How to listen to Buddhist teachings

The three faults of a vessel are the faults in a student that can occur while listening to Buddhist teachings:

  1. Upside down vessel: Where the student’s mind is closed off to the Dharma teachings.
  2. Dirty vessel: Where the student’s mind is overwhelmed by other views that pollute the Dharma teachings, such as other philosophies or with a mind motivated by attachment.
  3. Leaky vessel / vessel with holes: Where the student’s mind takes in Dharma teachings, but soon forgets them by either (i) not being attentive to the teachings, (ii) not reflecting on the Dharma teachings between sessions, or (iii) not meditating on the Dharma teachings to habituate their mind to the teachings.

The six discriminations are:

  1. Thinking of myself as a sick person, sick with mental afflictions caused by self-cherishing and self-grasping.
  2. Thinking of the teachers as the doctors, understanding the sickness of mental afflictions and prescribing the medicine.
  3. Thinking of the Dharma as medicine, having the capacity to cure me if I take it (practice the Dharma).
  4. Thinking of practice as the way to cure my sickness: through regular practice the Dharma can cure me of the mental afflictions.
  5. Thinking of the Buddhas as excellent beings: the Buddhas have provided the Dharma and lead beings such as myself towards Enlightenment.
  6. Wishing for the Dharma to endure for a long time, so that other people that are also sick will have the opportunity to benefit from Buddha Shakyamuni and work towards Enlightenment.