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Lions Roar : May 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 45 view of where we are going but also leaves room for us to explore. Along with a general map of the territory, we need a good guide for our journey who can point the way. This guide should have explored the region so thoroughly that he or she no longer needs an external map. Their familiarity with the terrain is so thorough that they have developed a kind of internal map, like an inner instinctual compass. But although they no longer need a map themselves, such guides recognize the value of maps for newcomers, as well as the limitations of relying on maps. On my own journey, I have been fortunate to encounter both a guide and a map. In my case, the guide is the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the terrain is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the map is the teachings on the stages of the path. Vehicles In the Vajrayana tradition, one’s journey can be described in terms of three main vehicles, or yanas. The first is the Hinayana path of individual liberation, the second is the Mahayana path of greater openness and compassion, and the third is the Vajrayana path of indestructible wakefulness. Each yana has its own integrity and completeness, and at the same time they form a unified system. Although any one of the three can be studied and practiced separately, the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana are in fact expressions of a single path. The dynamic nature of this model is exemplified by the use of the term yana, vehicle, rather than more static terms such as steps or stages. When you get into a vehicle, you definitely expect it to move along and carry you forward. Likewise, in the three-yana journey you are continually moving forward. There is an organic quality to the three-yana progression, in the sense that with a little care each experience on the spiritual path naturally evolves and grows. At the same time, as you progress along the path, you do not drop the previous yana as you move on to the next one. Vajrayana teachers also liken the three yanas to building a house. Here, the Hinayana provides the foundation, the connec- tion with the Earth. There is no way to build a solid house with- out a foundation—it is what you build first, and it is the ballast or support for the whole structure. But a foundation alone is not a house; you need walls and windows and doors. This is like the Mahayana, for it provides the possibility of hospitality and a means of communication and exchange with the world. And The spiritual path is like any journey we take into uncharted territory—we need a map, a vehicle, and a guide to reach our destination. JUDY LIEF takes us on the three-yana journey of Vajrayana Buddhism. I LLUSTRATIONS BY SYDNEY SMITH