Easy Buddhist Lists (chart)

Text by Tanya Erlichman and Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; chart by Dr. Art Rosengarten
Imagine sitting on a mountaintop trying to remember the 37 Requisites of Enlightenment without a list. Here are a dozen other sets.

What is "Buddhism"? 1. It is a path to complete freedom, full liberation, nirvana.

2. It is the teaching of disappointment (dukkha) and the end of disappointment (nirvana).

3. It is the fourfold realization that there is a problem (suffering or dukkha), a cause (dependently originated ignorant craving), a solution (nirvana), and a way leading to the solution.

4. The Buddha called that middle way the Noble Eightfold Path. It is ennobling and leads out of here, samsara, to nirvana. "Noble Ones" is a name for enlightened persons.

Ancient Buddhaghosa, compiler of the Path of Purification and Path of Freedom

So Buddhism is is either one, two, four, or eight things depending on how one unpacks it. One explanation implies the others. All of these answers are snapshots of the same thing -- but at different levels of resolution, zooming in for greater detail or panning out to be more general.

Lists are the same way. They are cheat sheets, crib notes, shortcuts to remember important points. Like outlines, one might never use lists. But lists are implicit in many sutras. Making those lists explicit guards the Dharma. The Buddha's teaching remains effective if we do not inadvertently leave elements out.

Lists are handy if well grasped and utilized as memory aids for Dharma hearers who have become readers without the benefit of amazing memories or repetitive sutras (Art).

1. THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
These are optimal understanding (view), intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration (absorption).

2. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Unhappiness exists; it has an origin (causes and conditions); it has an end; and there is a path that leads to the end of unhappiness.

3. THE SEVEN POINTS OF POSTURE
Legs, arms, spine, eyes, jaw, tongue, head and shoulders, all of which should be relaxed during seated meditation for optimal posture which can be held for maximum stillness, stability, and comfort over time.

4. THE SIX ROOTS OF MIND
The mind is always under the influence of either these three skillful or following three unskillful root motivations: selflessness (generosity, unselfishness, renunciation), love, wisdom; greed, hatred, or delusion.

5. THE SIX SENSE DOORS AND THREE FEELINGS
The sensitive matter in the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are the sense doors; the three kinds of sensation they receive are pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral (neither pleasant nor unpleasant).

6. THE FOUR LOVING-KINDNESS PHRASES
May I (and everyone else) be free from danger; may I be happy; may I be healthy; may I love with ease. Traditionally, one might also practice setting intentions to be free from suffering (psychological), pain (physical), fear, and may I (and everyone else) look after myself (themselves) with joy and ease.

7. THE EIGHT VICISSITUDES OF LIFE
By living we are all subjected to pleasure, pain, gain, loss, praise, blame, fame, and disrepute.

8. THE FIVE PRECEPTS
To abstain from taking life, taking what is not freely given, sexual misconduct, false speech (perjury, divisiveness, harshness, useless prattle), and intoxicants that lead to negligence.

9. THE FOUR SUPREME ABIDINGS
Four states of mind are called "supreme" (brahma) states because they are the abodes (abidings) of the divine (Brahma), having grown boundless by being extended universally: loving-kindness (friendliness), compassion, appreciative joy (happiness in others' happiness), and equanimity (non-bias).

10. THE THREE KINDS OF SUFFERING
Dukkha is disappointment due to unsatisfactoriness, which is to say that things are not capable of providing lasting satisfaction. Dukkha is disappointment due to impermanence (constant change and instability). Dukkha is disappointment due to the conditional nature of things, which is to say they are fundamentally impersonal (empty, utterly depending on components for their existence) but regarded as otherwise.

11. THE FIVE HINDRANCES
These hinder the heart/mind impeding serenity and insight: sensual desire, ill-will, drowsiness (mental sloth and physical torpor), restlessness and remorse (physical excess of energy and mental worry), and pernicious skeptical (crippling doubt and uncertainty). These hindrances ruin meditation and must be overcome to gain tranquility, absorption (zen or jhana), or liberating insight (wisdom).

12. THE SIX OBJECTS OF LOVING-KINDNESS PRACTICE
One sends thoughts and feelings of altruistic love, kindness, and friendliness towards these six in this order: oneself, a benefactor, a virtuous friend, an indifferent stranger, an enemy (one opposed to our progress), all beings everywhere without distinction.
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