Exploring the Depths of Buddhist Thought: An Infographic Guide

An infographical flyover of key Buddhist thought, detailing notions of enlightenment, higher states of consciousness and the principle of ‘dependent origination‘.

Originally created in 2014 for my book, Knowledge is Beautiful, this infographic was part of my personal exploration of meditation (which often leads to Buddhist mind-training techniques). And a reflection of the book’s theme: visualising “knowledge” beyond typical Western definitions. The goal was to visualise not-often-charted aspects of Buddhist thought (with the minimum of Sanskrit terminology).

» See the infographic

Here the graphic has been repurposed for web and updated with fresh understandings and extra details I’ve gleaned in recent years. Especially around the central Buddhist concept of ‘dependent origination’ and higher states of consciousness states known as jhanas – and how they may correlate with neuroscience’s modelling of the moment-by-moment ‘rendering’ of consciousness by the brain. (see Laukkonen 2023 study PDF or summary article)

While my personal engagement with the dharma never really progressed beyond “buffet buddhism” 🙂 sampling practices here and there, I remain fascinated by the rigor and esoteric scaffolding underpinning the Buddhist schema – and how it really bears out if you’re able to just sit, meditate and introspect your sensory experience (usually for days!).

Despite substantial epistemological differences, interesting research continues around the parallels between Eastern introspective insights and Western neuroscience. If you’re intrigued, starting with the work of Shinzen Young might prove … enlightening.

David McCandless