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Tibetan Buddhism

Examples of Integrated, Multi-set Concept Schemes (Annex 4)

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See other Examples of Integrated, Multi-set Concept Schemes. The concept scheme described here is discussed in the paper on: Patterns of N-foldness: comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation. This was prepared for a sub-project meeting of the Forms of Presentation group of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University (UNU). The annexes were published in Patterns of Conceptual Integration. Brussels, UIA, 1984, pp. 161-204

Tibetan Buddhism has developed a highly detailed integrated set of concept sets. They acquired their present form approximately five centuries ago. The points below are extracted from two books:

It should be noted that each concept is usually associated with: an image (often of a specific deity), a tone, a syllable. Concept sets are often associated with complex images (composed of many deities). Great stress is placed on the procedures of transferring from one set to another! these will not be considered here.

0.1 "The symbols which are of interest to us here are not so much the individual numbers, colours, or forms, but rather the number and aspects of the divine worlds that appear in the visions. The Tibetans have always had a predilection for gathering together important concepts or groups of teachings into number- values. As a simple example we could mention "the three deities of long life," or the "four blisses" of yoga...The language of the religious texts and especially of the great treatises of Tibet is extremely rich in such group- concepts. It is understandable that as definite verses they could be more easily remembered...(and) therefore afford us an important classification and overview.

We generally find in the writings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead a progression from the number one to the number two (as the most important tantric polarity), the number three (as trinity), the number four as quaternity (or as a unity from out of the trinity), and the number five as the centering of the quaternity and the tantric uniting of the cosmological and psychological opposites. This leads in its double aspect to the number ten. There then follow the equally significant symbolic groupings under the number six, under seven unities, and finally various kinds of symbolic groupings of eight...It is clear, just from an overview of these symbolic groups, that the Tibetan Book of the Dead... has synthesized this knowledge about the direction of awareness into a harmonious unity as a guide through the bardo (after-life)". (Lauf, pp. 48-9)

2.1 "All the deities of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and in fact most deities in the Buddhist-Tantric system of India, can be represented as a unity of polarities. In the lower stages of Buddhist Yoga the deities are considered in their single aspect...The middles stages teach alternating realization of either the masculine or the femine aspects of the buddhas and initiation deities...In the higher and highest Tantras the student experiences teachings connected with the simultaneously appearing double aspects of deity and female deity in tantric embrace." ( - Lauf, p. 52)

2.2 "The buddha (as path) and the female partner (as goal) are the two concepts which serve to describe the process of meditation and ultimately also every activity." (Lauf, p. 52)

2.3 "Even more extensive is the next double aspect, in which buddhas and bodhis- attvas can assume a peaceful or a wrathful form of emanation....They are related to two ways that human awareness manifests, namely, as pure knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment on the one hand, and intellectual wisdom, discrim- inating thought, and rationality on the other....The terrifying deities are seen as forms of the intellect which appear as long as it is involved in the dualistlc struggle within itself of "for and against"."(Lauf, pp. 52-3)

2.4 "The two causes of suffering are Karma and Klesas (hindrances)."(Dhargyey. p.30)

3.1 Doctrine of the "three bodies" (trikaya):

  • supernatural, transcending, radiating form
  • timeless, self-positing form (Lauf, p. 23)
  • 3.2 "In the Tibetan Book of the Dead the tikaya symbolism is closely related to the three bardo (after-life) experiences which we saw to be planes of transformation in the world beyond." (Lauf, p. 54)

    3.3 "In Tibetan texts we often find mention of the "three jewels", which are supported by many layers of meaning....(for example)...the Buddha, the teachings, and the community of disciples." (Lauf. p. 54)

    3.4 "We thereby come to the third well known triad, which is a complex expression of three different processes of awareness. The religious teachings are to be learned by listening, deepened by contemplation, and actualized by meditation....The threefold practice is one of the foundations of Buddhist teachings."(Lauf, p. 55)

    3.5 "The most important mantric triad in all the holy scriptures and ritual texts of Vajrayana Buddhism is the three seed-syllable, Om Ah Hum." (Lauf, p. 56)

    3.6 "Desire belongs to the three basic faults of human behavior, which become the causes of all other failings and thereby of all suffering. The other two are hatred and ignorance."(Lauf, p. 57). They correspond to the 3 doors of the body: body,i speech, and mind. (Dhargyey, p. 20)

    3.7 There are 3 groups of deities, corresponding to the 3 failings and to the 3 lotus centres (chakras): 58 wrathful deities. 5 vidyadharas (with prajna), and 42 peaceful deities. (Lauf, p. 59)

