Buddhist Traditions

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    A Sangha-less Sangha Paid Member

    One becomes a Buddhist by going for refuge in the “three gems”—in other words by saying, “I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the dharma, I go for refuge to the sangha.” But what exactly are these three gems? This was a question that vexed the early Buddhist community. When you go for refuge to the Buddha, are you going for refuge to his body, or to his mind? Because that body was the product of ignorance and subject to disintegration, it was not considered suitable as the Buddha-jewel. The Buddha was, however, said to possess certain qualities—such as compassion, concentration, and fearlessness—that are uncontaminated by ignorance. This “body of qualities” (dharmakaya) was deemed the true object of the practice of refuge. More »
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    The Bodhisattva Vows Paid Member

    The Great Vows, known as the Bodhisattva Vows, probably originated in China around the sixth century and may have been derived from an earlier Sanskrit gatha (a four-line verse that sums up an aspect of the dharma, and is often a vow). At the turn of the eighth century we find Chinese Zen master Hui-neng teaching their implications. Today they are recited at the end of services in most Mahayana centers. More »
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    Contradictions In Action Paid Member

    An eleventh-century Burmese king honored his conversion to Theravada Buddhism by building Pagan, an imposing city containing 13,000 templesand pagodas on the fertile plains of the Irrawaddy River. Slaves constructed this spectacular homage to the teachings of the Buddha. In the late twentieth century, a Burmese dictator commands a military government that tortures, murders, and impoverishes its own people. The general, the soldiers, and the victims are all Buddhists. More »
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    Many is More Paid Member

    Following the failed coup in Russia a cartoon in a New York newspaper featured two people standing in front of the Kremlin. One was saying to the other, "If you miss the one-party system, go to America." As the cartoon implies, new political alliances threaten to recast the United States as, at best, a beleaguered advocate of ideological plurality. Let's hope that American Buddhism doesn't follow the national political trend, especially since diversity is as central to Buddhist history as it has been to the history of the United States. More »
  • Minding the Storehouse Paid Member

    Although most of us are intimately identified with the contents and functions of our minds, we never make the attempt to actually see what goes on there. If we did, we might see what the Buddha saw over two thousand years ago: that we are not of one mind, but many, and that these various minds are refracted by different states of mind (or states of consciousness). More »
  • Rolling the Wheel Paid Member

    This episode of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, as retold by Nikkyo Niwano, starts in Bodh-gaya following the Buddha's enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The decision to turn the dharma wheel initiates a teaching mission that lasted over forty years and took the Great Sage back and forth across the breadth of northern India. More »