Characteristics of the Five Buddha Families Chart


The Five Buddha Families is a Buddhist teaching that suggests the view of existence as a mandala, a composite of five main energies or ‘families’ of Buddhas. Each family is unique, indispensable and complements the others. Each aspect of reality, every animal, person, thought/word/deed, conflict, action can be viewed as a composite of the five, each in different balances and levels of constraint or liberation, delusion or realization. When viewed holistically, realized and unrealized potential energies can be discerned and invoked through practice of chants, prayer or visualization or other creative means. The chart below lays out the basic characteristics of the five Buddha Families.

The Five Buddha Families is a fundamental teaching in Zen Peacemakers activities. Founder Zen Master Bernie Glassman developed Bearing Witness retreats as well as social enterprises such as Greyston, based on these teachings, ever reaching to a finer articulation of the needs of those he served.

More on the Five Buddha Families on Lion’s Roar Online

Buddha Vajra Ratna Padma Karma
Family Member Me Brother Father Mother Sister
ZPO Family Foundation Study Livelihood Relationship Social Action
Color White Blue Yellow Red Green
Skandha Form Story Line Feeling Perception Conception
Element Space Water Earth Fire Wind
Realm Animals Hell Hungry Ghost Human Fighting Spirit
Paramita Patience & Samadhi Wisdom & Knowledge Generosity & Power Effort & Upaya Right Action & Vow
Precept Non Killing & Ill speaking of 3 Treasures Non Ignorance & Anger Non Stealing & Greed Non Lying & Stinginess Non Blaming, Errors & Faults
Awarenesses Enjoying Serenity & Practicing Samadhi Right Thought & Wisdom Few Desires & Being Satisfied Idle Talk Meticulous Effort
Eight-Fold Path Mindfulness & Concentration Views Livelihood & Effort Speech Intentions & Action
Image Shakyamuni Manjusri Mahakasyapa Formless Forms Avalokitesvara
Tathagata Vairocana Akshobhya Ratnasambhava Amitabha Amoghasiddhi
Dakini Akasadhatis Logana Mamaki Pandaravisin Tara
Sutra Shobogenzo Wisdom Avatamsakra Lotus Bagahavad Gita
Wisdom All Pervading Space Mirror Like All Enriching Discriminating Awareness All Accomplish-ing Action
Poison Ignorance Anger Pride Greed Jealousy
Character-istics Dullness All-Pervading Foundation Sedate Precision Textures Relationships Systemizer Fertility Earthiness Depth Domineering Acquiring Union Facade Communication Compassion Seduction Efficacious Openness Energy Controlling
Human Activity Religion Education Business Art Politics
Direction Center East South West North
Season Winter Autumn Early Spring Summer
Time of Day Midnight Dawn Mid-Morning Noon Dusk
Symbol Wheel Vajra Lion Dance Jewel Elephant Adornments Lotus Peacock Song Sword Garuda Food
Mineral Crystal Gold Amber
Bodhisattva Jizo Samantabhadra Avalokiteshvara
Smell Flowers Incense Candle Perfume
Inner Element Complexion Fluids Flesh Heat Breath



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Characteristics of the Five Buddha Families Chart

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