compiled by Richard Darsie (Lhakthong Gyürme)
The Two Truths are 1) the way things
appear, and 2) the way they really are.
The Three Jewels (also called the
"Triple Gem") are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the objects of Buddhist
The Three Poisons are the mental
afflictions of greed (craving, strong desire), anger (hatred,
aversion), and ignorance which together act to keep us trapped in the
cyclical round of suffering (samsara).
3 Universal Laws
Universal Laws are basic facts of existence taught by the Buddha.
- All things are impermanent (anicca)
- All life is subject to suffering or dissatisfaction (dukkha)
- There is no permanently abiding self (anatta)
Usually translated as the "Three
Paths," these are the Tibetan Buddhist formulation of different levels of
aspiration and practice leading to awakening.
Three Kayas, or the Three Bodies of the Buddha, represent the ultimate fruition
of practice, and are said to correspond with body, speech and mind. This is very
abstract and advanced material.
- Dharmakaya ("Truth Body")
- Samboghakaya ("Bliss Body")
- Nirmanakaya ("Enjoyment Body" or "Activity Body")
The Buddha's first exposition of Dharma teaching was in
the form of the 4 Noble Truths: the pervasiveness of suffering, the cause of
suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of
suffering (i.e., the Noble
The Four Immeasurables are four qualities of awakened
mind: lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. They are
called "immeasurable" because they can be developed to an unlimited degree.
The Four Reminders are
contemplations which serve to motivate the practice of Dharma.
- The preciousness of our human birth
- The truth of impermanence and death
- The inexorability of the law of cause and effect (karma)
- The shortcomings of samsara
4 Foundations of
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness were taught by the
Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta. They are:
- Contemplation on the body
- Contemplation on feelings
- Contemplation on the mind
- Contemplation on dharmas
4 Dharmas of Gampopa
Gampopa was the Dharma
heir of the great master Milarepa. His Four Dharmas are a summary of the path of
- The mind turns towards Dharma
- Dharma becomes the path
- The path dispels confusion
- Confusion arises as wisdom
4 Powers of Purification
Four Powers of Purification (also called the "Four Opponent Powers") have to do
with purifying past karma.
- Power of the Object
- Power of Regret
- Power of Promise
- Power of Practice
4 Great Vows
The Four Great Vows are the way
that the Bodhisattva Vow is usually framed in the Zen tradition. They are:
- Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
- Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them.
- The Dharmas are boundless, I vow to master them.
- The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to attain it.
Skandhas (usually translated as "aggregates of existence", but sometimes as
"piles" or "heaps") are the basic underpinning of samsaric existence. They are:
- Sensation or Feeling (i.e., senses)
- Perception (i.e., what an individual receives from the senses)
- Formation or Discrimination (i.e., picking and choosing through attachment
The Five Hindrances to meditation were taught by the
Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta. They are:
- Desire (especially sense desires)
- Sloth and torpor
- Distraction and worry
- Doubt or wavering
The Five Precepts are the main ethical principles for
- To refrain from taking life
- To refrain from taking what is not given
- To refrain from sexual misconduct
- To refrain from incorrect speech (i.e., lying, gossiping, uncourteous,
- To refrain from intoxicants leading to heedlessness
"Klesha" is usually translated as "negative emotion" or
"mental affliction". The kleshas are strong negative habitual patterns of mind
that keep us stuck in the karmic round. There are various enumerations of
kleshas in different traditions - sometimes "doubt" and "wrong views" are
included. The listing below comes from the teaching of Pema Chödrön. Note that
the first three kleshas on this list are identical to the Three
- Anger (or "hatred" or "aggression")
- Craving ("lust" or "addiction")
- Ignorance (or "indifference")
- Pride (or "arrogance")
The Five Paths are the means by which one cultivates wisdom
and compassion through which the obscurations (kleshas)
- The Path of Accumulation
- The Path of Preparation (or Application)
- The Path of Seeing (or Insight)
- The Path of Meditation
- The Path of Complete Perfection (or No Further Training)
Paramitas (variously translated as "perfections" or "activities of awakening")
are aspects of the Bodhisattva path. The six are:
6 Realms of
The Six Realms are the basic modalities of samsaric
existence. These are divided into three upper realms (gods, jealous gods or
titans, humans) and three lower realms (animals, hungry ghosts, hells). Birth in
the human realm is considered the most fortunate of all samsaric births because
it affords the best opportunity for awakening from samsara altogether. This is
because of the balance between pleasure and pain in the human realm: there is
enough suffering to make us want to escape but not enough (at least in fortunate
cases) to render practice impossible. There are differences of opinion on
whether the Six Realms are actual locations or states of mind.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Six Bardos
are states of samsaric consciousness. Literally "an interval between two
things", a bardo state is thus thought of as a consciousness experienced between
two boundary events. For example, our ordinary everyday consciousness is the
"Bardo between Birth and Death". Bardo teachings concerning experiences between
death and subsequent rebirth comprise a great portion of the Tibetan Book of the
Dead (which is actually called the Bardo Thodol in Tibetan).