    3.8 3 kinds of suffering experienced by all sentient beings: misery, change, and extensiveness (Ohargyey, p. 20)

    4.1 4 noble truths: truth of suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering, path to the cessation of suffering. (Dhargyey, p. 20)

    4.2 4 qualifications of suffering:

    4.3 4 aspects of the arising of suffering: cause, source, circumstances, violent development or growth. (Dhargyey, p. 29-30)

    4.4 4 opponent powers to be employed whenever one of the 10 non-virtuous acts is committed:

    4.5 "An interesting iconographie and psychological phenomenon in the Tibetan Book of the Dead are the deities known as the four Guardians....(which) appear as masculine-femine pairs....As a rule, the four male Guardians point towards the "four limitless ultimate questions"....the four female Guardians usually stand for the "four divine boundless states". Both groups together constitute the most important elements of a meditational practice that in every respect transcends the individual personality and which is said tolead to correct insight into the right kind of awareness and of corresponding human behavior." (Lauf, p. 60)

    4.6 "The "four limitless ultimate questions" concern the meaning of birth and death, of immortality and extinction (of life), of Being and Not-Being, and of the phenomenal world and emptiness. These are...the questions that determine one's fate...They are associated in their meaning with the well Known "four infinities"..7(Lauf, p. 60)

    4.7 "...the "four divine boundless states"....are the most important qualities or ways of acting for leading a spiritual life in the sense of Buddhist teachings. The "four divine boundless states" are the conscious development of kindness, compassion, sympathy, and equanimity." (Lauf, pp. 60-1)

    4.8 "A further fact worth noting is the fourfold arrangement of the visions of the 110 deities of the bardo. The 49 days of the after-death state until the next incarnation include four groups of seven days in which the peaceful deities appear (7 days), the wrathful deities appear (7 days), and all the deities together (14 days)." (Lauf, p. 61)

    4.9 "The "four consecrations"...constitute for us the most important foundation for an understanding of the "four bodies", which we localized in four different lotus centers as planes of psychic development of spiritual powers." (Lauf, pp. 61-2) The consecrations noted are: profane to consecrated body, verbal plane to pure word, heartto spiritual center, earthly man to universal man. (p. 62)

    4.10 4 categories of the noble eightfold path:

    5.1 "The foundation of all mándalas is the scheme of the five Tathagatas or transcendent Buddhas, who, together with their female counterparts, the Buddha-Dakinis, open up a realm of symbolism rich in interrelationships....The five Tathagatas correspond to the five skandhas or groups of human personality, which stands at the center of the Buddhist analysis of Being....The five Tathagatas as emanations of the five transcendent wisdoms are each assigned to a specific psychic center, in order to eliminate in it, by means of certain meditative practices, one of the five poisons, or hindrances, which obstruct the path towards enlightenment and liberation." (lauf, pp. 65-6)

    5.2 5 interruptions or hindrances constituting obstacles to the development of enlightenment: laziness

    5.3 5 powers needed for development of understanding:

    5.4 5 paths of Mahayana Buddhism: direct understanding of Dharma, of the profound meaning of Dharma, of Truth, post-meditational understanding of Truth, and the wisdom of abandonment of both types of mental obstacles (Dhargyey, p. 198)

    5.5 5 wisdoms: emptiness, mirror-like wisdom, equanimity, clear sight, perfected activity (Lauf, p. 164)

    5.6 "The five groups, or skandhos of the personality are the body as a physical form, sensation, perception, motivation, and awareness. These five groups mutually interact and form what we call the human personality, or the presence of the individual in the world." (Lauf, p. 18)

    5.7 5 planes of human activity: body, speech, mind, deserving action (merit), and deed (Karma) (Lauf, pp. 66-8)

    5.8 5 psychic centers associated with the 5 Tathagatas: "In the lotus centers in the skull, the throat, the heart, the navel, and the perineum are situated the spiritual forces...that oppose the five hindrances....They correspond to a descending arrangment of tantric psychophysical symbols for the transformation of the five planes of human activity..." (Lauf, p. 66)

    5.9 5 groups of deities: 58 wrathful deities, 5 wisdom-possessing deities, 42 peaceful deities, 5 forms of Dakinis, one wrathful protective deity (Lauf, p. 68)

    5.10 "Before entering this world, Buddha made five observations concerning the time, place, caste, lineage and mother to whom he would be born." (Dhargyey, p. 13) This may be compared with the "five certain conditions that invariably accompany the (body of bliss): place...discourses...physical of disciples...time." (Dhargyey, p. 206)

