The Three Bodies of Buddha

Buddhisim by the Numbers

The Buddha came to be represented as having “three bodies”:

  1. Dharmakaya – the source of enlightenment and happiness.
  2. Sambhogakaya – the body of bliss or enlightenment.
  3. Nirmanakaya – the historical embodiment of the Buddha.

When he was about to pass away, the Buddha told his disciples, “Dear friends, my physical body will not be here tomorrow, but my teaching body (Dharmakaya) will always be with you. Consider it to be the teacher who never leaves you. Be islands unto yourselves, take refuge in the Dharma. Use the Dharma as your lamp, your island.”

The original meaning of Dharmakaya, the way to realize understanding and love.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

Photo by Benn Bell

Rainstorm

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure: A code to the way of samurai

Photo: Benn Bell

The Three Dharma Seals

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Three Dharma Seals

Impermanence, Non-self, Nirvana

  • From the point of view of time we say “impermanence” and from the point of view of space we say “non-self.”
  • It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent.
  • Nothing is ever lost. Nothing is ever gained.
  • The second dharma seal is non-self. Nothing has a separate existence or separate self. Everything has to inter-be with everything else.
  • When we see that everyone and everything belongs to the same stream of life, our suffering will vanish.
  • Non-self means that you are made of elements which are not you.
  • Nirvana is the third dharma seal. It is the ground of being.
  • “The dharma I offer you is only a raft to help you cross over to the other shore,” said the Buddha.
  • Nirvana is the extinction of all notions.
  • Happy Continuation
  • Eight concepts: birth, death, permanence, dissolution, coming, going, one, many.
  • The practice to end attachment of these eight ideas is called the eight no’s or the middle way.
  • Experience always goes before ideas.
  • Any teaching that does not bear the mark of the Three Dharma Seals, the Four Holy Truths, and the Eightfold Path is not authentically Buddhist.
  • Two Relevancies
    1. Relevance to essence – The three dharma seals: impermanence, non-self, Nirvana.
    2. Relevance must fit the circumstances.
  • Four Standards of Truth
    1. The worldly
    2. The person
    3. Healing
    4. The absolute – No self
  • The Four Reliances
    1. Teaching
    2. Discourses
    3. Meaning
    4. Insight

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

Queen’s Gambit Declined

Back during my Halcyon days when I was not half bad at chess my favorite opening with white was Pawn to King four. This is the old fashioned chess notation which is now known as e4. Now I learn the most popular opening is pawn to queen 4 (d4). Black’s usual response is d5 followed by white’s move to c4. This is what is known as the Queen’s Gambit. Black’s play is either Queen’s Gambit accepted or declined. Thought you would want to know.

Fun chess fact: In the 1927 match for the world championship between Alekhine and Capablanca the Queen’s Gambit declined was played 32 of the 34 games.

Right Concentration

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Concentration

The practice of Right Concentration is to cultivate a mind that is one-pointed. There are two kinds of concentration, active and selective. In active concentration, the mind dwells on whatever is happening in the present moment, even as it changes. The following poem by a Buddhist monk, Huong Hai illustrates active concentration.

              The wind whistles in the bamboo

              And the bamboo dances.

              When the wind stops,

              The bamboo grows still.

              A silver bird

              flies over the autumn lake.

              When it has passed,

              The lake’s surface does not try

              To hold onto the image of the bird.

When we practice active concentration, we welcome whatever comes along. We don’t think about it or long for anything else. We just dwell in the present moment with our whole being. Whatever comes, comes. When the object of our concentration passed our mind remains clear.

When we practice selective concentration, we choose one object and hold onto it. During sitting or walking mediation our attention is focused on our object.

  • We concentrate to make ourselves deeply present
  • Right concentration leads to happiness, and it also leads to Right Action
  • Samadhi means concentration. To practice samadhi is to live deeply in each moment.
  • Mindfulness brings about concentration
  • Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration lift us above he realms of sensual pleasure and craving, and we find ourselves lighter and happier.
  • There are nine levels of meditative concentration. The first four are the Four Dhyanas. They are on the form realm. The next five levels belong to the formless realm.
  • After the fourth dhyana the meditator enters into a deeper experience of concentration.
  • The object of the fifth level of concentration is limitless space. According the Buddha’s teaching, nothing has a separate self.
  • The object of the sixth level of concentration is limitless consciousness.
  • The object of the seventh level of concentration is nothingness.
  • Level eight is neither perception nor non perception
  • Level nine is cessation. Cessation from ignorance in our feelings. From this level is born insight. When someone practices well, the ninth level of concentration shines a light on the reality of things and transforms ignorance.

The Buddha taught many concentration practices. To practice the Concentration on Impermanence, every time you see your beloved see her as impermanent and do your best to make her happy today. The insight into impermanence keeps you from getting caught up in the suffering and craving, attachment, and despair. See and listen to everything with this insight.

According to the Lotus Sutra, we have to live in the historical and ultimate dimensions of reality at the same time. We have to live deeply our life as a wave so we can touch the substance of water in us. We walk, look, breathe, and eat in a way that we touch the absolute dimension of reality. We transcend birth and death and the fears of being and nonbeing, one and many.

Live every moment of your life deeply, and while walking, eating, drinking, and looking at the morning star, you touch the ultimate dimension.

Based on the Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo: Benn Bell

Right Diligence

Buddhism by the Numbers


Right Diligence

Right diligence or right effort is the kind of energy that helps us realize the Noble Eightfold Path. Four practices usually associated with right diligence:

  1. Preventing unwholesome seeds in our store consciousness from arising
  2. Helping unwholesome seeds that have arisen return to our store consciousness
  3. Finding ways to water wholesome seeds in our store consciousness that have not yet arisen
  4. Nourishing the wholesome seeds that have already arisen.

Unwholesome means not conducive to the path. The wholesome seeds of happiness, love, loyalty, and reconciliation need watering every day.

According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into eight parts, including mind consciousness and store consciousness. Store consciousness is described as a field in which every kind of seed can be planted. Seeds of suffering, sorrow, fear, and anger, and seeds of happiness and hope. When these seeds sprout, they manifest in our mind consciousness and when they do, they become stronger.

We need to know our physical and psychological limits. We shouldn’t force ourselves to do ascetic practices or lose ourselves in sensual pleasures. Right Diligence lies in the Middle Way between the extremes of austerity and sensual indulgence. Joy and ease are two factors that are at the heart of Right Diligence.

The following gatha can give us energy to live the day well:

Waking up this morning I smile

24 brand new hours are before me

I vow to live fully in each moment

and look to all beings with eyes of compassion.

The practice of mindful living should be joyful and pleasant.  If you breathe in and out and feel joy and peace, that is right diligence.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Photo credit: Benn Bell