The Three Poisons

Buddhism by the Numbers

Photo by the author

Three Poisons (The cause of all suffering)

  1. Greed
  2. Anger
  3. Ignorance

The antidotes are love and compassion.

The Noble Eight-fold Path is the path that leads us away from suffering.

Twelve Links in the Chain of Interdependent Co-Arising

Buddhism by the Numbers

Photo credit: Benn Bell

Twelve Links in the Chain of Interdependent Co-Arising

  1. Ignorance
  2. Volitional action
  3. Consciousness
  4. Mind/Body
  5. Six sense organs (Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind)
  6. Contact
  7. Feeling
  8. Craving
  9. Grasping/attachment
  10. Coming to be, being, becoming
  11. Birth
  12. Old age (decay) and death

Each link contains the other links. All teachings of Buddhism are based on interdependent co-arising. If a teaching is not in accord with interdependent co-arising it is not the teaching of the Buddha. Buddha taught that everything is both cause and effect. Interdependent co-arising goes beyond our concepts of time and space. The one contains all.

The presence of light means the absence of dark. The presence of day means the absence of night. The presence of ignorance means the absence of understanding. The Buddha said, “When ignorance comes to an end, understanding arises.”

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

The Seven Factors of Awakening

Buddhism by the Numbers

Japanese Gardens, Birmingham, Alabama. Photo by Benn Bell

The Seven Factors of Awakening

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation of phenomena
  3. Diligence
  4. Joy
  5. Ease
  6. Concentration
  7. Letting go

“At least once every 15 minutes, we need to practice letting go. Bear in your heart no hatred, utter no unkind words, remain always compassionate, with no hostility or ill will. The Seven Factors of Awakening are the practices of love.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

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 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