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Lions Roar : September 2015
BEGINNER’S MIND What does it mean to call yourself a Buddhist? Are there specific things you have to do or believe, or is it up to you? Of course, anybody is free to draw on Buddhist principles and techniques they find helpful and to think of themselves as a Buddhist if they want. But it’s not a total free-for-all. Buddhists have lots of differing beliefs and practices, but there are a few shared principles that define them as Buddhists. These are the fundamental discoveries the Buddha made, and if you accept their truth, you’re a Buddhist. Thich Nhat Hanh describes them this way: impermanence (everything is always changing), no self (nothing has a solid core or soul), and nirvana (peace is freedom from fixed concepts). In his great book What Makes You Not a Buddhist, Dzongsar Khyentse describes them as: All compounded things are impermanent, all emotions are pain, all things have no inherent exis- tence, and nirvana is beyond concepts. If you accept these principles, you can then make a formal commitment to Buddhism in a ceremony called “taking refuge.” Because nirvana means giving up ego’s futile search for refuge from impermanence and no self, the twist is that you’re taking refuge in not seeking a refuge. If you can do that, you’re really a Buddhist. Does being a Buddhist mean you have to be a vegetarian? Outside of monastic rules, there are really no specific Buddhist dietary restrictions. Some Buddhists are vegetarians, some aren’t. In fact, the Buddha ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS ACCORDING TO MAHAYANA Buddhism, the human form of Shakyamuni Buddha we all know repre- sents only one of the three bodies, or kayas, of the buddhas. These three bodies are different manifesta- tions of enlightened mind, and they are also the true nature of all sentient beings. In fact, the transformation of conventional body, speech, and mind into the three kayas is the basis of the Vajrayana path. Dharmakaya: The Body of Truth The ultimate body, the absolute. It is without form, substance, or concept of any sort, including existence and nonexistence. It is the formless form we enter through the gateless gate. The dharmakaya is, as it says in one Vajrayana chant, “nothing whatever but everything arises from it.” Sambhogakaya: The Body of Enjoyment The body of communication, bliss, and the play of energy, in which enlightened mind manifests as the five wisdoms. As the bridge between the formless and the material, sambhogakaya is the realm of what Thinley Norbu Rinpoche called “nonmaterial spiritual reality.” Nirmanakaya: The Body of Emanation From their limitless compassion, the buddhas appear in a physical body, one that sentient beings can perceive, such as Prince Siddhartha. The buddhas can manifest in any physical form—not simply as spiritual teachers—in response to what beings need. RAYFENWICK SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2015 32