Jessi K: Lama, there are many 3’s in Buddhism. Are these all interrelated? For example; three jewels, maitri-karuna, three curves of OM, and even your recent quote of transforming, healing and knowing.
Lama Surya Das: Buddha was not from the accountant caste, but he did teach long ago in an oral culture where mnemonic devices such as rhyme, meter and lists were both useful and prevalent in helping others learn and retain theories and practical instructions— not unlike our western notions like The Seven Seas or The Nine Planets. One could certainly say that, in general, the kind of Dharma triads you are thinking about are all interrelated, mutually supporting and reinforcing each other.
Buddha, Dharma & Sangha— the basic Buddhist Three jewels of Refuge— can be seen to correspond neatly to other significant triads including Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom (in reverse order), the Three Liberating Trainings; Ground, Path & Fruition; View, Meditation & Action/Conduct; the Three Kayas (Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, the so-called Three Bodies/Dimensions of Buddha), and so forth. The three curves of OM? Why not. The Christian Trinity too, to stretch the metaphor.
In teaching, especially if I have a whiteboard or flip chart handy, it’s fairly easy to draw meaningful correspondences between the various triads for helping Dharma students and practitioners delve deeper into their understanding of the path of Buddhist practice. I find it useful in explaining Buddhism, and spirituality in general, to examine closely the spirit of the Law as well as the letter, by exploring according to the Tibetan commentarial style of considering the outer (behavioral), inner (attitudinal), and the secret (or innermost, mystical) levels of things. Then we can consider intention and motivation as well as mere action in weighing karma and its results, as a practical example.
Think on this.
Submitted by Jessi K. via Facebook on September 7th, 2010
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