Frequently Asked Questions about Trikaya Buddhism

What is Trikaya Buddhism?

Trikaya Buddhism is a modern approach to the Buddhist Path in which ancient teachings are integrated into daily life through practical, real world applications. Sadhana (spiritual practice) is not a separate ritual; rather spiritual practice becomes the basis of every aspect of one’s life. Teachers of Trikaya Buddhism serve as guides and as catalysts, with an understanding that each student is responsible for their own Awakening.

Is Trikaya Buddhism a religion?

For centuries a debate over Buddhism being religion or a philosophy has existed. In the traditional sense of the word, a religion requires belief from its followers. While some sects of Buddhism ask followers to believe certain tenants, Trikaya Buddhism does not. Trikaya Buddhism is a school which specializes in the study of the mind and the nature of Reality. No belief is required to explore this practice. The teachings serve as guideposts which allow the student to experiment. As students progress on the Path, their notion of Truth naturally expands. There are no shortcuts. Practitioners must do the work of testing and using the teachings to earn wisdom through their own experience. Some practitioners embrace Trikaya Buddhism as a religion while others regard it as a philosophy. Ultimately this is an entirely personal decision with no fixed answer.

What teachers have influenced Trikaya Buddhism?

Within Trikaya Buddhism, there is a deep respect for all who walk the spiritual path. There is an understanding that everyone is on the Path, even if they are not aware of it. In this way, we see all people as potential teachers. Rama -Dr. Frederick Lenz embodied Enlightenment and presented the Buddhist teachings through modern language and examples. He is the main influence behind the teachings of Trikaya Buddhism, which was created after his death by his student Turiya Dhara and her students. Enlightened Teachers of all traditions are honored, and practitioners observe how these Teachers share the Dharma in their unique ways. Teachers of other traditions are studied to enhance the understanding of the Enlightenment process and to inspire practice.

Trikaya Buddhism evolved out of putting into practice the teachings of those who came before us. Click here to discover a list of materials recommended for anyone who wishes to study Trikaya Buddhism. While books and recordings alone will not carry anyone into Enlightenment, they provide a framework and vocabulary that teachers and students can use to communicate the finer aspects of the Path.

Who can practice Trikaya Buddhism?

The practice of Trikaya Buddhism is open to all. Some come to the Path to make improvements in their life. They touch the teachings lightly and may be involved with traditional religions. From the perspective of Trikaya Buddhism, there is no conflict with this position.

Others desire a deeper connection with the practice. For those who want to embrace the Path fully, there is the option of becoming a monk. Taking ordination as a monk of Trikaya Buddhism is a sacred commitment. Monks become part of the network of Enlightenment until they dissolve in nirvana. While some monks may leave their practice, a part of their consciousness will remain on the Buddhist path. From the perspective of Trikaya Buddhism, there is no such thing as a former monk. For this reason, a student will typically train for a year or more before being ordained.

Are there monks and nuns?

Monks can be male or female. The designation of gender is the beginning of conditioning in the dualistic world; ultimately, there is no difference between the male and female practitioner. Manhood or womanhood does not exist apart from this conditioning. By ordaining both women and men as monks, it is affirmed that both are equal on the Path.

Are monks celibate?

Monks can be married or single, and celibate or not. Becoming a monk is a serious commitment to Enlightenment and one’s spiritual path. On the Path practitioners use everything in one’s life as a teacher.

Whether a monk in the Trikaya Buddhist tradition is married or not, or celibate or not, is determined by what will provide the practitioner the most stable foundation for their practice.

Some monks find it easier to renounce the external world and relationships. If they are in relationships, they can get lost in them. External renunciation aids in the internal release of attachments. In essence, for them external relationships distract from practice.

Others find it easier to renounce the attachment to relationships and the world inwardly. For them, external relationships highlight their attachments through day to day life, and they are given the opportunity to release them. Intimate relationships are an especially potent teacher. Through constant pressure, monks can move into detachment much faster than if they were to isolate themselves. Alone it’s easy to pretend there are no attachments when in fact, there are.

Of course, both options require a great deal of self-honesty and commitment to the spiritual path. In Trikaya Buddhism, both monks and non-ordained practitioners are encouraged to evaluate how relationships impact their practice.

Do I need special clothing?

