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oxane:

Akira Beard
jakereinig:

A thanks, and a hope for luck and prosperity. Khmer New Year. 

Interesting that they are giving American dollars!
And now, for some fun pics I found!

Anonymous asked - "I went to a Vietnamese temple last weekend and they had statues of three buddhas sitting next to each other? Are they all the same Buddha? Thanks."

Hello!

Excellent that you’re visiting a Buddhist temple!  It’s good for getting a perspective of Buddhism as it is actually practiced.

Great question.  The answer is yes, they are different Buddhas.  Buddhism in Vietnam is heavily heavily influenced by Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, which most often incorporates both Pure Land and Ch’an elements to it.  The statues most likely looked something like this, right?

image

In East Asian Mahayana Buddhism, this is a very standard shrine.  This is a popular Buddhist “trinity”.  Usually, the Buddha in the center with the dhyana mudra is Sakyamuni Buddha, the most recent Buddha in our world system.  The one holding the pagoda to the right is usually the Medicine Buddha, who vowed to use his merit to alleviate not only mental but also physical ailments.  He’s very a very popular buddha prayed to for health.  And the buddha to the left is usually Amitabha Buddha, a celestial buddha who established the Western Pure Land.  If you recite his name with sincerity in your mind, then you can be reborn into his Pure Land where one can practice the dharma most easily and attain liberation.

However, the three Buddha statues also represent a very beautiful and important concept in the Mahayana schools—The Trikaya, or three bodies of the Buddha.

In the Mahayana tradition, the Sakyamuni Buddha (along with all other Buddhas) is believed to have had at least 3 bodies:

1) nirmanakaya, or physical body, with which they come to earth to teach the Dharma,
2)  sambhogakaya, or manifestation body, with which the buddhas continue to reveal teachings to us (sentient beings) in dreams or visions, and with which they divinely intervene to help us out on the path

3) dharmakaya, or their transcendent body, which is the manifestation of ultimate reality, and can thus not be talked about or described.  This last body cannot be described or comprehended.

This is a reminder that the message of Sakyamuni Buddha is well and alive, that his compassion for us continually manifests, and that the ultimate reality is ineffable.

Hope this helped!

Gassho,
Dan

Further Information:

Trikaya Doctrine (explained with a Theravada bias, but still good explanation)

Amitabha and Pure Land Teachings

Medicine Buddha (page 236 of this, which refers to him by his Sanskrit name, Bhaisajyaguru)

rhubarbes:

300 years old Tibetan Carved Skull.
(via Photos du journal - Scientific Illustration for the Research Scientist | somersault18:24)

This is awesome, but it makes me feel a little icky.  Maybe that’s what it is supposed to do!

Good Afternoon!

Did you guys see that the Dalai Lama led the US Senate in prayer on Thursday?  That’s interesting!  Click link to see video.  Kind of cool, in terms of representation of different religious groups.  But the ever-present skeptic part of me always wonders: why did His Holiness speak now?  What was the motivation behind congress to do so?

Still, very interesting and cool!

Gassho,
Dan

Buddhism and Ecology: The Perception of Buddhism in the United States and Its Influence on Ecological Causes

Here is the paper I presented for the AAR!  You are more than welcome to read it!

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