    6.1 "In the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead there is a detailed description of the six realms of incarnation which are called the wheel of life. This sixfold world opens up to the wandering awareness-principle.... We can describe the six realms of existence as symbols of the working out of human vices....The six forms of existence appear as one-sided exaggerations of human ways of behaving and can be derived from the six failings or hindrances. They are represented pictorially as the worlds of gods, titans, human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and denizens of hell." (Lauf, pp. 68-70)

    6.2 6 primary hindrances which result in continued wandering in illusion: ignorance, desire and attachment, anger and hatred, pride, doubting truth, false views (delusions)." (Dhargyey, p. 33)

    6.3 6 realms of existence: 3 upper, 3 lower (18 hells, prêta realm, animal realm) (Dhargyey, p. 53)

    6.4 6 perfections or kinds of conduct: giving, morality, patience, enthusiastic perseverance, samadhi, discriminating wisdom (Dhargyey, pp. 130-161)

    6.5 6 forces employed to attain the 9 mental stages of enlightenment:

    6.6 6 forms of suffering experienced by all beings: uncertainty, greed, necessity of repeatedly abandoning the body, conception, uncertain level of future birth, lack of friends or companionship (Dhargyey, pp. 26-28)

    6.7 6 kinds of primary consciousness: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, mental. (Dhargyey, p. 31)

    6.8 6 categories of secondary consciousness, which is of 51 types: enabling use of object of perception t5), understanding things individually (5), virtuous mind (11), primary hindrances (6), secondary hindrances (20), remainder (4). (Dhargyey, 31-5]

    6.9 "Knowledge required for the path through the intermediate realm of the bardo (after-life) is six-fold:

    Here we have a series of very subtle pieces of Knowledge which all relate to how the path through the dangers of the bardo can be traversed with awareness." (Lauf, p. 22)

    6.10 6 kinds of bardo intermediate state:

    6.11 6 Buddhas of the bhavacakra, associated with the B syllables of the great mantra [Lauf, 7G-71)

    6.12 Om ma ni pad me hum: "This six-syllable mantra is for every Tibetan the most holy invocation of...(the great Bodhisattva of active compassion, the merciful onlooker)...who is directly- associated with the six worlds." (Lauf, 70)

    6.13 6 wisdoms: meditation, moral education, energy, knowledge, generosity, equanimity. (Lauf, p. 123) (Note also 6.4, above)

    7.1 "It is generally accepted that the total time of the intermediate state (bardo) between two successive earthly incarnations is 49 days. The various cycles of emanations of the deities divide this time into a rhythm that is always determined by the number seven." (Lauf, pp. 95-6)

    7.2 7 causes of enlightenment:

    8.1 8 aspects of suffering relating primarily to that of mankind:

    8.2 8 freedoms of a fully endowed human body:

    8.3 8 wordly practices to be renounced:

    8 beneficial qualities to the attainment of higher states of existence (Dhargyey, pp. 95-6)

    8.5 8 conditions essential for attaining enlightenment (Dhargyey, pp. 147-8)

    8.6 8 remedies to the 5 hindrances which are obstacles to the development of enlightenment (Dhargyey, p. 149)

    8.7 8 characteristics of a true refuge, as possessed by the Buddha (Dhargyey, pp. 61-2)

    8.8 Eight-petalled lotus of the heart chakra, the place of spiritual actualizations in the dharmakaya (Lauf, p. 28)

    8.9 8 great Bodhisattvas who rule over the 8 kinds of awareness and are associated with 8 Bodhisattva-Dakinis (forming a group of 16 deities). The latter are associated with the 8 realms of operation of these Kinds of awareness. "Thereby the potential inner world of amn is addressed, as well as his outer world with which he is connected by the eight functions of awareness. The synthesis of all these connections corresponds to complete detachment from the material world as a means toward liberation." (Lauf, p. 114)

    8.10 8 kinds of awareness, corresponding to the 8 Bodhisattvas:

    8.11 8 realms of awareness, corresponding to the 8 Bodhisattva-Dakinis:

    8.12 "With the Fury-like eight wrathful female deities, called the Keurima, we encounter the terrifying aspects of the eight peaceful Bodhisattvas from the first cycle of bardo deities....The Keurima are called "Wisdom-Dakinis of the eight kinds of awareness"." (Lauf, p. 147)

    8.13 "A second group of eight terrifying goddesses are the eight theriomorphic Ma-mo Goddesses or Phr-men-ma, who rule over the eight realms of awareness.... they are the wrathful counterparts to the eight Dakinis of the Bodhisattvas from the first cycle of peaceful deities." (Lauf, p. 148)

