Buddhist Doctrinal Formulae
The Four Noble Truths
The Eight Fold Path
The Three Characteristics of Reality
The Five Constituents of Personality
The Three Refuges
The Causal Chain for Rebirth ("Dependent Co-origination/Pratityasamutpada")
The Three Refuges
The Eighteen Bases of Cognition
The Four Noble Truths
1. Duhkha (“Frustration/stress/suffering)--That life involves frustration and stress, dis-ease, imbalance, and difficulty. This analysis applies to all composite things, including the human being (see skandhas, below).
Diagnosis of the Problem (in medical terms, the disease)
2. The Arising of duhkha (Samudaya)—That it arises because of craving--for sensual desires, existence, or cessation of existence.
Identifying the root cause of the Problem (Pathogen)
3. Stopping or Cessation of duhkha (Nirodha)--comes through cutting off this craving
Giving the Solution to the Problem (Remedy)
4. The 8 Fold Path (Marga)-- Gives the specific path to follow to cut off this craving.
Method to Implement the Solution (Course of treatment).
The 8 Fold Path
Right (i.e., proper, correct) View
Moral Action (Sila)
The Three Marks (trilaksana)
All manifestations of phenomenal reality are:
1. Impermanent (anitya)--i.e., produced by causes, not self-subsistent, and subject to eventual decay. This does not deny their provisional reality WHILE they are in existence, what it does deny is that anything is impervious to change.
2. Frustrating (duhkha)--Because human beings strive to attain permanent happiness in an impermanent world, this inevitably creates frustration, dissatisfaction, stress, and difficulty.
3. Without Self (anatman)--The human being is just as impermanent as all other temporal phenomena. Buddhists do not deny the existence of a provisional personality, what they deny is the existence of an eternal, unchanging self. Instead, the human personality is seen as the aggregate of the Five skandhas (see below).
The Five Constituents of Personality (Skandhas/"heaps")
1. Material form (rupa): This of course, changes over time (think of the difference ten years makes), but on a day-to-day level remains fairly constant.
2. Feeling/Sensation (vedana): This refers to the raw data transmitted by the sense organs (which obviously changes drastically, depending on what one happens to be sensing at the moment--pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral sensations.
3. Perception/Notions (sanjna):. This is when the mind interprets and classifies the raw data given by the senses. This too obviously depends on what one is experiencing at the moment
4. Dispositions/tendencies/karmic impulses (samskara): These are literally the "traces" of our past behavior, and reflect (and are caused by) habitual patterns of thought, behavior, and ways of viewing the world. Like all other habits, these are subject to change.
5. Consciousness (Vijnana): In this case, not an abiding and unchanging "witness" consciousness (said by Hindus to be one of the features of the atman), but the limited consciousness OF SOMETHING caused by the operation of one of the sense-organs.
The Causal Chain for Rebirth
1. Ignorance (avidya)
12. Old Age/Death
11. Birth (Jati)
10. Becoming (Bhava)
9. Grasping (upadana)
8. Craving (trsna/"thirst")
2. Karmic Traces (samskara)
3. Consciousness (Vijnana)
4. Name and Form
5. The Six Senses (sadayatana)
6. Contact (sparsa)
7. Perception (Vedana)
Ignorance (of this
causal process, pratitya-samutpada)
Karmic Impulses (mental habits, tendencies)
|Past causes determined by past desires|
Consciousness (or Awareness)
Name/form--mental and material identity
Six sense spheres
Contact, touch (with sense objects)
|Results of the past effected in the present|
Craving (lit. "thirst")
|Present causes effecting the future|
Old age, Death, Etc.
|Future effect of present causes|
The 18 Bases of Cognition
The Three Refuges (each repeated 3x)
1. "I take refuge in the Buddha," (Buddham sharanam gacchami): the Enlightened One, the Teacher, the one whose life gives living proof that it is possible to transcend the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
2. "I take refuge in the Dharma" (Dharmam sharanam gacchami), the Teaching of the Buddha detailing the path to the attainment of Nirvana
3. "I take refuge in the Sangha” (Sangham sharanam gacchami), the "association" of those monastic and lay disciples of the Buddha committed to following the Dharma.