I recently discovered the Tricycle blogs, and found a nice little entry by Eric Pema Kunsang on what makes a Buddhist. Essentially, it is the view below. I am not sure which one of (a) believing in it (as an idea), (b) examining it in own experience, or (c) actualize it as living realization is sufficient to be considered a Buddhist, not that it matters. Here are the four aspects of the view, with my (unschooled) commentary below.
- Everything conditioned is impermanent
All form is change, including any experiences and states.
- All tainted states are painful
Whenever there is a belief in an idea, we are at odds with what is, and there is suffering. (This includes the idea of a separate I.)
- All phenomena are empty and devoid of self-entity
This one can be understood in different ways.
One is that the field of form is a seamless whole, with any boundary superimposed and ultimately arbitrary. This also means that any local effect is really the result of the movements and activities of the whole, having infinite causes. So everything is empty of a real boundary, of a separate I, and also of a local cause of anything happening.
Another is the immediate realization, or noticing, of emptiness, of every form as awake emptiness. This one is difficult to explain as logically as the previous one, but actually easier to notice here and now – for instance through headless experiments and the Big Mind process.
- Nirvana is peace
I am actually not quite sure what nirvana refers to, but assume it is either the awakening as awake emptiness, as the formless, or the next-door neighbor of awakening as awake emptiness and form as no other than awake emptiness. The content of awakeness, the forms arising within and to awakeness, is no other than awakeness itself. In both cases, there is a release from identification with aspects of form, so also a release from suffering.
Another way to put it is that this awakening is the awakening to selflessness, of no separate self anywhere in the field of awakeness and form, so no I and Other, so rest and peace.
And then there is the reminder that nirvana is samsara and samara nirvana. In this awakening, there is the realization that there was never anything besides this. There was always this field of awake emptiness and form. It only appeared differently due to a belief in the idea of a separate I, usually placed on this human self.
They are both the same field, in one case awakened to itself as a field, and in the other case forgetful of its true nature, believing in ideas, taking itself to be only a segment of itself.
Of course, implied in this is that we are only awakening to what we already are, and this happens within, or even outside of, any tradition. It may be about being a good Buddhist, but is really about just seeing what already is.