Buddhism


10 May 2024

DISCLAIMER: I’m truly a novice. This page is not yet organised. I’m just putting things here as I learn them.

Introduction

Here are some miscellaneous notes I’ve gathered to help me in my Buddhist practice. Perhaps they’ll be useful to others. I’m truly a novice but it helps to write things down. Spot something that isn’t quite right? Let me know!

I’ve found so many connections and parallels to my work as an organisational development consultant, agile delivery coach, OKR trainer/coach, and project manager.

FYI, I’ve been practicing in the Theravada tradition so I typically use Pali names for things.

Reminder to self: Don’t just think about this stuff. Practice, practice, practice.

Table of contents

The four noble truths

The backbone of Buddhist teaching and practice.

  1. There is suffering (dukkha)
    1. Suffering should be understood
    2. Suffering has been understood 
  2. There is a beginning (samudaya) to suffering (attachment to desire (tanha))
    1. Desire should be let go of
    2. Desire has been let go of
  3. There is an end (nirodha) to suffering
    1. Cessation of suffering should be realised
    2. Creation of suffering has been realised
  4. There is a path out of suffering (The eight-fold path; magga)

The eightfold path

The path out of suffering. See BBC Bitesize and Wikipedia.

The threefold way: Síla, Samādhi, Paññā

The eightfold path is typically divided into 3 areas known as the threefold way: ethics, concentration, and wisdom.

First you just do the right thing. Then you think and reflect about why it’s the right thing to do. Then you understand why it’s right. See Shu-ha-ri.

  • Síla (morality or Ethics) - Do the right thing (speech, action, work)
  • Samādhi (concentration) - Think & reflect
  • Paññā (wisdom) - Understand & aspire

More

The eightfold path (within the threefold way)

  1. Morality (síla)
    1. Right speech (sammā-vācā)
    2. Right action (sammā-kammanta)
    3. Right livelihood (sammā-āvija)
  2. Concentration (samādhi)
    1. Right effort (sammā-vāyāma)
    2. Right mindfulness (sammā-sati)
    3. Right concentration (sammā-samādhi)
  3. Wisdom (pañña)
    1. Right understanding/view (sammā-ditthi)
    2. Right aspiration (sammā-sankappa)

More about the Eightfold Path

“Sammā” - usually translated as “right” but better to translate as “attuned” (per Ajahn Amaro)

Dukkha” - Fun thought: one derivation of the word comes from an off-centre axle hole which makes for a bumpy ride. I like to imagine it’s actually onomatopoeia: If your axle hole is off-centre your cart will go “dukkha dukkha dukkha”! Very annoying. Better to get centered! 😉

The five precepts

Refrain from:

  1. killing
  2. stealing (or taking that which is not given)
  3. sexual misconduct 
  4. Careless speech (including lying)
  5. Intoxication

More

The eight precepts

All of the above five precepts plus refraining from:

  1. Adornment or entertainment 
  2. Eating after noon (1pm in summer time)
  3. Luxurious furniture

More

The Triple Gem (The Three Refuges)

  • Buddha - Guess what: A human being figured this out and you can too! Take refuge in this.
  • Dhamma - Reality is all there is. Take refuge in knowing that.
  • Sangha - You have a community centred around every monastery or place of practice. You’re part of it even by knowing about Dhamma. Lay people have an important role supporting the Sangha. Take refuge in the community.

Rest in these things when the going gets tough.

Great talk by Ajahn Candasiri.

Seven factors of awakening

More

  • Mindfulness (sati, Sanskrit smrti). To maintain awareness of reality (dharma).
  • Investigation of the nature of reality (dhamma vicaya, Skt. dharmapravicaya).
  • Energy (viriya, Skt. vīrya) also determination, effort
  • Joy or rapture (pīti, Skt. prīti)
  • Relaxation or tranquility (passaddhi, Skt. prashrabdhi) of both body and mind
  • Concentration, (samādhi) a calm, one-pointed state of mind, or clear awareness
  • Equanimity (upekkha, Skt. upekshā). To accept reality as-it-is (yathā-bhuta) without craving or aversion.

The four messengers (Four kinds of angels)

Seen by the very privileged prince Gautama for the first time when he left the palace: 

  1. an old person
  2. a sick person
  3. a corpse
  4. a monk sitting serenely under a tree

Study & practice = experiential understanding

Here’s a nice dhamma talk. I also wrote about this on my blog.

The 10 perfections (Paramita)

The ten perfections or Paramitas are key character traits to help you out in life on the journey to enlightment.

