The Apramanas and the Five Buddha Families

A student writes:

At a recent teaching on Love & Compassion, you introduced the topic of the Five Buddha Families, and the Enlightened qualities. Can you say more about how understanding this and the relation to our personal distortions would help us approach our practice of the Apramanas?

Lama Shenpen replies:

Yes – I talk about this a bit in the Apramanas booklet and I think there is a lot of ways we could develop this teaching further.  At some point I would like to do a retreat on the Five Buddha families and bring this teaching more into the forefront of how we teach generally.  

For example we could each do a brain storm on what qualities we associate with love and compassion and see which of the families we most closely associate them with.  Warmth, warm feelings, appreciation gratitude, fondness, friendliness, tenderness, longing and so on would be the Padma family,  Protection and serving, caring, nursing, activism and so on are love and compassion Karma style.  Giving and providing, nourishing and comforting are Ratna qualities.  Liberating, freeing, giving space to, accepting, embracing, holding and allowing are all Buddha family qualities.  Leadership, guidance, discipline, correcting, standing for principle, vision and direction are all Vajra qualities.

Love and compassion express themselves differently in different situations and we all need all of them both in ourselves and in others and as a society. Furthermore they all contain within themselves the other four energies/qualities in different measure. Any of one of them becomes distorted if not combined sufficiently with all the others.

This is just a bit of a taster of where we could eventually go with all of this.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

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