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Lions Roar : March 2016
A soul is considered to be something at our core that is single, independent, and unchang- ing. This isn’t just a religious belief; deep down, we all believe we have a soul. When I feel hurt, I must believe there is a separate “me” that is being hurt. In that sense, soul, self, and ego all refer to the same thing—our belief in a single, independent, and unchanging “me,” whether mundane or transcendent. The Buddha said that all phenomena— including us—are conditioned, and all condi- tioned phenomena are impermanent. Far from being single, independent, and unchanging, we are made up of many parts, a product of causes and conditions, and con- stantly changing. Yet Buddhism does say we have an essential nature that transcends condi- tioned or material existence. In the Mahayana, this is called buddhanature, the open expanse of awakeness in which all good qualities reside. Is this just another version of a soul? Well, it is if you think of it that way— if you try to identify yourself with it. But in reality, buddhanature is said to be empty of all concepts of self and identity, as well as birth, death, time, space, etc. To be anatman, if you will. Do Buddhists raise their children to be Buddhists too? In traditional Buddhist societies, Buddhism is integrated into the entire culture—its ceremonies, art, symbols, val- ues, and structure, so it is natural for par- ents to raise their children as Buddhists. It’s different for so-called convert Bud- dhists in the West. Generally, they were attracted to Buddhism as an individual spiritual path, not as a culture. Now in its third generation, Western Buddhism is only beginning to develop the kind of Buddhist culture that encompasses children and families. An example is Children’s Day, created by the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche as a Buddhist alternative to Christmas for children in the Shambhala community. For convert Buddhist parents, it’s very much an individual decision whether to bring up their children formally as Buddhists. Many leave it up to their children to decide when they’re old enough whether to follow their par- ents’ path. Some may teach their children meditation or ask them to partici- pate in small ceremonies at home or in their community. But all parents hope to pass along to their children, whatever path they eventually take, the values of love, compassion, and wisdom that are at the heart of Buddhism. ♦ WHO? WHAT? WHERE? PADMASAMBHAVA Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an Indian tantric master who played a major role in bringing Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. The subject of many myths and legends, little is known about him historically. During the reign of King Trisong Detsen, Padmasambhava helped establish the country’s first Buddhist monastery in Samye and he is considered the founder of the Nyingma (“ancient”) school, the oldest of the four major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to his historical role, Padmasambhava is an important symbol of enlightenment in the Dzogchen teachings of the Nyingma lineage, and his image is often visualized as an object of meditation. He is said to have had eight manifestations, including both the peaceful and wrathful forms. For example, he rides on a pregnant tigress in the fierce form of Dorje Drolo, which he assumed to bring the local deities and guard- ians of Bhutan under his control. Padmasambhava is closely associated with the terma tradition of the Nyingma school, in which specially empowered lineage holders called tertons discover secret teachings or texts. Many of these texts are attributed to Padmasambhava himself, who is said to have hidden them in the physical world or in the mind- stream of tertons. Padmasambhava’s main consort was Yeshe Tsogyal, another semi-legendary figure who was an impor- tant realized teacher in her own right. She received Dzogchen teachings directly from Padmasambhava and a number of important texts are attributed to her. Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at