Monks and non-ordained students of Trikaya Buddhism live and work in the world. They do not shave their heads or wear robes as a sign of being a monk. Monks wear whatever clothing is appropriate for their work and activities. Being a monk is a private relationship with Enlightenment and with other practitioners who support one’s determination to awaken. Outward signs that can degrade into symbols of pride or spiritual elitism are avoided.

What is the role of devotion on the Path?

Devotion is held for Enlightenment and one’s practice; it’s understood that tradition and rituals provide a supportive structure, but may change over time.

Many Buddhist schools place emphasis on Lineage. They tell new students they should commit to a tradition because they learned it from their teacher, who learned it from their teacher, and so on through many generations back to Buddha Shakyamuni.

In Trikaya Buddhism, students are encouraged to prove the teachings for themselves through their personal life experiences. From day one, students are told that hearing the teachings is not enough; the practices must be utilized in daily life to see if they hold up. Students are expected to question teachers about all aspects of practice. When done with respect, this results in a continuous refinement of both the students and the teachers.

Are there any rituals?

Rituals are personal and may change over time. It is understood that rituals exist in order to help one connect with Light and maintain a focus on the Path. One practitioner may chant before meditation while another may light incense. Some may take time to clear the energy from their space everyday. Others may simply begin their formal meditation period without any prior activity. The closest thing to a ritual that most Trikaya Buddhist practitioners share is we meditate and at the end of meditation we bow in gratitude.

What Holidays are celebrated?

In Trikaya Buddhism we celebrate 6 days of Power.

The two Equinoxes and two Solstices are times to tap into the natural energy shifts of the planet. During these times we make sure our actions are aligned with our higher goal of Awakening and assisting others in Awakening.

The other two are Rama’s birthday, Feb 9, and the day he died, April 12. On Rama’s birthday we celebrate the physical manifestation of Enlightenment in this world. In commemoration of the day he left his physical form, we celebrate the formlessness of Light, with the knowledge there is no separation between us and Enlightenment.

Why are beginners exposed to advanced teachings?

Trikaya Buddhism follows an organic spiral-shaped pathway in which a practitioner cycles through the beginning, intermediate, and advanced teachings over the course of many iterations. On this pathway, it is known that the “secret” advanced teachings are not meant to be kept hidden; rather, they are called secret because they do not make sense until one has attained a certain level of awareness. New students are exposed to these advanced teachings with the encouragement to continue their practice through any confusion they face and strive for their own realization. 

For practitioners of Trikaya Buddhism, Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path is a circle represented by the Dharma Wheel that begins and ends with meditation. People can spend lifetimes exploring just one of the spokes and all the variations found within that one aspect. Those who follow the path of Trikaya Buddhism begin with meditation and move around the whole circle, deepening their realization with every cycle.

How is Trikaya Buddhism organized?

The new school of Trikaya Buddhism is not a traditional hierarchy. Rather it is organized by consensus and cooperation of its members, currently under the spiritual leadership of Turiya Dhara. Teachers share their practice and experiences on the path with students. While teachers make recommendations and offer guidance, it is up to the student to explore the practices offered and discover what methods will work given their circumstances. This allows practitioners to develop self-trust while testing the teachings in a supportive environment.

If you want to be told what to do, Trikaya Buddhism is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are adventurous, willing to investigate your mind’s workings, and even a little rebellious, then Trikaya Buddhism can lead you into Enlightenment in this lifetime.

People who value honesty, self-reliance, and community will excel with Trikaya Buddhism. While one can practice at any level, this pathway works best for those who have decided that they have suffered enough and are ready to devote themselves to the path. Practitioners quickly discover that what they put into their practice is what they get out of it.

Through the teachings of Trikaya Buddhism, you will learn how to meditate, practice mindfulness, and manage your energy. Whether you decide to follow the Path to the advanced levels into unreasonable joy, inner peace, and Awakening, or if you simply wish to gain some control of your mind and build a stable foundation, the practice promises to bring power and freedom into your life.

For those called to a more profound connection, formal monk ordination and teaching empowerments are given through Dharma Center of Trikaya Buddhism in San Diego, CA. If you are ready to do the work on the pathway of Trikaya Buddhism, the rewards of confidence, patience, balance, and clarity are waiting. All are welcome!