What I have learned

เอียน พิชฟอร์ด, modified 7 Months ago at 8/16/22 10:33 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/14/22 4:56 AM

What I have learned

Posts: 39 Join Date: 2/10/20 Recent Posts
I have been adding summaries, timestamps, and hashtags to the Dhammarato YouTube channel [1] for about eight months now so I thought it would be a good time to summarise what I've learned about how the Dhamma is taught in the lineage of Buddhadāsa. Being an admirer of the Tibetan Wheel of Life as an example of how a great deal of information can be conveyed in a picture here's my attempt at a minimalist approach:

The fundamental division is between dukkha and dukkha-nirodha or between knowledge and deliverance, i.e., understanding the origin of dukkha in the stream of mind moments, using dependent origination as the analytical framework, and removing dukkha/unwholesome thoughts **immediately** through application of the noble eightfold path. The first knowledge of the sotāpan is thus knowledge and vision of what is and is not the path. [2]

Ānāpānasati, a systematic approach to **controlling** the breath and the thoughts and thereby to controlling the feelings, is the way we practice the noble eightfold path, fulfill the four foundations of mindfulness, and develop the seven factors of awakening. [3]

In this way ānāpānasati is a comprehensive method encompassing samatha and vipassanā in the first three tetrads and vipassanā exclusively in the fourth tetrad. The second and third tetrads embrace the jhāna.

Mistranslations are deemed to be a big hazard in understanding the Dhamma: dukkha is not suffering, samādhi is not concentration, sati is not mindfulness, ditthi is not understanding, and sankappa is not thought. The aim of practice is skill development, not attainments, and no state is permanent, although, of course, at any particular moment some people are more skilled than others.

The practice achieves right noble unification of mind (sammā samādhi) with its supports (sammā ditthi, sammā sati, sammā vāyāma, sammā sankappa) and features (sammā vācā, sammā kammanta, samma ājiva). [3] Dhammarato often uses the analogy of constructing a teepee. [4]

That's the extent of my understanding in terms of a concise overview. It's the first time I've understood why the Dhamma is described in the suttas as akālika or "immediately effective".

Dhammarato still offers to teach the Dhamma through free skype calls to anyone who asks. [5] A second YouTube channel of summary videos is available [6], and the Open Sangha Foundation, a project to promote friendship and community in Western Buddhism, is about to apply for 501(c)(3) status. [7]


1]. https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCjxg5GJFsRqnS-YLTzyrjLQ
2]. https://suttacentral.net/mn48
3]. https://suttacentral.net/mn117
4]. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Teepee
5]. dhammarato@yahoo.com
6]. https://www.youtube.com/c/DhammaDudes
7]. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgf9EJX8EU0zX9Rasd45n_w
เอียน พิชฟอร์ด, modified 7 Months ago at 8/16/22 10:32 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/16/22 10:29 PM

RE: What I have learned

Posts: 39 Join Date: 2/10/20 Recent Posts
I thought I would add this as it goes well with the summary above.

Paticcasamuppāda - dependent origination [1] - is the core teaching that the Buddha is said to have contemplated on the night of his awakening. and throughout his life [2]. It’s hard to contemplate something if you can’t remember it so here’s a simple mnemonic based on the images on the famous Tibetan Wheel of Life: imagine a clock face:

1 o’clock - a blind man stumbling through a forest - avijjā (ignorance)
2 o’clock - a potter at the wheel surrounded by pots, some beautiful, some misshapen, some broken - sankhāra (impression, formation, concoction, memory, habit etc)
3 o’clock - a monkey swinging from branch to branch - viññāna (animated sense consciousness)
4 o’clock - two men in a boat, one punting the boat along, one just lying prone - nāmarūpa (perception, mental creation system, fusing name and form)
5 o’clock - a house with five windows and a door - salāyatana (percept, mental creation)
6 o’clock - a couple lost in an embrace - phassa (contact, the union of eye conscious, eye, and sights etc etc)
7 o’clock - a man with an arrow stuck is his eye - vedanā (feeling tone)
8 o’clock - an enormously overweight man at a table laden with food and drink - tanhā (thirst, craving)
9 o’clock - someone picking fruit and placing it into overflowing baskets - upādāna (clinging, grasping)
10 o’clock - a pregnant woman - bhava (becoming a needy individualised ego)
11 o’clock - a mother with an infant - jāti (“birth” into a self-centred, needy, woeful state)
12 o’clock - a corpse - jarāmarana (dukkha)

