One thing that has been on my mind lately are the Three Jewels of Buddhism. Buddhism is groovy in that people don’t convert to it, they take shelter in it. This is an important difference to understand. Buddhism is a Way, a technology that jives with the cosmos. It is not the only one but it is special. When you become buddhist, you take the refuge vow. The refuge vow varies from sect to sect but at the essence of it you are committing to take shelter in the Three Jewels and renounce a reactive life of karma.
A simple refuge vow goes as follows:
I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Dharma.
I take refuge in the Sangha.
While the vow is said aloud and sometimes in a ceremony, true refuge occurs within. However, the vows are much more than accepting the Buddha as enlightened, the Dharma as truth, and the Sangha as your group of fellow buddhists. The vows are the technology at the core of buddhism.
Taking refuge in the Buddha means accepting the idea of enlightenment or self-realization, even if you aren’t sure it’s real just yet. Everything has Buddha-nature and this vow asserts that you may return to that nature whenever you desire. Taking refuge in the Dharma means taking refuge in Truth. The Dharma isn’t laws and precepts and concepts. The Dharma is the immutable truth of nature and reality. It is gravity and stem cell research and shrooms and psychology. Taking refuge in the Dharma means you commit to seeing the world as it is, not as you want it to be. And finally, taking refuge in the Sangha (buddhist community) means losing the sense of separateness from everyone else on the Path. Any pilgrim who walks the path, buddhist, hindu, or otherwise are indelibly bound together.
I may not consider myself a traditional buddhist but I fully utilize the precious gifts that are the three jewels. They are there for anyone to find relief from samsara.
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