The Six Paramitas

Buddhism by the Numbers

Photo credit: Benn Bell

The Six Paramitas

  1. Giving
  2. Precepts
  3. Inclusiveness
  4. Diligence
  5. Meditation
  6. Understanding

Giving

Offer to all joy, happiness, and love. The greatest gift we can offer anyone is our true presence.

Give the gift of stability. The one we love needs us to be solid and stable. We can cultivate our stability by breathing in and out, practicing mindful walking and sitting, and enjoying livening deeply in every moment.

Other gifts we can offer: Freedom, Space and Peace.

Cross over to the other shore…the other shore of peace non-fear, and liberation.

The Five Powers

Buddhism by the Numbers

Photo by Benn Bell

The Five Powers

  1. Faith
  2. Diligence
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Concentration
  5. Insight

Mindfulness leads to concentration, and concentration leads to insight and to faith.

According to the Lotus Sutra, all sentient beings have the Buddha nature.

“Buddha” comes from the root verb “budh”, which means wake up.

Every moment is the opportunity to water the seeds of happiness in yourself.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

The Five Aggregates

Buddhism by the Numbers

Photo by: Benn Bell

The Five Aggregates

A human being is composed of Five aggregates (skandas): form, feelings, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.

  1. Form – Means our body including the five sense organs and our nervous system.
  2. Feelings – There is a river of feelings inside of us. Our feelings are formations, impermanent and without substance.
  3. Perceptions – Noticing, naming, conceptualizing, perceiver and perceived. All suffering is born from wrong perceptions. Understanding, the fruit of meditation, can dissolve our wrong perceptions and liberate us. “Where there is perception, there is deception.” -Diamond Sutra.
  4.  Mental Formations – There are 51 mental formations present in our store consciousness in the form of seeds. Every time a seed is touched it manifests on the upper level of our consciousness as a mental formation. With daily practice we are able to nourish and develop wholesome mental formations and transform unhealthy ones. Freedom, non-fear, and peace are the result of this practice.
  5. Consciousness – Consciousness in this context means store consciousness, which is the basis of everything that we are, the ground of all our mental formations. Consciousness contains all other aggregates and is the basis of their existence. Consciousness is simultaneously both collective and individual.

The five aggregates are interconnected or as Thich Nhat Hahn says, “Inter-are.”

The Four Immeasurable Minds

Photo by Benn Bell

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Four Immeasurable Minds

  • Love, compassion, joy, equanimity
  • If you learn how to practice love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, you will know how to heal the illness, anger, sorrow, insecurity, sadness, hatred, loneliness and unhealthy attachments.
  • Whoever practices the Four Immeasurable Minds together with the Seven Factors of Awakening, the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path will arrive at deep enlightenment.
  1. The first aspect of true love in Buddhism is friendship.
  2. The second aspect of true love is compassion.
  3. The third aspect of true love is joy. True love always brings joy to us and the ones we love.
  4. The fourth element of true love is equanimity: nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even mindedness, letting go. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging it is not true love. This is the wisdom of equality.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

The Three Bodies of Buddha

Buddhisim by the Numbers

The Buddha came to be represented as having “three bodies”:

  1. Dharmakaya – the source of enlightenment and happiness.
  2. Sambhogakaya – the body of bliss or enlightenment.
  3. Nirmanakaya – the historical embodiment of the Buddha.

When he was about to pass away, the Buddha told his disciples, “Dear friends, my physical body will not be here tomorrow, but my teaching body (Dharmakaya) will always be with you. Consider it to be the teacher who never leaves you. Be islands unto yourselves, take refuge in the Dharma. Use the Dharma as your lamp, your island.”

The original meaning of Dharmakaya, the way to realize understanding and love.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

Photo by Benn Bell

The Three Doors of Liberation

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Three Doors of Liberation:

  1. Emptiness/shunyata
  2. Signlessness/animitta
  3. Aimlessness/apranihita

Emptiness or shunyata:

Emptiness always means empty of something. A cup is empty of water. A bowl is empty of soup. We are empty of a separate, independent self.

