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The Trinity Of Buddhism

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on December 18, 2003 15:26:21 UTC

As an expression of religious things in common, please consider the following excerpt of a discussion of the three forms of Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism:

"Finally, the Mahayanists completed the conversion of Buddhism from a philosophy to religion. Therevada Buddhism holds that Buddha was a historical person who, on his death, ceased to exist. There were, however, strong tendencies for Buddhists to worship Buddha as a god of some sort; these tendencies probably began as early as Buddha's lifetime. The Mahayanists developed a theology of Buddha called the doctrine of "The Three Bodies," or Trikaya. The Buddha was not a human being, as he was in Theravada Buddhism, but the manifestation of a universal, spiritual being. This being had three bodies. When it occupied the earth in the form of Siddhartha Gautama, it took on the Body of Magical Transformation (nirmanakaya ). This Body of Magical Transformation was an emanation of the Body of Bliss (sambhogakaya ), which occupies the heavens in the form of a ruling and governing god of the universe. There are many forms of the Body of Bliss, but the one that rules over our world is Amithaba who lives in a paradise in the western heavens called Sukhavati, or "Land of Pure Bliss." Finally, the Body of Bliss is an emanation of the Body of Essence (dharmakaya ), which is the principle underlying the whole of the universe. This Body of Essence, the principle and rule of the universe, became synonymous with Nirvana . It was a kind of universal soul, and Nirvana became the transcendent joining with this universal soul. "

I think we can make the following correlation with the Trinity of Christianity:
Jesus is nirmanakaya
The Father is Amithaba
and the Holy Spirit is dharmakaya

The correspondense is not exact. But this three fold notion of the unknown constantly repeats itself. In Judaism we worship with a three fold notion of the human: heart, soul and will. In Hinduism god has three aspects: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the sustainer and Siva the destroyer. Even Tao said that all things appear when the third element is added to Yin and Yang. In Indian medicine the human condition is a balancing act of three tendencies. Only the ancient Greeks broke the mold with four-fold tendencies. Physics was dimensionally three fold until Einstein made it four fold. However, the new born baby can recognize three objects, but not four. Black holes cannot form in two dimensions, and rapidly collapse in 4 or more dimensions. They are only stable in three dimensions. It seems that the three fold way is the winner.

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