​​​​​​​Add colour, vivid imagery, and motion, and then associate it clearly with the number on the dial and/or the images with each other in sequence.  It should all stick in about 10-15 minutes. If you like you can add in the ten powers from the Upanisasutta, which run from dukkha to liberation. [3]


1]. https://suttacentral.net/MN38
2]. https://suttacentral.net/sn12.45
3]. https://suttacentral.net/sn12.23
เอียน พิชฟอร์ด, modified 7 Months ago at 8/19/22 6:54 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/19/22 6:54 AM

RE: What I have learned

Posts: 39 Join Date: 2/10/20 Recent Posts
To conclude this thread: many Buddhists in the West, including me, don't read the suttas, and the fact that there are thousands of them is a bit off-putting. Here's a list of 43 either reasonably short or very short suttas that cover all of the core teachings of the Buddha. My personal favourites are the summary of the Dhamma by the nun Dhammadinnā (MN 44) and advice on how to teach the Dhamma (MN 139).

1] Rolling Forth the Wheel of Dhamma (https://suttacentral.net/SN56.11) - The Four Noble Truths
2] The Noble Search (https://suttacentral.net/MN26) - Secluded from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities; the jhānas
3] The Longer Discourse on Mindfulness Meditation (https://suttacentral.net/DN22) - The First  Noble Truth, The Noble Eightfold Path, The Five Hindrances, The Seven Awakening Factors
4] The Longer Discourse on the Full-Moon Night (https://suttacentral.net/MN109)- The Five Aggregates and their origins
5] The Longer Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint (https://suttacentral.net/MN28)- The Four Primary Elements, Dependent Origination
6] Immersion (https://suttacentral.net/SN36.1) - The Three Types of Feelings
7] Perspectives (https://suttacentral.net/SN22.56) - The Five Aggregates from four perspectives
8] The Longer Discourse on the Ending of Craving (https://suttacentral.net/MN38) - Dependent Origination
9] Arising (https://suttacentral.net/AN3.136) - The Three Characteristics of Existence
10] The Characteristic of Not-Self (https://suttacentral.net/SN22.59) - The Five Aggregates are impermanent and not-self
11] A Lump of Foam (https://suttacentral.net/SN22.95) - The Five Aggregates are void, hollow, and insubstantial
12] The Longer Discourse on the Mass of Suffering (https://suttacentral.net/MN13) - The Second Noble Truth, gratification, danger, and escape
13] Self-examination (https://suttacentral.net/SN12.66) - The Third Noble Truth
14] Suffering (https://suttacentral.net/SN12.43) - The dependent origination and cessation of suffering
15] With Ānanda (https://suttacentral.net/AN3.32) - Samādhi and nibbāna
16] Extinguished (https://suttacentral.net/AN3.55) - The ending of craving, aversion, and delusion; not hurting ourselves or others
17] A Question About Extinguishment (https://suttacentral.net/SN38.1) - The path ends craving, aversion, and delusion
18] With Soṇa (https://suttacentral.net/AN6.55) - Perfected ones are dedicated to renunciation, seclusion, kindness, the ending of craving, the ending of grasping, and to mental clarity
19] The Exposition of Non-Conflict (https://suttacentral.net/MN139) - The Fourth Noble Truth, The Noble Eightfold Path and how to teach it
20] Right View (https://suttacentral.net/MN9) - A noble disciple understands the unskillful, the skillful, and their roots, dependent origination
21] The Shorter Discourse With Māluṅkya (https://suttacentral.net/MN63) - Unprofitable Questions
22] The Longer Discourse With Māluṅkya (https://suttacentral.net/MN64) - The Five Fetters
23] All the Defilements (https://suttacentral.net/MN2) - How to restrain all the defilements, the Stream Enterer
