Trinity

 

Traditions are always reinterpreted and reinvented. It is useful since it helps keep traditions current and updated. And it is also good to notice that when we reinterpret, we do it in ways that tend to reflect and confirm our existing views on the world. For instance, we may update Christianity to reflect science, evolution, ecological concerns, and acknowledgment of the validity of other traditions, and this is very appropriate and useful. At the same time, we are the ones doing it, and we do it in ways that reflect and confirm our own values, concerns, and world views. We miss out of the friction between our habitual and familiar views, and a tradition representing something different.

So here is a way to look at the Trinity that would fit our era, and especially those with an interest in Buddhism:

God = Big Mind/Heart/Belly, or dharmakaya.

The Holy Spirit = soul level, subtle energies, or sambhogakaya.

The Son = the physical, our human life in the world, or nirmanakaya.

So in that sense, the trinity is always here in immediate experience. Big Mind is here, awake capacity appearing as this field of experience. The Holy Spirit is here, as alive presence. The Son is here, as this human self in the world, and this physical world.

Another way to look at it is God = Big Mind, Holy Spirit = Big heart, soul level, and the Son = Big Belly (reorganizing emotions, trust), our human self, and the physical world.

We can also differentiate Jesus as the human being in the world, and Christ as a facet or flavor of Big Mind.

This is of course a quite simplistic way of looking at it, and I hesitate even mentioning it since it probably goes against many insights and teachings of both Christianity and Buddhism. I am also not sure how useful it is, since these things can be talked about in a much simpler, pragmatic, and more immediate way.

But for some – those with a familiarity and affection for Christian theology, and also an interest in f.ex. Buddhism – it may very well be useful, at least as  a stepping stone.

In any case, it is good to not take this literally or too seriously. It is, at most, a pointer or stepping stone that can be useful for some folks for a little while. And that is the same with all ideas, stories, images, maps, teachings, rituals and so on.

Note: The soul level is the alive presence, and perhaps also the quiet voice/intuition. Big Belly is what happens when our emotions are reorganized from fear-infused to trust-infused, realigned with Big Mind/Heart noticing itself and our human self living from that noticing. The trikaya is a Buddhist teaching and pointer. Here is a Rinzai quote:

Do you wish to be not different from the Buddhas and patriarchs? Then just do not look for anything outside. The pure light of your own heart [i.e., ?, mind] at this instant is the Dharmakaya Buddha in your own house. The non-differentiating light of your heart at this instant is the Sambhogakaya Buddha in your own house. The non-discriminating light of your own heart at this instant is the Nirmanakaya Buddha in your own house. This trinity of the Buddha’s body is none other than he here before your eyes, listening to my expounding the Dharma.

Note 2: A more general, simpler, and more accessible way of looking at the trinity is as an image of one & many. Existence can be seen as one and many, one seamless existence appearing as many forms, wholes within wholes. A seamless Earth expressed in many forms from ecological to social systems, and a seamless part of larger wholes. One being with many expressions of body, mind, and relationships with the larger whole. One awareness appearing to itself in many appearances. This image is found in many or most other religions as well, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism.

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  • trinity
    • the game of reinterpreting Christian symbolism/teachings
      • useful to some extent – helps us update, make relevant today etc.
      • but also just a game, reinterpreted in whatever ways suit us – confirm how we already look at the world
    • trinity
      • God – Big Mind/Heart/Belly – dharmakaya
      • Holy Spirit – soul level – sambhogakaya
      • Jesus – physical, material, human life in the world – nirmanakaya
    • …..

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There is a game that always has been popular, and especially so in our post-modern culture, and that is to reinterpret and reinvent traditions. In Christianity, it is done by reinterpreting and reinventing Christian symbols, teachings, and rituals. It is of course a valid and useful approach. It helps us update Christianity and make it more (apparently) relevant for people today, for instance through reflecting science, ecological concerns, and an acknowledgment of the validity of other religious traditions. But it is also just a game. We reinterpret in whatever ways suits us, and in ways that confirm how we already look at the world.

That said, here is one way to look at the Trinitiy.

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I don’t know much about theology, whether traditional or current,

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So here is a way to interpret the Trinity that makes it into my own image:

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So here is a way to look at the Trinity that would fit our era, and especially those with an interest in Buddhism. It is quite simplistic, probably overlooks many aspects of the Christian and Buddhist teachings (I wouldn’t know, unfortunately), and most likely far from new, but I’ll mention it anyway.

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Existence can be seen as one and many, one seamless existence appearing as many forms. And within this, as filtered through our stories, wholes within wholes.

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