The Three Stages of the Cultivation of Wisdom

[From a public talk on Natural Meditation, Wisdom, and Compassion given by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2012. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. Transcribed by Pema Wangmo. Edited by Matt Willis. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint without permission.]

The Buddha’s tradition generally defines wisdom as the ability to correctly distinguish the true attributes of things or phenomena. This means to recognize the nature of all things, and to be able to distinguish correctly between one thing and another.

Generally speaking, this type of wisdom is said to be cultivated in three stages. The three stages are called hearing, thinking and meditation. Hearing refers to the process of study, the acquisition of information and knowledge. Thinking refers to the rigorous analysis of the information or knowledge that has been gained until there is a decisive resolution of its true meaning. And then, through meditation practice, we come to a direct experience of what has been conceptually understood.

Because it is only meditation that leads to direct realization of these three stages, the one that is the most important is the third – the stage of meditation. Nevertheless, in the Buddhist tradition in general, it is recommended that meditation be preceded by some period of study or hearing and some period of rigorous analysis.

In our tradition, the lineage of Lord Gampopa, which combines the mahamudra tradition with the mind training teachings of the Kadampa school, there are two ways to approach this. If someone encounters the teachings in their youth, and has time therefore to do so, they can begin with years of exhaustive study, then exhaustive analysis, and then approach the formal practice of meditation. But, if someone lacks that much time, it’s sufficient, according to our tradition, to engage in a briefer period of study and analysis and principally to use the practice of meditation itself to develop the wisdom that is able to correctly discern the attributes of things.

This entry was posted in Teachings by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.