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Lions Roar : January 2018
BEGINNER’S MIND What does it mean to be the student of a Buddhist teacher? I have learned a great deal from the books of a prominent Buddhist teacher, but I’ve never met her. Is it okay if I think of her as my teacher? The relationship between a student and teacher can take different forms. At one level, a Buddhist teacher can be a kind of elder, someone who sets an example for you of mindfulness and compassion and offers you instruction in Buddhist insights and practices. All of these can come from reading a teacher’s books, and in this way it’s entirely sensible to regard someone you’ve made a strong relationship to through their writings as your teacher. At another level, a Buddhist teacher can be someone who takes a personal interest in you and gets to know your habitual tendencies—both your poten- tial and your pitfalls. In that way, acting as a “spiritual friend” or even a guru, the teacher can offer care and counsel, and even intervention if need be, in a way that helps you on your path. To be a student in this way probably requires some sort of personal relationship with the teacher, beyond reading their books or watching videos of their talks. Of course, it’s not necessary to focus all of your energy on just one teacher. Many students have more than one teacher, who play different roles in their lives. If you find the books and talks of a particular teacher are starting to DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER IN BUDDHIST TANTRA the buddha families are a key way to understand and work with emotional ener- gies. Each family represents a particular emotion, which has both a confused aspect (klesha) and an enlightened aspect (wisdom). The families are embodied by 5 pri- mordial buddhas who are arranged in a mandala. The Buddha family is the wisdom of all-encompassing space and the klesha of ignorance. Buddha is associated with open sky and represented by the buddha Vairocana, who is in the center of the mandala and white in color. Vajra is mirror-like wisdom, which reflects reality purely and directly. Its corresponding klesha is anger. Vajra is connected with winter and the element of water and is represented by Akshobhya, who is in the east and is blue. The Ratna family’s wisdom is equanimity and its con- fused manifestation is pride. Ratna is associated with richness, autumn, and generosity and is embodied by Ratnasambhava, who is in the south and is yellow. Padma is discriminating wisdom, which allows us to see clearly what is needed. Its klesha is passion or pos- sessiveness. Padma is associated with spring, blossom- ing, and fire and is embodied by Amitabha Buddha, who is in the west and is red. Karma is all-accomplishing wisdom. Its kleshas are jealousy and envy. Karma is associated with summer and the energy of wind and is represented by Amogha- siddhi, who is in the north and is green. RAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 30