Correct understanding comes from becoming familiar with the teachings.
Characteristics of Buddhist teaching
Buddhist teachings are supposed to have four characteristics, according
- the quality of leading sentient beings to enlightenment
- the words that express the meaning are devoid of any linguistic
- the function to eliminate mental afflictions
- the purpose of pacifying suffering of sentient beings. Any teachings
that fail to meet these requirements would then be the cause of engendering
Through familiarizing ourselves with teachings that have these four
characteristics we develop a proper understanding that does not simply
remain on an abstract level.
By studying and becoming familiar with the teachings, we appropriate
their content into the continuum of our own experience. In that way,
the teachings and our own inner experiences become inseparable. This
is why it is sometimes said that there are the outer expressions of
the teachings and the inner expressions of the teachings
— the outer expressions being teachings in written or spoken
form and the inner expressions being one's own experiences. This is
called lung dang tog pa in Tibetan.
The teachings of the lung, which means "the
written and oral traditions," are contained in the
Buddhist canon in the form of the Kangyur and Tengyur.
The Buddha's own direct discourses are known as Ka,
while the commentarial material on these discourses are
known as Tenchoe (the Tengyur contains the general
commentarial texts, while the Tenchoe contains commentaries
strictly related to Ka). Tog pa means "the
inner understanding that develops from having appropriated
their content into our own continuum of experience."
develops through appropriating the teachings into one's
In Buddhism we practice meditation through understanding the teachings
and placing our own experiences in the context of those teachings.
We have to appreciate the fact that they cannot be separated. The understanding
that one develops through appropriating the teachings into one's being
is liberating in itself. It is not the case that we first have to understand
the teachings, then do certain practices and then find liberation.