Sunday, October 15, 2006
Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is not something that is done once, but something that all Buddhists should do as a matter of daily living. The Three Jewels--Buddha, Dharma and Sangha--are the cornerstone principles of Buddhist practice and in them, one finds refuge, an escape from the cycle of suffering called samsara.
Lately I have been very busy with my work, and while I never violated any of the precepts, I stopped my daily practice of mindfulness meditation and in general lived less mindfully. Exhausted by the stress of daily life, a couple of weeks ago I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I had moved away from the refuge of the Three Jewels. I had not been studying the Buddha's teachings, and I had ceased developing myself as a dharmasattva, a wise being. I had found myself disconnected from other dharma students who form my loosely-organized sangha.
Realizing the damage I was doing to myself physically, spiritually and mentally by neglecting my practice, I have come back to the refuge of the Three Jewels and assumed again the daily practice of mindfulness meditation.
So what I'm saying is that refuge is not something one does once, when one recites the three-pronged vow, but rather something one does again and again. One can stray and return, as I have.
At the foot of the Bodhi tree, beautifully seated, peaceful and smiling, the living source of understanding and compassion, to the Buddha I go for refuge.
The path of mindful living, leading to healing, joy, and enlightenment, the way of peace, to the Dhamma I go for refuge.
The loving and supportive community of practice, realizing harmony, awareness, and liberation, to the Sangha I go for refuge.
I am aware that the Three Gems are within my heart, I vow to realize them.
I vow to practice mindful breathing and smiling, looking deeply into things.
I vow to understand living beings and their suffering, to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, and to practice joy and equanimity.
I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning and to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon. I vow to live simply and sanely, content with just a few possessions, and to keep my body healthy.
I vow to let go of all worry and anxiety in order to be light and free.
I am aware that I owe so much to my parents, teachers, friends and all beings.
I vow to be worthy of their trust, to practice wholeheartedly, so that understanding and compassion will flower, and I can help living beings be free from their suffering.
May the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha support my efforts.