Trikaya Buddhism is a practical, western Vajrayana pathway to Awakening. Discipline and service are its main practices. Practitioners train in meditation, mindfulness, and energy management while engaging with the world through compassionate action. As practitioners progress along the pathway, esoteric concepts are introduced, leading to an understanding of the Trikaya, or three bodies of the Buddha: Dharmakaya – clear Light, Sambhogakaya – subtle body of bliss and limitless form, and Nirmanakaya – physical manifestation of Enlightenment.
Three Principles of Trikaya Buddhism
- Enlightenment is here and now.
- Enlightenment is beyond conception, and although it can be known, it is not a belief or intellectual understanding.
- Everyone has the potential to Awaken.
All sentient beings have Buddha-nature, however most people are unaware of this and are caught up in the illusion of separativity. This ignorance and resulting attachment creates suffering. There is a way beyond this suffering. Enlightenment, or Awakening, occurs naturally when the mind is sufficiently prepared through practice, study, and integration of the Noble 8-fold Path. In Trikaya Buddhism, the Path is presented in modern language that shares practical methods for implementing the ancient wisdom that leads to Enlightenment.
Upon Awakening, there is recognition of the true nature of Reality. The unfolding of Enlightenment is infinite, beginningless and endless. When awareness is aware of awareness, Samsara is Nirvana. We discover through practice the path is the goal.
On the Path, practitioners cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, generosity, and equanimity. With loving-kindness, we experience altruistic joy – the sharing of joy for the sake of joy. Compassion allows us to recognize the Buddha-nature in those who do not see it in themselves, igniting a desire for everyone we meet to be happy. Through generosity we celebrate the impermanence and abundance of life without clinging. Equanimity reveals the wisdom of selflessness: that form is empty and emptiness is form; that everything is interdependent.
Practitioners are trained through verbal and non-verbal (transmission) instruction. In the silent mind of meditation, in the boundless space between thoughts, awareness of the clear Light of the Dharmakaya is recognized. When we stop thought, the structures of conditioning that hold ideas about ourselves and the world melt. As the mind becomes fluid, we strengthen it through mind training. With mind training, or mindfulness practice, we tame the mind as it experiences the endless cascade of thoughts, emotions, and impressions present during daily activity. As mindfulness develops, we are able to be fully present for each moment as it arises, without attraction or aversion, and awareness of the innate bliss of life becomes evident. Through ever-deepening practice, the layers of conditioning peel away, and awareness of Buddha nature arises.
As part of our compassionate activity, we share our practices with anyone who wishes to learn. We invite the general public to explore and use the teachings at whatever level they wish to pursue. Even those who are not spiritually inclined have found basic training in the twin practices of meditation and mindfulness is beneficial to their lives.
As monks we do not wear robes or live in a separate community. We have taken on the challenge of living in the world, surrounded by others who may not care about the spiritual life or do not share our dedication to practice. In the world, we are forced to test our discipline daily in unexpected ways, which allows us to strengthen our practice quickly. We are monks in plain clothes and the world is our monastery.
Trikaya Buddhism was developed over 20 years of teaching by Turīya – Jenna Sundell. She implemented the practices taught by her primary teacher Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz and a variety of wise teachers and found fruition on the Path. By giving this pathway the label of Trikaya Buddhism, a container is created to help students dive deeper into study and practice to uncover their own Awakening. Naming the school will also facilitate dialogue and partnership between students and other groups who practice the many forms of traditional and emerging Buddhism. Trikaya Buddhism will continue to evolve as each new generation of teachers implement practical, form follows function methods of expanding awareness and discovering Enlightenment within each one of us.
With the deepest gratitude, we thank all those who have influenced the development of Trikaya Buddhism, including but not limited to Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz, the Divine Mother (especially in the form of Vajrayogini), Shakyamuni Buddha, Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Milarepa, Naropa, Tilopa, Shankara, Bodhidharma, the Taoist masters Lao Tzu and Chang Tzu, as well as more modern teachers such as Jamgon Kongtrul, Shunryū Suzuki, Pema Chödrön, Carlos Castaneda, Gangaji, Adyashanti, Ramakrishna, and Yogananda.
Explore classes at Dharma Center in San Diego
Read about Trikaya Buddhism at JennaSundell.com
Coming Soon: A library of audio dharma talks by Turīya
During his lifetime, Rama taught many different pathways to Enlightenment to suit the needs of his students. He chose not to create a formal school of his teachings. Instead he established the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism to support the spread of all forms of American Buddhism.
The Foundation has helped to make Rama’s teachings available and sponsors both grants and conferences designed to support American Buddhism. A list of past grantees and conferences can be found at FrederickLenzFoundation.org. A wonderful resource library of Rama’s recordings and books are available at RamaMeditationSociety.org, along with events and a list of other teachers who studied with Rama.