The Buddhaland: a heaven with a difference
Feb02

The Buddhaland: a heaven with a difference

Manchester Buddhist Centre newsletter Feb-Mar 2013 THE BUDDHALAND – A HEAVEN WITH A DIFFERENCE … By Mahabodhi                 The Lord Buddha, thus surrounded and venerated by these multitudes of many hundreds of thousands of living beings, sat upon a majestic lion-throne and began to teach the Dharma. … the Lord Buddha shone, radiated, and glittered as he sat upon his magnificent lion- throne. Thereupon, the Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnakara, with five hundred Licchavi youths, each holding a precious parasol made of seven different kinds of jewels, came forth from the city of Vaisali and presented himself at the grove of Amrapali. Each approached the Buddha, bowed at his feet, circumambulated him clockwise seven times, laid down his precious parasol in offering, and withdrew to one side. As soon as all these precious parasols had been laid down, suddenly, by the miraculous power of the Lord, they were transformed into a single precious canopy so great that it formed a covering for this entire billion-world galaxy. The surface of the entire billion-world galaxy was reflected in the interior of the great precious canopy, where the total content of this galaxy could be seen: limitless mansions of suns, moons, and stellar bodies; the realms of the devas, nagas, yakshas (mythical beasts) … all the great oceans, rivers, bays, torrents, streams, brooks, and springs; finally, all the villages, suburbs, cities, capitals, provinces, and wildernesses. All this could be clearly seen by everyone. And the voices of all the Buddhas of the ten directions could be heard proclaiming their teachings of the Dharma in all the worlds, the sounds reverberating in the space beneath the great precious canopy. At this vision of the magnificent miracle affected by the supernatural power of the Lord Buddha, the entire host was ecstatic, enraptured, astonished, delighted, satisfied, and filled with awe and pleasure. They all bowed down to the Tathágata, withdrew to one side with palms pressed together, and gazed upon him with fixed attention. The young Licchavi Ratnakara knelt with his right knee on the ground raised his hands; palms pressed together in salute of the Buddha, and praised him with the following hymn: (The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture, Trans. Robert A F Thurman, 2006)     Building the Buddha Land is the title of a lecture in a series by Sangharakshita on the Mahayana Buddhist scripture called the Vimalakirti Nirdesa. A Buddhaland is the sphere of influence of a Buddha, and in the Mahayana conception of things there are many world systems and, correspondingly, many Buddhas overseeing them. Dayamala in her talk introduced this vivid text...

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The Three Great Phases of the FWBO
Oct15

The Three Great Phases of the FWBO

The Three Great Phases of the FWBO / Triratna Buddhist Community Or, ‘Around the Wheel’ with Reginald Ray. In this article I explore how Reginald Ray’s Threefold Model applies to the FWBO / Triratna Buddhist Community.  One way of showing how it does apply is to demonstrate how the movement has gone through three great phases in its history: a phase of establishing principles; a phase of Sangha building; and a phase of lay expansion, which correspond respectively to Ray’s three categories of Buddhist practitioner: namely the ‘forest renunciant,’ the ‘settled monastic,’ and the ‘lay practitioner.’  And the fact that collectively Triratna has ‘circled’ through these three phases is I propose due to that fact that prior to stream entry individuals tend to cluster into groups, and generally speaking we are not stream entrants. First, I outline my impression of the history of the Threefold model in the Triratna Buddhist Community.  I then explore stream entry in terms of the ‘Five Paths’ in particular how it results from a person addressing their weaknesses as well as their strengths.  After that I explore the three great phases in the movement, which I have named ‘Establishing Principles,’ ‘Sangha Building’ and ‘Lay Expansion.’  I then offer some predictions and conclude. The Threefold Model According to Vajragupta in ‘The Triratna Story,’ Sangharakshita recommended Reginald Ray’s Buddhist Saints in India back in 1994. I first came across Ray’s ideas as presented by Subhuti in a talk called ‘How to become an Order Member’ as presented on the ‘What is the Order?‘ retreat in 1995.  Subhuti outlined Ray’s categories as a way of talking about the breadth of Order lifestyles and he explained the category of the forest renunciant as corresponding not just to the lone meditator in their cave but also to the dedicated artist or scholar who worked intensively in isolation, but who fed ideas, inspiration and insight back into the wider community. Being temperamentally this kind of practitioner, I was attracted to Ray’s model mainly because it gave me a meaningful place in the Sangha. According to Subhuti the settled monastic corresponded to people in Triratna who ran Buddhist Centres, lived in communities and worked in Team-based Right Livelihood businesses. And the lay practitioner worked out in the world. In the years since Subhuti’s talk I have been aware of little mention of Ray’s model in the Order, except for a faint ‘it doesn’t apply to us,’ with no explanation why.  But I have always believed that it does apply and I argued in favour of it a few years ago in the ‘Threads’ section of the Order journal Shabda.  This year Vajragupta gave a...

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