24] The Simile of the Snake (https://suttacentral.net/MN22) - Sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress
25] The Great Forty (https://suttacentral.net/MN117) - Mundane and supermundane understanding of the Dhamma, Right Thought/Attitude
26] With Vacchagotta on Fire (https://suttacentral.net/MN72) - Avoiding convictions
27] The Great Discourse on Causation (https://suttacentral.net/DN15) - Dependent Origination and the self
28] Six By Six (https://suttacentral.net/MN148) - The end of suffering in this life
29] Uneducated (https://suttacentral.net/SN12.62) - The long-term habit of being attached to mind and consciousness
30] With Poṭṭhapāda (https://suttacentral.net/DN9) - How perception arises and ceases
31] The Great Classification (https://suttacentral.net/MN43) - Wisdom should be developed, while consciousness should be completely understood, Right Samādhi
32] With Sāriputta (https://suttacentral.net/AN3.33) - How we should train
33] With Sīha (https://suttacentral.net/AN8.12) - Everything that has a beginning has an end
34] With Cunda (https://suttacentral.net/AN10.176) - Right Speech, Right Action
35] Effort (https://suttacentral.net/AN4.13) - Right Effort
36] Restraint (https://suttacentral.net/AN4.14) - The four right efforts
37] How to Stop Thinking (https://suttacentral.net/MN20) - Five Methods of Expelling Unwholesome Thoughts
38] At Kīṭāgiri (https://suttacentral.net/MN70) - Perfect knowledge is achieved by gradual training, progress, and practice
39] Mindfulness of the Body (https://suttacentral.net/MN119) - Right Mindfulness
40] Mindfulness of Breathing (https://suttacentral.net/MN118) - The 16 steps of ānāpānasati, fulfilling the seven factors of awakening
41] The Level of the Tamed (https://suttacentral.net/MN125)  - Giving up the hindrances, practicing the four foundations of mindfulness, achieving a workable and pliable mind
42] The Shorter Classification (https://suttacentral.net/MN44) - “Unification of the mind is immersion. The four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the foundations of immersion. The four right efforts are the prerequisites for immersion. The cultivation, development, and making much of these very same things is the development of immersion”
43] Development of Immersion (https://suttacentral.net/SN22.5) - A mendicant who has immersion truly understands the origin and ending of form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness.
เอียน พิชฟอร์ด, modified 7 Months ago at 8/23/22 11:53 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/23/22 11:53 AM

RE: What I have learned

Posts: 39 Join Date: 2/10/20 Recent Posts
Although I wouldn't translate "dukkha" as "suffering" this diagram by P A Payutto is a remarkable simplification.

genaro, modified 7 Months ago at 8/23/22 12:52 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/23/22 12:52 PM

RE: What I have learned

Posts: 126 Join Date: 11/23/19 Recent Posts
thanks for the detailed suggestions above, perhaps when i get a 'round-tuit'  i'll follow all those links.

However, that little diagram you posted i think is very useful.

​​​​​​​Who were you aiming at?
Conal, modified 7 Months ago at 8/24/22 9:22 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/24/22 9:22 AM

RE: What I have learned

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/3/17 Recent Posts
Hi Ian, 

Thanks for the sutra list. They can be a bit of a slog so it's nice to have the more relevant ones highlighted. 

Dhammarato seems an interesting fellow too. I have watched him in at least one guru Viking video but not enough to get a real feel for what he's about. Is it just annapanna that he talks about or does he mix in some Samatha as well? I have come to the conclusion that both are necessary for real progress to occur.