Emptiness does not mean nonexistence. It means interdependent co-arising, impermanence, and non-self. Emptiness is the middle way between existence and nonexistence.

Everyone we cherish will someday, get sick and die. If we do not practice the mediation on emptiness, when it happens, we will be overwhelmed.

Signlessness or animitta:

The second door of liberation is signlessness. “Sign” means an appearance or the object of our perception.

Signs are instruments for our use, but they are not absolute truth, and they can mislead us. Wherever there is a sign, there is deception, illusion. Appearances can deceive.

If you see the signlessness of signs, you see the Tathagata. Tathagata means the wonderous nature of reality.

Everything manifests by means of signs.

Life span is the period of time between our birth and our death. We think we are alive for a specific period of time that has a beginning and an end. But when we look deeply, we see that we have never been born and we will never die. And our fear dissolves. With mindfulness, concentration, and the Three Dharma Seals, we can unlock the door of Liberation called signlessness and obtain the greatest relief.

Aimlessness or apranihita:

The Third Door of Liberation is aimlessness. There is nothing to do, nothing to realize. The purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself.

Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation.

According to the Heart Sutra there is “nothing to attain.”

Aimlessness and Nirvana are one.

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment

              Waking up this morning, I smile

              Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.

              I vow to live freely in each moment

              and to look at all beings with the eyes of love.

              -Thich Nhat Hanh

These twenty-four hours are a precious gift, a gift we can only realize when we have opened the Third Door of Liberation.

The practice of aimlessness, is the practice of freedom.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo by Benn Bell

The Three Dharma Seals

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Three Dharma Seals

Impermanence, Non-self, Nirvana

  • From the point of view of time we say “impermanence” and from the point of view of space we say “non-self.”
  • It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent.
  • Nothing is ever lost. Nothing is ever gained.
  • The second dharma seal is non-self. Nothing has a separate existence or separate self. Everything has to inter-be with everything else.
  • When we see that everyone and everything belongs to the same stream of life, our suffering will vanish.
  • Non-self means that you are made of elements which are not you.
  • Nirvana is the third dharma seal. It is the ground of being.
  • “The dharma I offer you is only a raft to help you cross over to the other shore,” said the Buddha.
  • Nirvana is the extinction of all notions.
  • Happy Continuation
  • Eight concepts: birth, death, permanence, dissolution, coming, going, one, many.
  • The practice to end attachment of these eight ideas is called the eight no’s or the middle way.
  • Experience always goes before ideas.
  • Any teaching that does not bear the mark of the Three Dharma Seals, the Four Holy Truths, and the Eightfold Path is not authentically Buddhist.
  • Two Relevancies
    1. Relevance to essence – The three dharma seals: impermanence, non-self, Nirvana.
    2. Relevance must fit the circumstances.
  • Four Standards of Truth
    1. The worldly
    2. The person
    3. Healing
    4. The absolute – No self
  • The Four Reliances
    1. Teaching
    2. Discourses
    3. Meaning
    4. Insight

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

The Two Truths

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Two Truths

According to Buddhism there are two kinds of truth: Relative Truth and Absolute Truth. We recognize the presence of happiness and the presence of suffering. One day we realize that suffering and happiness are “not two.”

  • Where ever there is joy there is suffering.
  • Suffering and joy are not two.
  • Our life is the path
  • We enter the path of practice through the door of knowledge
  • All conditioned things are impermanent. They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.

In the Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dharma the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. In the Heart Sutra, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara tell us there is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path. Is this a contradiction? No. The Buddha is speaking in terms of relative truth and Avlakiteshvara is teaching in terms of absolute truth.

The Buddha recommends that we recite the Five Remembrances every day:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.
  3. All things dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  4. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

Waves

  • When we look at the ocean, we see that each wave has a beginning and an end.
  • If we look deeply, we can see a wave is made of water.
  • While living the life of a wave, it also lives the life of water. When a wave touches her true nature, which is water, all her complexes will cease, and she will transcend birth and death.
  • Liberation is the ability to go from the world of signs to the world of true nature.
  • What is essential is to be our best while we are here.
  • All formations are impermanent.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell