to develop a direct mindful experience of establishing a well-concentrated, supple, and conflict-free mind through the Eightfold Path. It is the Eightfold Path that Siddartha Gotama taught over the last forty-five years of his life with the sole purpose of abandoning self-inflicted stress and suffering through ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

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BBCRMC Sangha Guidelines – Patimoksha

Patomoksha means “towards liberation.” These guidelines support a well-informed and well-focused Sangha and establish the most effective environment for Dhamma Practice always focused on liberation from ignorance.

  • Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center is a true Refuge from the chaos in the world and ideological contradictions and foundational confusion prevalent in modern Buddhism-By-Common-Agreement.
  • Our practice is framed by the Eightfold Path which establishes a skillful balance of Jhana meditation, Sutta study, Sangha participation, and daily individual Dhamma practice.
  • When gathered for Dhamma class we refer only to the Buddha’s Dhamma as restored by John and presented by our teachers.
  • When gathered as a Sangha we accept responsibility for maintaining the gentle integrity of our Sangha.
  • When gathered as a Sangha we are free of grasping after magical, mystical, and speculative concepts and fabricated experiences.
  • When gathered as a Sangha we practice Wise Restraint. Questions or confusion about verbiage or arising from comparisons to other modern Buddhist practices, modern Buddhist teachers, or what they are teaching are not a part of our Dhamma classes or Sangha discussions and should be addressed directly to our teachers outside of Dhamma class.
  • Individual class suttas are linked in our newsletter for home study prior to class. 

As a general rule, wise Dhamma practitioners incorporate the following five precepts as a basis for personal behavior:


  • Refrain from killing or taking life. Act with goodwill and loving-kindness. This includes abandoning character assassination and hate speech typically arising from gossip and idle chatter.
  • Refrain from stealing or taking what is not freely given including taking or manipulating others’ emotions. All-ways be generous.
  • Refrain from false, unnecessary, misleading, harmful, or impatient speech. Speak with kindness, honesty, and mindfulness.
  • Refrain from sexual misconduct or using sex in a selfish or harmful manner. Be content and giving.
  • Refrain from the use of intoxicants so to be mindful and thoughtful.

Our classes are appropriate for beginners as well as experienced meditators and our sangha is welcoming and supportive. A typical class begins with Jhana meditation followed by a Dhamma talk and sangha Q&A and discussion. We close meditation classes with a five-minute guided Metta intentional meditation.

We request a $20 donation for our classes. All are always welcome regardless of donation.

Please arrive a few minutes early.

Thank You for your mindfulness in supporting our well-informed and well-focused Sangha!

BBCRMC Dhamma Teachers

John Haspel, Matt Branham, Jen Seiz, Kevin Hart, Ram Manders, David Allen

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Becoming-Buddha.com is free of distracting advertising and ad-tracking. I rely on donations to support the continued preservation and clear and accessible presentation of the Buddha's Dhamma restored to his original focus and intent: Ending Ignorance of Four Noble Truths. 

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