- Why Three (and not 4 or 12?)
- Intrinsic – The Nirvana Buddha
- Compassionate – Kannon Boddhisattva
- Strict – Mahavairochana Achala
Let’s explore further the realms of the three areas of Intrinsic, Compassionate and Strict styles of the Shinnyo Teaching (the 3-Wheel Turning Bodies of the Buddha, Kannon Bodhisattva and Mahavairochana Achala.) Throughout the volumes of dharma teaching are a seemingly never-ending list of numerically related lists and figures. Some examples:
- Four Means of Embracement
- Four Immeasurable Minds
- Four Noble Truths
- Four Dependables
- Four Grave Offenses
- Four Virtues
- Four Illusions
- Four (or Eight – depending on which edition you’re reading) Sufferings
- Five Cardinal Sins
- Six Periods of the Buddha’s Life
- Six Paramitas
- Seven Levels of Consciousness
- Eight Tastes
- Eight-fold Noble Path
- Ten Realms of Existence
Yea! – Memorize all those, and you probably still haven’t found enlightenment (but people may be very impressed with your mastery of lists.) Every teacher comes up with their own way to help remember what you’re supposed to learn. Master Shinjo Ito noticed that the Nirvana Sutra (aka the Mahaparinirvana Sutra) kept reinforcing the basis of buddhism being founded on what are known as the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Sangha (or community), and the Dharma (or teaching). Alone, each element exists, but only together do they form the basis for what we know as Buddhism.
Relating back to last month’s podcast about Practice, and the story of the three kinds of practitioners, he also thought about the common threads between each of the myriad sub-schools of Buddhism – each of which had a particular focal point of study (quite parallel to the various sub-sects of Christianity and Catholocism focusing on different saints, or missionaries, or how Shinto groups each have their own particular Kami (or god) as reference for their respective focus.) Within the founding of Shinnyo’s goals was the objective to unify and fuse the esoteric practices commonly found under the compassionate wisdom sects with the elements of the exoteric sects promoting determined practice, and disciplined self-regulation. Translating the three essential Buddhist elements into objective examples to study,we get:
- Buddha => Buddha => Insight/Self
- Sangha => Kannon (aka Guanyin) => Compassion/Ego
- Dharma => Achala (aka Acala, Fudo Myo) => Discipline/Super-Ego
Coming from a psychology background, I tend to translate the religious themes into scientific or concrete-reasoning examples for my own consumption, but nonetheless, I think you may start to see how things fit together in this model. Within every person lies the buddha nature inside, and each person also has free-will, and also moral or ethical boundaries. And it is the process of both self-examination of these values, and the outward expression (or practice) of these values that form the person we know.
The Intrinsic stream is our model or would-like-to-really-be-one-day self. If everything in the world were perfect, and this were Utopian existence, these are our target elements to existence in a super-happy care-free world. To really imagine or visualize this stream takes more than imagining a bunch of good luck comes to you; for example, you get a trillion dollars. Is having that being happy? Or is it the potential to spend it, the happy part? Or is it obtaining anything you want, the satisfaction you want? And once you have everything, are you happy yet? Power, money, control, success, respect, admiration, love – what is going to get you to that happy place, and keep you there? Our example given to us, is to imagine the opposite – never worrying about how much you have or don’t, surrounded by compassion, and being really satisfied with whatever happens to come your way.
As you noticed, compassion is part of our Utopian vision for our self. And it’s a dilemma, that to be cared for by others, you have to care about them, too. If it’s just a one-way situation, not only does it not sustain over the long-term, but starts to transform into other things – envy, greed, jealousy, and even hatred. You might even see all this one-way caring as false – people are doing it just to get something from you. That’s paranoia, and not part of our happy place at all.
Discipline is not control, nor is it about punishment. Knowing that you have a genuine sense of where you want to be, and that you care that others can help you in creating that reality, now you need to actually pursue it and not just let it fade into the night as a nice dream. To do that, is the work. But it’s not work if you enjoy what you’re doing. Just like any career formed around something you love to do, it transforms what was mundane, busy and irritating because it just must be done, into something gratifying and even pleasurable. Like building a house you get to live in, you take pride in doing a great job at something when you know what qualities went into creating it. You don’t do it because you have to, you do it because you want to. Kingdoms are not strong because of the King by themselves. They become transformed because every single member contributes towards making the whole a greater presence of stability, growth, and even respect. Each person’s discipline to go above and beyond becomes the Sangha, which ultimately satisfies the Self. And since somewhere inside you is a buddha wanting to emerge, the cycle perpetuates itself.
/* That’s it for this session. Thank you for listening. For more information feel free to e-mail me at jlui at jlui dot net, or twitter @jhlui1 With Gassho, James*/