The Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel during

the Five Periods of Teachings


The Buddha established the teachings of the Three-Vehicle Bodhi during the Five Periods of Time, comprising the Immediate Teaching, the Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheels (Transmission), and the Perfect Teachings. The chart illustrates the whole picture regarding the Buddha’s teachings across the Five Periods.




Immediate Teaching 

  • Flower Garland Sutra   (Avataṃsakasūtra) 

The Buddha's demonstration on perfecting the Buddhahood Path

Two-Vehicle Bodhi

First Turning of the Dharma Wheel 

  • Agamas 

Liberation from Cyclic Existence (samsara; 解脫生死)

Eliminate the notion of self view (S:satkāya-dṛṣṭi; 我見) to attain the Path of Liberation

Mahayana Teachings, focused on the prajna


Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel

  • Prajnaparamita Sutras
  • Heart Sutra
  • The Diamond Sutra 

Penetrative Understanding of the Signs of Reality (通達實相)

Attain enlightenment to the True Mind, tathagatagarbha, i.e. The Path of Vision (S: darśanamārga; 見道)

Expanded learning of Vijnana-Only (Consciousness-Only)


Third Turning of the Dharma Wheel 

  • Surangama Sutra
  • Lankavatara Sutra
  • Sandhinirmocana Sutra

  • Vimalakirti Sutra Nirdesa Sutra
  • Lion's Roar of Queen Śrīmālā (Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra)

All Phenomena Are Consciousness-Only (S:vijñaptimātratā;萬法唯識)

Extensive cultivation on the knowledge of all aspects (S:sarvākārajñatā; 修學唯識種智)

Perfect Teaching

  • Nirvana Sutra
  • Lotus Sutra 

Delineate the holistic overview of Buddhism