Referred to as the "Seven-Limb Practice", these actions
taken before listening to and practicing dharma help establish a mindstate more
conducive to such activities. Sometimes only six are given.
of Mind Training
The Seven Points of Mind Training is the formal
term for the "lojong" teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. The "seven points"
(enumerated below) subsume 59 "slogans" which together comprise a complete set
of practical guidelines for the awakening of bodhichitta.
- The Preliminaries, Which Are a Basis for Dharma Practice
- The Main Practice, Which is Training in Bodhichitta
- Transformation of Bad Circumstances into the Way of Enlightenment
- Showing the Utilization of Practice in One's Whole Life
- Evaluation of Mind Training
- Disciplines of Mind Training
- Guidelines of Mind Training
The last of the Four Noble
Truths is the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to awakening.
- Right View
- Right Intentions
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
8 Worldly Dharmas
Eight Worldly Dharmas consist of four pairs of opposites, as follows:
|What We Want
||What We Don't Want|
8 Verses on Thought
This is a Tibetan Buddhist text composed by Geshe
The 8 Freedoms, together with the 10
Richnesses, are part of the contemplation on having a "precious human birth"
(one of the 4
Reminders. Four of the eight freedoms concern freedom from birth in
non-human states where there is no opportunity (i.e., in lower realms) or
inclination (i.e., in celestial realms) to practice dharma, and the other four
are freedoms from states of human existence where there is no freedom to
The first five
consciousnesses correspond to the five (physical) senses. The sixth
consciousness (i.e.,our ordinary mind) integrates the perceptions of the five
senses into coherent images and makes judgments about the external world. The
seventh consciousness (afflicted or defiled mind) is said to be the active
center of reasoning, calculation, and construction or fabrication of individual
objects. The eighth consciousness is called the "ground" or "alaya"
consciousness. It is the source of all the other consciousnesses, and is also
the storehouse of karmic impressions.
9 Stages of
The Nine Stages are a description of the process of
training the mind in shamatha or "peacefully abiding" meditation.
The Ten Bhumis are stages on the
10 Wholesome Deeds
The Ten Wholesome Deeds are
to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, duplicity, harsh speech,
lying, irresponsible speech, greed, anger, and foolishness (i.e., wrong views or
"stupidity"). In total these ten address conduct of body (first 3), speech (next
4), and mind (last 3).
The Ten Richnesses (also called "Endowments"), together
with the 8
Freedoms, are part of the contemplation on having a "precious human birth".
Of the ten, five are personal factors and five have to do with the society in
which we live.
The Ten Bulls (also called the "Ten
Oxherding Pictures") is a series of illustrations in the Zen tradition, forming
a visual allegory of the path to awakening.
Chain of Causation
Also referred to as "dependent origination", this
teaching from the Abhidharma describes
the series of steps by which all phenomena come to be.
18 Root Bodhisattva Downfalls
The 18 Root
Downfalls are specific negative actions that cause the loss of bodhisattva vows.
They are called "downfalls" because they lead to a decline in spiritual
development and hinder the growth of positive qualities.
37 Practices of a
The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva were enumerated in a
14th-century Tibetan text composed by Ngolchu Thogme Rinpoche.
Prayers to Cultivate Awakening Mind
These are a series of
aspirations to be kept in mind during specific circumstances. Taken from the
Flower Ornament Scripture.
Secondary Bodhisattva Vows
The 46 Secondary Bodhisattva Vows consist
of faulty actions that hinder one's development of the 6
paramitas, but do not cause the loss of bodhisattva vows.
May the merit of this page be dedicated to the liberation of all
sentient beings without one exception!
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness!
they be free from suffering and the root of suffering!
May they not be
separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering!
May they dwell in the
great equanimity, free from passion, aggression, and