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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
50 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 A TEACHER of TEACHERS Though he lived as a simple householder yogi, Thinley Norbu’s impact was far-reaching, says his long- time student SAMUEL BERCHOLZ. On a sunny day in the Paro Valley of Bhutan, the air was crisp and clean, flags of the five colors were snapping in the wind, and hundreds of yogis and yoginis were chanting and playing their chod drums, bells, and thigh-bone trum- pets—the Dudjom Tersar Throma practice—as an offer- ing to the kudung (the deceased physical form) of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. His cremation was a fortnight away. Who was this man who brought together kings and queens, ministers and officials, thousands upon thousands of Bhutanese, Tibetan, Nepali, Chinese, European, and American disciples to honor his life and to receive the blessings of his passing into dharmakaya? In the world of Tibetan Buddhism he was renowned as the living essence of Omniscient Longchenpa, the great Nyingma scholar– yogi of the fourteenth century who had been especially important in the transmission and development of the Dzogchen teachings. He was the first son of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, former head of the Nyingma lineage, and was believed to be an emanation of Tulku Drime Oser, a son of the great terton Dudjom Lingpa. is no stage. When Buddhas emanate, they have to emanate according to beings’ phenomena, showing histories to other beings, such as that of Buddha Shakyamuni learning, studying, and enduring hardship for six years so others can fol- low the example of these histories and open bud- dhanature through practice, as Buddha taught according to Mahayana, until finally reaching the fully enlightened state in which there is no fixation of time, place, or direction, where all Buddhas abide. From A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar The Three Kayas According to the Mahayana view, nothing tan- gible or intangible can affect great emptiness, which is always unobscured and pure. This is called the essential permanence of Dharmakaya. Dharmakaya is completely pure formless form. The nature of Dharmakaya is unobstructed like stainless sky, so any wisdom qualities and aspects can manifest from its unobscured spon- taneity. Since Dharmakaya is pure, whatever appearances radiate from it are self-adornments and always pure. This pure appearance is called the continuous permanence of Sambhogakaya. Sambhogakaya is immeasureable qualities of flawless, inconceivable, desireless exaltation form. Infinite manifestations, whether they seem to be objective or subjective, can spontaneously and unendingly manifest from the pure appearance of Sambhogakaya to benefit beings. These reflec- tions can manifest as many impure aspects to connect with the impure phenomena of sentient beings to guide them to pure phenomena, and as many pure aspects to connect with the pure tan- gible phenomena of sentient beings to guide them to pure intangible phenomena. Although the occurrence of these appearances is definite, their aspects are an indefinite emanation of effortless compassion to the indefinite faculties of countless sentient beings, arising in any form, at any time, and in any direction. This is called the indefinite permanence of Nirmanakaya. Nirmanakaya is unobstructed, miraculous emanation form. The quality of Dharmakaya is stainless, great emptiness. Since it does not have the permanence of an object, it never remains in the something- ness extreme of eternalism. Yet because of its PHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWNPHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWN