The Buddha sometimes described the practice (patipatti) of his teaching as the gradual training (Pali: anupubbasikkhā) because the eightfold path involves a process of mind-body transformation that unfolds over a sometimes lengthy period.
Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this discipline of Dhamma (dhamma-vinaya) has a gradual training (anupubbasikkhā), a gradual performance (anupubbakiriyā) , a gradual progression (anupubbapatipadā), with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch.—Udana, 5.5
The emphasis on gradual training may be understood by the fact that just as the human habits which give rise to suffering have been built up over a long period of time those same habits similarly take a long time to undo requiring a sustained effort achievable only with a genuine commitment to training.
The gradual approach to teaching and training was a hallmark of the Buddha's method of instruction. Whenever he felt that a person to whom the Dhamma had not yet been revealed was in a suitably receptive frame of mind he would deliver a 'graduated discourse' (Pali: ānupubbī-kathā)  — which took a certain form.
- Generosity (dāna)
- Virtue (sīla)
- Heaven (sagga)
- Danger of sensual pleasure (kāmānaṃ ādīnava)
- Renunciation (nekkhamma)
- The Four Noble Truths (cattāri ariya-saccāni)
- ↑ Variously translated "Gradual discourse" (Walshe 1995, p. 215); "gradual instruction," (Nyanatiloka, 1980), entry for "ānupubbī-kathā" at http://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic3_a.htm; "progressive instruction," Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), p. 485. and "step-by-step talk" (Thanissaro 1998).
- ↑ See, for instance, Bullitt (2005).
- Bullitt, John T. (2005). Dhamma. Retrieved 2007-11-08 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/index.html.
- Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) & Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2001). The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
- Nyanatiloka (1980). Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0019-8. Retrieved 2007-11-10 from "BuddhaSasana" at http://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic_idx.htm.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998). Kutthi Sutta: The Leper (Ud. 5.3). Retrieved 2007-11-12 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.5.03.than.html.
- Walshe, Maurice (1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.
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