In the Theravāda tradition they are:

  1. generosity (dāna)
  2. morality (sīla)
  3. renunciation (nekhamma)
  4. insight (pañña)
  5. energy (viriya)
  6. patience (khanti)
  7. truthfulness (sacca)
  8. resolution (adhiṭṭhāna)
  9. loving-kindness (metta)
  10. equanimity (upekkhā)

Source

Notice we get only two of the four Bramaviharas in the 10 perfections.

Types of meditation

Not an exhaustive list, of course.

The three types of desire (tanha)

  1. Kama tanha - to get things
  2. Bhava tanha “bawa-tan-ha” - to become something
  3. Vibhava tanha “vi’-bawa-tan-ha” - to get rid of or obliterate things

Tanha on Wikipedia

Brahmaviharas

Where do we choose to hang out? “Vihara” literally means “a secluded place in which to walk” (e.g. home or dwelling)

There are many Realms (Viharas)

Hellish realms
Animal realms
Human realms
Godlike (Devas) realms
Brahma realms

The Brahmaviharas (aka “sublime states”) are the highest realms:

  1. loving-kindness or benevolence (maitrī/metta)
  2. compassion (karuna)
  3. empathetic joy (mudita)
  4. equanimity (upekṣā/upekkha)

A handy Bramavihara table

I found this handy table on Dhammawiki. I love the idea of a “near enemy” which is deceptively similar to the bramavihara but just different enough to be harmful rather than beneficial.

Bramavihara Near enemy Far enemy
Metta - Loving kindness Self affection Painful Ill-will
Karuna - Compassion Pity Cruelty
Mudita - Joy with others Exhuberance Resentment
Upekkha - Equaniminty Indifference craving, clinging

Podcasts about Bramaviharas

Preliminary homage/chant

What’s that thing they chant at the start of each Dhamma talk at Amaravati? Dhammacārī

“Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambudhassa” (3x) (Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened One.) 

“Apârutâ tesam amatassa dvârâ Ye sotavanto pamuñcantu saddham.” (The gate to the deathless is open) Source

Useful books

There are many many more books from the Forest Sangha, mostly free to download and in many languages. Check ’em out!

Texts (sutta’s) to investigate further

The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

Or Anātmalakṣaṇa Sūtra, is traditionally recorded as the second discourse delivered by Gautama Buddha. The title translates to the “Not-Self Characteristic Discourse”, but is also known as the Pañcavaggiya Sutta or Pañcavargīya Sūtra, meaning the “Group of Five” Discourse. Learn more @ (Wikipedia)

The Visuddhimagga

Giant treatise on Buddhism by Sri Lankan Guy 5th century.

(Pali; English: The Path of Purification), is the ‘great treatise’ on Buddhist practice and Theravāda Abhidhamma written by Buddhaghosa approximately in the 5th Century in Sri Lanka. It is a manual condensing and systematizing the 5th century understanding and interpretation of the Buddhist path as maintained by the elders of the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. More (Wikipedia).

The Anguttara Nikaya  

The Aṅguttara Nikāya (aṅguttaranikāya; lit. ‘Increased-by-One Collection’, also translated “Gradual Collection” or “Numerical Discourses”) is a Buddhist scriptures collection, the fourth of the five Nikāyas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the “three baskets” that comprise the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. This nikaya consists of several thousand discourses ascribed to The Buddha and his chief disciples arranged in eleven “books”, according to the number of Dhamma items referenced in them. Wikipedia

The three marks of existence

  1. Aniccā - impermanence 
  2. Anattā - not self
  3. Dukkha - suffering

The five remembrances

The Upajjhatthana Sutta invites us to continuously remember that every one of us is subject to:

  1. Old age
  2. Sickness
  3. Death
  4. Separation (aniccā)
  5. Kamma

To make it personal:

  1. I will age
  2. I will sicken
  3. I will die
  4. I will be separated from all that I love
  5. I am my actions, they are mine

Or:

  1. I have not gone beyond ageing
  2. I have not gone beyond sickness
  3. I have not gone beyond death
  4. All that I love will change and become separate from me (I will be separated from all that I love)
  5. I am the heir to my actions

All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, will become separated from me.”

Nikki Mirghafori says:

“These are the Five Daily Reflections that the Buddha suggested people recite every day.

Just like everyone, I am of the nature to age. I have not gone beyond aging.

Just like everyone, I am of the nature to sicken. I have not gone beyond sickness.

Just like everyone, I am subjected to the results of my own actions. I am not free from these karmic effects.

Just like everyone, I am of the nature to die. I have not gone beyond dying.

Just like everyone, all that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will change, will become otherwise, will become separated from me.

Allow whatever arises to come up. It’s okay. These contemplations can bring a lot up. So just be with them as much as possible.”

