The Buddha sometimes described the practice (patipatti) of his teaching as the gradual training because the Noble 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.
Theravāda is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school.
The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved their version of Gautama Buddha's teaching or Buddha Dhamma in the Pāli Canon for over a millennium.
The Pāli Canon is the most complete Buddhist canon surviving in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as the school's sacred language and lingua franca.
In contrast to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, Theravāda tends to be conservative in matters of .