    8.14 Noble eightfold path:

    9.1 9 points to be remembered concerning death (Dhargyey, pp. 21-2)

    9.2 9 categories of inborn delusion (of which there are 108) to be abandoned. (Dhargyey, p. 204)

    9.3 9 mental stages of enlightenment:

    10.1 10 endowments of a fully endowed human body! 5 personal, 5 circumstantial. (Dhargyey, p. 40)

    10.2 10 non-virtuous acts (for each of which there are three Kinds of effect):

    10.3 10 innermost jewels: entrustments (4), convictions (3), changes in living status (4). COhargyey, p. 46)

    10.4 10 Bodhisattvabhumis or stages of enlightenment (Ohargyey, pp. 202-3)

    10.5 10 powers of understanding characteristic of full enlightenment (Dhargyey, p. 209-211)

    11.1 11 kinds of mind of virtue (Dhargyey, pp. 32-3)

    11.2 11-round contemplation exercise (Dhargyey, pp. 123-4)

    11.3 11 ways of helping sentient beings (Dhargyey, pp. 133-4)

    11.4 "In the Tibetan Book of the Dead Avalokitesvara appears as the bringer of salvation who shows the path of release to the beings in the six worlds. We find him described there...more often in his eleven-headed and eight- armed form as Avalokitesvara of great compassion."(Lauf, p. 70)

    12.1 12 principal deeds of the Buddha involving the 3 doors of body, speech, and mind. (Dhargyey, p.13-19)

    12.2 12 links of interdependent origination whereby sentient beings come into existence:

    13.1 13 golden doctrines of Saikya (Ohargyey, p.5)

    13.2 Dhamaraja, the judge of death, has 13 demonic assistants who help him make judgment over the dead person's individual karma. (Lauf, pp. 135-6)

    16.1 16-petalled lotus of the throat center, the center of the activity of Sambhogakaya, the verbal plane of mantras and invocations to the transcendent buddhas. (Lauf, p. 28)

    16.2 Combined group of 8 Bodhisattvas and 8 Bodhisattva-Dakinis (Lauf. p. 114)

    16.3 16 incorrect views (in 4 groups) concerning the four noble truths. (Ohargyey, p. 37-38)

    17.1 The Tibetan Book of the Dead is divided into 17 chapters (Lauf, p. 3)

    18.1 18 characteristics of a fully endowed human body:

    18.2 18 kinds of Knowledge characteristic of Buddhas (Dhargyey, pp. 211-213)

    18.3 18 states of hell: hot hells [8), cold hells (8), occasional hells (2) (Dhargyey, pp. 53-6)

    20.1 20 secondary hindrances binding people to illusion:

    26.1 26 difficulties or hindrances which must be eliminated before nirvana (Dhargyey, p. 36)

    28.1 28 powerful, animal-headed goddesses, also called the 28 flesh-eating Dakinis (Lauf, pp. 150-2)

    30.1 30 effects of the 10 non-virtuous acts. (Dhargyey, pp. 87-9)

    32.1 32 major characteristics signifying the Buddhas supreme attainment (Dhargyey, p. 64)

    32.2 Topmost 32-petalled lotus, the plane of intellectual experience and discrimin- ating thought, (lauf, p. 28)

    38.1 38 chapters of a particular edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (L,auf, p.3) 42.1 42 peaceful deities, as emanations of the heart (Lauf, pp. 99-140)

    49.1 "It is generally accepted that the total time of the intermediate state (bardo) between two successive earthly incarnations is 49 days. " (Lauf, p. 95)

    51.1 51 kinds of secondary consciousness (Dhargyey, pp. 31-35)

    58.1 58 wrathful deities, as emanations of the intellect (Lauf, pp. 141-155)

    64.1 Navel, solar plexus chakra, 64-petalled lotus, the focus of the emanations of physical plane of development of action and karmic activity (Lauf. p. 28)

    80.1 80 minor characteristics signifying the Buddhas supreme achievement (Dhargyey, p. 64)

    100.1 58 wrathful and 42 peaceful deities (Lauf, p. 112)

    108.1 108 inborn delusions to be abandoned (Dhargyey, p. 204)

    110.1 110 qualities attained on path of insight (Dhargyey. p. 197)

    110.2 "In the bardo (after-life) the 110 deities of the mándalas appear as emanations from the three centers of intellect (58 wrathful deities), speech (10 wisdom deities and dakinis), and heart (42 peaceful deities). We must conceive the three ranks of deities as complementary Images whose to raise the totality of human awareness out of the realm of ignorance..." (Lauf, p.58)

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