Principals: Buddha-dhatu and Other Principles and Practices
The Buddha's Mahayana doctrines contain a set of "ultimate" (nitartha)
teachings on the immanence of a hidden core Reality within all sentient
beings which is linked to the eternality of the Buddha and Nirvana.
This immanent yet transcendent essence is variously called, in the
key tathagatagarbha sutras which expound it, the Buddha-dhatu ("Buddha-element",
Buddha-nature) or the Tathagatagarbha. This Buddha-dhatu is empty
of all that is contingent, painful and impermanent. In the Nirvana
Sutra, it is called by the Buddha the "True Self" (to distinguish
it from the "false" worldly self of the five skandhas).
It is no less than the unfabricated, uncreated, uncompounded, immaculate,
immortal, all-knowing, radiantly shining Principle of blissful Buddhahood
- the very Dharmakaya. This Tathagatagarbha/ Buddha-dhatu, inherent
in all beings, can never be destroyed or harmed, and yet is concealed
from view by a mass of obscuring mental and moral taints within the
mind-stream of the individual being. Once the Buddha-dhatu is finally
seen and known by the faithful Buddhist practitioner, it has the
power to transform that seer and knower into a Buddha. The doctrine
of the Tathagatagarbha/Buddha-dhatu is stated by the Buddha of the
Mahaparinirvana Sutra to be the "absolutely final culmination" of
Other Principles and Practices
Meditation or dhyana of some form is a common practice in most
if not all schools of Buddhism, for the clergy if not the laity.
Central to Buddhist doctrine and practice is the law of karma
and vipaka; action and its fruition, which happens within the dynamic
of dependent origination (pratitya-samutpada). Actions which result
in positive retribution (happiness) are defined as skillful or
good, while actions that produce negative results (suffering) are
called unskillful or bad actions. These actions are expressed by
the way of mind, body or speech. Some actions bring instant retribution
while the results of other actions may not appear until a future
lifetime. Most teachers are, however, quick to point out that though
it may be a result of someone's past-life karma that they suffer,
this should not be used as an excuse to treat them poorly; indeed,
all should help them and help to alleviate their suffering, leading
to them working to alleviate their own suffering.
Rebirth, which is closely related to the law of karma. An action
in this life may not give fruit or reaction until the next life
time. This being said, action in a past life takes effect in this
one, making a chain of existence. The full realization of the absence
of an eternal self or soul (the doctrine of anatta (Pali; Sanskrit:
anatman)) breaks this cycle of birth and death (samsara).
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