Trikaya Buddhism


Trikaya Buddhism is a heart-based, western Vajrayana pathway to Awakening. We could also call this path Practical American Buddhism: Practical because we can apply it directly, American because it is a mosaic of traditions, and Buddhism because it allows us to recognize Enlightenment.

Practitioners train in meditation, mindfulness, contemplation, 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

  1. Enlightenment is here and now.
  2. Enlightenment is beyond conception, and although it can be known and embodied, it is not a belief or intellectual understanding.
  3. Everyone has the potential to Awaken to their true nature.

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 to share the practical methods for implementing the ancient wisdom of meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation that leads to Enlightenment.

Upon Awakening, there is recognition of the true nature of Reality. While our true nature cannot be expressed in words, its hallmarks are unconditioned joy and inner peace. 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.


Trikaya Buddhism prepares the mind with meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation to awaken the awareness of Enlightenment already present. 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 emptiness 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 which 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 practice contemplation. Contemplation allows us to recognize and release habitual patterns which keep us stuck in suffering. Through discipline, 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. With 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 practices of meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation is beneficial to their lives.

As monks we do not wear special 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.

History of Trikaya Buddhism

The teachings of Trikaya Buddhism have been proven to be fruitful during the course of well over 20,000 hours of meditation and more than 25 years of sharing the way at Dharma Center of Trikaya Buddhism in San Diego, CA. Based in the practices taught by Rama (Dr. Frederick Lenz) and a variety of other wise teachers, Turiya Dhara and her students created the label of Trikaya Buddhism to describe their unique pathway.

By giving this pathway the name of Trikaya Buddhism, a container is created to help students dive deeper into study and practice to uncover their own Awakening. Designating the school also facilitates dialogue and partnership between students and other groups who practice the many forms of long-standing 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.

Learn More about Trikaya Buddhism

Explore classes and practice Trikaya Buddhism at Dharma Center in San Diego

Read the Pith Instructions for Trikaya Buddhism and explore our FAQS.

Discover essays, poems, and books about Trikaya Buddhism at turiyadhara.com

Unreasonable Joy: Awakening through Trikaya Buddhism, a book about the Path by Turiya Dhara is available from Amazon and your favorite bookstore.

Listen to dharma talks about Trikaya Buddhism Dharma Center’s Member Oasis at DharmaCenter.com/Membership.

About Rama

During his lifetime, Rama taught many different pathways to Enlightenment to suit the needs of his various students. Through direct empowerments and lectures, he revealed Buddhist wisdom using modern language and examples. 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 lovingly collected and curated by his students are available at RamaMeditationSociety.org. They also offer events and a list of many other teachers who studied with Rama and have developed their own formats to share the Path.

To practice and/or help support the spread of Trikaya Buddhism, please visit and share Dharma Center’s website.