This is the fifth in a series of posts regarding how to memorise Dharma Lists. The others can be found through the links on this page.

Let’s review where we are so far in our series of posts. We have encouraged ourselves by looking at the benefits of being able to remember Dharma Lists perfectly. We then noted that some effort will be needed up front, and some ongoing maintenance is essential too (more about that in the next and last post of this series). We learned about the rhyming pairs key, and finally we saw in the last post how to memorise a list by creating memorable images, which are the way the information will stick in our minds.

When we come to lists with more than ten items, we need to develop our approach slightly and combine images. Generally, for the numbers 11 to 19 I imagine scenes in the same way as before, but with a massive bun in the frame. As a bun is rounded on top, I kind of imagine each scene takes place on the surface of a massive bun, as if the bun were a small planet.

For example, the 11th Root Downfall of the Bodhisattva Vows is: Explaining emptiness to those who are likely to misunderstand.

An image which suits this is as follows:

I am standing on a massive bun (indicating the first ‘1’ in 11). In front of me is a  game of Downfall which has a tail like a root. The tail actually turns into a root, with tiny rootlets sticking out and soil still attached (Root Downfall list). I can smell the soil. There is another bun of normal size (the second ‘1’ in 11) which has a face on it, sitting on top of the Downfall game. I am explaining emptiness to it, and it is looking puzzled (not understanding).

Another example. The 12th Root Downfall of the Bodhisattva Vows is: Causing others to abandon the Mahayana.

An image which suits this is as follows:

A non-Buddhist is standing on a massive bun (indicating the ‘1’ in 12). He is holding a shiny black shoe (indicating the ‘2’ in 12)  in one hand and the Downfall game with its tail like a root (Root Downfall list) in the other. He is ‘shooing’ a monk (Mahayana) away as if he is shooing some chickens away. He’s making ‘Shoo! Shoo!’ noises.

Another example. The 13th Root Downfall of the Bodhisattva Vows is: Causing others to abandon the Pratimoksha.

A non-Buddhist is standing on a massive bun (indicating the ‘1’ in 13). There is a massive tree growing out of the top of the bun, and there he is ordering a monk out of the tree. He is standing there pointing off to the right with the Downfall game (with its root) in his hand, pointing the way.  The miserable monk is leaving while muttering the Pratimoksha Vows. There is a speech bubble coming out of his mouth with the word ‘Pratimoksha’ in it and I can hear him saying ‘I will not kill, I will not steal etc.’.

I am sure you get the idea by now. By the way, when you encounter the number 20 or 30, just use two or three hens in your image.

For items in the 20s I imagine the scene taking place in or on a massive shoe.

It’s a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but it gets easier the more you do it.  These images may seem rather complicated, but once you have used a bit of imagination and established them clearly in your mind, you should be able to conjure them up instantly, ‘seeing’ all their parts simultaneously and understanding the meaning straight away. The best way to find out how it works is to practice, so find some lists and let your imagination run wild!

It is very important when first establishing your image to be focused on creating something that is clear and as simple as possible. Once you have something, you need to focus on it and keep it in your mind for at least 30 seconds. Don’t let any other images creep in! They will interfere with the memory you are trying to create. Keep the image for 30 seconds, and you will never, ever forget it. 30 second’s work for a memory which will last a lifetime – that’s what I call productive!

One more post in this series to go – stay tuned!

Love Vide x