Source: Vox.com

The five khandhas

  1. form (or material image, impression) (rupa)
  2. sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana)
  3. perceptions (samjna)
  4. mental activity or formations (sankhara)
  5. consciousness (vijnana)

More (Wikipedia)

The four requisites

All you need (according to the Buddhists):

  1. Clothing
  2. Food
  3. Lodging
  4. Medicine

How do we get from blissful ignorance to suffering? Pratītyasamutpāda. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

  1. Ignorance - Blank slate
  2. Sankaras (formations) - I have an idea
  3. Consciousness - I’m aware that I have ideas
  4. Mentality-Materiality - I’m different from my surroundings
  5. Senses(6 sense spheres) - I can feel all this stuff!
  6. Contact - There it is! Something has made contact with my senses
  7. Feeling - I feel things
  8. Craving - I want things
  9. Clinging - I have things and don’t want to let go
  10. Becoming - I create “self” by having & feeling
  11. Birth - I’m continuously born into wanting, getting, and hanging on
  12. Old age, sickness, death - Oh dear. Impermanence bites

Result: Suffering

The Maha Mangala Sutta - On Blessings

Nice story from the Tipiṭaka, one night a Deva asked the Buddha what was the greatest blessing. Read the whole sutta.

According to the Buddha, the greatest belssings are:

“Not to associate with the foolish, but to associate with the wise; and to honor those who are worthy of honor — this is the greatest blessing.

To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing.

To have much learning, to be skillful in handicraft, well-trained in discipline, and to be of good speech — this is the greatest blessing.

To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupation — this is the greatest blessing.

To be generous in giving, to be righteous in conduct, to help one’s relatives, and to be blameless in action — this is the greatest blessing.

To loathe more evil and abstain from it, to refrain from intoxicants, and to be steadfast in virtue — this is the greatest blessing.

To be respectful, humble, contented and grateful; and to listen to the Dhamma on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.

To be patient and obedient, to associate with monks and to have religious discussions on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.

Self-restraint, a holy and chaste life, the perception of the Noble Truths and the realisation of Nibbana — this is the greatest blessing.

A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing.

Those who thus abide, ever remain invincible, in happiness established. These are the greatest blessings.”

What holds us back?

The five hindrances

  1. Sensory desire
  2. Ill will (rejection, aversion, getting rid of)
  3. Sloth/torpor/lack of energy
  4. Restlessness/worry
  5. Doubt

Doubt as a reason for inaction is unproductive. But as a trigger for active investigation, reflection, and preparation, I think it can be useful.

The ten fetters

Pali: “samyojana”.

  1. belief in a self (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi)
  2. doubt or uncertainty, especially about the Buddha’s awakeness (vicikicchā)
  3. attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa)
  4. sensual desire (kāmacchando)
  5. ill will (vyāpādo or byāpādo)
  6. lust for material existence, lust for material rebirth (rūparāgo)
  7. lust for immaterial existence, lust for rebirth in a formless realm (arūparāgo)
  8. conceit (māna)
  9. restlessness (uddhacca)
  10. ignorance (avijjā)

Source

On expending effort to be calm and anxiety around imperfection: PDF

Miscellaneous words & terms

  • Bhavana - To cultivate, for example:

    • Samatha - mind calmness; tranquility 
    • Vipassana - insight / awareness.  lit: “special, super (Vi), seeing (Passanā)"
  • samvega - spiritual urgency. Like a drowning person gasping for air.

  • Satipatthana FYI, Luang Por Sumedho says “satisapatanya”

  • Vidya - Too see knowingly

  • Avidyā - Ignorance

  • Avīci - One of the lowest hell realms

  • Locosani - Perceiver, sensing

  • Locamani - Conceiver, forming

  • Mahasi_Sayadaw Meditation Method Luang Lor Sumedho learned in Bangkok as a lay person.

  • papañca - proliferation of ideas 

  • Sati - Mindfulness - Hello!

  • Sampajañña - “The mental process by which one continuously monitors one’s own body and mind. In the practice of śamatha, its principal function is to note the occurrence of laxity and excitation.”

  • Saṅkhāra - Mental formations

Random notes… clean these up!

Katanyu - gratitude “Anyu” knowledge “Kata” to make (kinda like in karate. Or the Toyota Kata (Lean). Make things better.) Acknowledging what has been done for you.

Kataveyde - what you do in response  “Vede” feeling Credit Ajahn Suripanio looked at etymology. Via Ajahn Amaro’s dhamma talk. (which one?) What arises in the heart – gratitude.

chagana sati - meditation on goodness. But wait, “chagana” means poop. This can’t be right… More research needed.

Itiwutakaya - don’t belittle puñña:  “merit” or “happiness”

Tags:  Buddhism