The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are known as the three jewels in Buddhism. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha can, as you will see, offer much support, regardless of your religious leaning. This ancient and powerful pointing supporting spiritual life has been my contemplation this week. This is a time of huge global confusion and transformation, a time when these three jewels may well help keep us on a steady keel. So let’s take a deeper look…
Take Refuge in the Buddha
So what has the Buddha come to symbolise in our modern society? A feeling of zen surrounds the oft used image of a buddha. Whether on or off screen or as a garden statue the buddha image invokes a sense of peace, compassion and enlightenment. And perhaps a sense of hope in an insane world. Taking refuge in the Buddha is a reminder of our fundamental buddha nature, and the possibility of experiencing Buddha mind.
A mind that is open, transparent, free and clear. An end to the tortuous monkey mind. And a reminder that we are, in essence, divine beings. Our true nature is covered or obscured by the patterns and programs that run through us (our samskaras). We’ve been conditioned or patterned by society, a flawed education system, family, trauma, peers and religious leanings. Much of this patterning has created psychic confusion taking us away from or obscuring our true nature. As we struggle to find purpose in life, this directive of taking refuge in the Buddha points us back to the truth of our spiritual or divine essence. When deep peace is our essence, creativity and open loving compassionate action becomes our natural way of living.
Take Refuge in the Dharma
Dharma has slightly different meanings in Buddhism, Pali, Sanskrit and Hinduism. In Sanskrit the word “dharma” comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to uphold or to sustain. From this perspective, dharma is the path of living righteousness-goodness which upholds or sustains and aligns us with our true essence. As one candle can light another in turn this nurtures the whole community.
The Dharmic path always supports choosing love over fear, releasing limited and prejudiced beliefs and patterns through personal spiritual evolution. One way of looking at it is ‘that which is able to bring about evolution is the path of Dharma’.
Thus to abide in this present moment as natural undisturbed peaceful loving flow of pure effortless action where all sense of separation and resistance vanishes could be said to be Living Dharma.
Take Refuge in the Sangha
Sangha is both a sanskrit and pali word meaning company or community. In Buddhism the Sangha refers to a group of ordained monks or nuns but from a yogic perspective the Sangha is the spiritual community. More than this the Sangha is a community or collective devoted to dissolving patterns of separation through insight, mindfulness and seeking truth. Whether it be a Yogic Sangha or a Buddhist Sangha the essence is the same. A like-minded community feeling of compassionate support, sharing and alignment with peaceful truthful, fearless living.
We humans are by default communal creatures. We have always lived in families, tribes or communities. Connection, validation and inclusivity is a deep human need. In spiritual life, our seeking for deeper meaning may take us away from old beliefs and connections. At this time having the support of a sangha or community committed to spiritual awakening can be very helpful. It is important there is a shared sense of true inquiry with transparency, honesty and openness.
Coming together for satsang or spiritual discussion, to sing, for retreat, or group yoga, prayer or meditation can be helpful. Each has their own path, yet we can share space and support each other along the way….. walking each other home to to the one self where ultimately separation dissolves and oneness is experienced.
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Namaste: I am you – you are me…. Soraya