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Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 09 60 mind has time to form its reasons. It’s one continuous system. Body–mind split? What body–mind split? BuddhadharMa: There can be a lot of pain, discomfort, and loss of ability associated with the body that can make practice difficult, and many people have been known to just give up practice. What kinds of instructions can be helpful for people who are experiencing diminished function? tenzin WangyaL rinPoChe: I often hear of people who have had an injury, perhaps even a brain injury, and their ability to meditate is not what it was before. But just because your body has become weaker doesn’t mean the mind is unable to practice. In some sense, the mind has the ability to do its own practice regardless of the conditions of the body. That must be understood. In the end, mind is totally free. It does not depend on the body. We may think, even deep in our consciousness, that if our body is not working well, we are no longer able to practice. We think the body is getting old, so the mind is mind as the thinking process, but in the Buddhist tradition the mind isn’t the thinking mind. The mind is awareness itself. If we identify the mind as awareness, there is no split and there never was. PhiLLiP Moffitt: When we start to think of the body in terms of function, which we are prone to do, we separate mind and body. The thinking mind wants the body to function in a certain way. The thinking mind has the abilities of memory and association and planning that it can apply to managing the body. But if you’re just present, awareness is manifest in space–time in this moment, and the function of the body becomes secondary. The separation between mind and body arises in the field of awareness, and it is simply form and emptiness. The separation begins and ends there. We also know from the latest brain science that many of our actions and much of our decision-making have happened before the signal ever gets to the brain, before the rational the three kayas traleg kyabgon rinpoche explains the three kayas, or bodies of the Buddha, which are inherent in all sentient beings. The fruition of Buddhist practice is the realization of the three kayas—dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. These are the three bod- ies of Buddha’s being, or enlightenment. Dharmakaya corresponds with one’s mind, sambhogakaya with one’s speech, and nirmanakaya with one’s body. Dharmakaya is the formless body. It is an undifferentiated state of being which we cannot talk about in terms of either confusion or enlightenment. The dharmakaya is something that is always present; it is rediscovered rather than created anew. Because it is atemporal and ahistorical, we cannot attribute change or transformation to it. Because it is passive and indeterminate in nature, dharmakaya cannot manifest as a medium for one to work for the benefit of others, but it does give rise to the deterministic aspects of sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. Like the dharmakaya, the sambhogakaya is always present. It has to do with mental powers, with the ability of one’s mind to manifest in relation to the five wisdoms. In tantric practice, all deities are manifestations of sambhogakaya because they embody the five different types of wisdom. The sambhogakaya is connected with communication, both on the verbal and nonverbal levels, and it is also associ- ated with the idea of relating, so that speech here means not just the capacity to use words but the ability to communicate on all levels. Both the sambhogakaya and dharmakaya aspects are already embodied within each sentient being, and fruition is a matter of coming to that realization. Nirmanakaya is the physical aspect of an enlightened being, the medium through which communication and relating can be carried out. It can be said to be new, or different, because it is only on the physical level that one can become transformed.The purified body, called ku in Tibetan, is the manifestation of the fully transformed body free from the influence of deeply set and inculcated karmic residues. Our ordinary physical body is called lu. It is the product of karmic traces and dispositions, and it is lacking in spontaneity and creativ- ity. Through the purification of one’s body, speech, and mind, the physical body ceases to be a locus for undesirable negative tendencies, excessive desires, and obsessions. Instead, it becomes the nirmanakaya—a medium that has extraordinary power to work with and to benefit others. From “The Three Kayas: The Bodies of the Buddha,” in Densal, a publication of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra.