In Buddhism there are four main philosophical schools which together make the four main columns of Buddhist doctrine. They are the 1. Vaibashika, 2. Sautrantika, 3. Mind Only (Cittamatra), and 4. Madhyamika schools. The Vaibashika espouse the reality of phenomena as it presents itself to us. The Sautrantika accept the selflessness of persons but not the selflessness of other phenomena. The Mind-Only (Cittamatra) accept the selflessness of both self and others but believe in the true existence of the mind. The Madhyamaka (Middle Way) presents the thesis that things appear as real though they do not truly exist as inherent entities. The tenets of these four schools are the basis of understanding the full panorama of the Buddha’s teachings. Thus to gain an understanding in accord with the fundamental schools of the Vaibashika and Sautrantika is considered to be an important and essential step on the road to ultimate insight.
These teachings were recorded August 25-30, 2003 during the first Shedra class at Padma Samye Ling which covered the first two doctrines according to the profound teachings of Longchenpa. In order to have a complete picture of the four foundational doctrines of Buddhism, students are encouraged to attend and study these teachings.