as part of an effort to learn, i undertake a good amount of research on the nature and meaning of what it is to take refuge in the Three Jewels and to more deeply understand what they represent and how they provide that which is most helpful to the process of becoming.
at every turn, thinking i grasp the concept, i find instead more to refine it, more to deepen it, and more to add to its luster. it is an interesting and deeply delightful thing, this seemingly infinite manner of understanding that as much reflects meaning as it defines it.
simply put, the Three Jewels of Buddhism are: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. in these three things, all who are Buddhists avow commitment and take refuge (set their minds, spirits, and bodies to hold them primary in all things); to remember and mindfully contemplate the nature of them, to delve infinitely into understanding them, to take and find in them protection, learning, and guidance.
the words themselves hold meaning within meaning and, it is in this process of researching that meaning that i take deep delight at present, for there is nothing of the three that cannot be applied to every circumstance readily available in my mind, memory, or remembrance… and there are, in every moment of meditation upon them, more and more such circumstances in which their gentle light lends beauty.
at first contact, looking only for conceptualization, i found that the three are interestingly ‘simple’ things to consider:
The Buddha is the concept/construct within which all that is or would seek to become buddha is bound. It is the remembrance of the first, it is hope of becoming, it is the sense of dedication that is bound in that hope, as well as the active contemplation and mindfulness toward what such hope asks of those who take refuge by embracing it.
The Dharma is a concept/construct in which many things are contained. As a reference to the sum of known literature, scripture, and teachings, it is the manifestation of The Buddha in words. As a reference to the act of encounter, it is a term meaning to make contact with this manifestation in the world. As a reference to the state of being, it is a term that means Truth (perfected and without need of mediation, readily available to all, as this is its natural state of existence).
The Sangha is a concept/construct that is as well filled with layers that seem infinite in application. Upon the surface, it refers to those who are of that manner of seeking, feet set upon the path. But it also refers to a truth that all such ones are each and every one striving toward enlightenment. Beyond this, it refers to those in our direct, day to day contact who are as we are, seeking and working to become. In this, setting before us examples of mindfulness in striving that may serve both as inspiration to continue as well as comfort in the knowledge that in such efforts, we are as one.
in this, a sense of comfort for the ease of understanding them as being not unlike tenets found in other belief systems. the concept that there is one who exemplifies all that is best and helpful of Buddhism was not surprising to me. the concept that the compilation of teachings and literature and discussion thereof exists and is held as creed or ideals for which to strive also is not surprising. that the concept of working with and amongst others of similar beliefs exists is equally expected.
then, i turn to dissecting the words themselves and understanding their meaning as both representations of cultural concepts and to contemplate the roots from which they spring. in this, the first hint of deeper meaning.
tonight, i contemplate the first of the Three, The Buddha.
The Buddha is, as stated above, representation of perfection in becoming, that for which we all strive. however it is also a title that applies to every one who chooses to embrace it. the word itself translates to ‘one who is awake’ and in this, great joy, for the simple act of trying is enough to anoint one’s soul with hope that such a thing be possible… and this title and honor is such that may be embraced regardless where one exists upon the path. the act of seeking, striving, it is enough.
i am uncertain if the meaning of this is something i can convey as the profound thing it seems.
i turn to metaphor for lack of words — it is like finding out that simply by virtue of opening one’s eyes, one is embraced and acknowledged as one able to become the very perfection that gleams and shimmers on the distant horizon as seemingly impossible. it is like saying aloud, ‘i shall never again tell a lie. only truth will pass my lips.’ and having all of existence, in purest sincerity, without doubt or laughter, nod and say in return, ‘yes, it is known as Truth.’
the very act of opening one’s soul and mind and body to try is the first and only act required to be acknowledged as able, sincere, and capable of finding the path.
this is a deeply beautiful thing here, the very simplicity of it becoming intensely meaningful for all the ways it affirms its own perfection in this.
it does not demand public display. it does not require loud noises of assertion. it does not ask for anything more than that one be awake.
i smile as i think to write, ‘in this, greatest joy… for being awake is not so difficult a thing, it is something we, each of us, manage every morning we live.’
and then, i gasp and in this moment, know greater joy… for immediately there arrives to the mind even deeper meaning, demonstrating all the more how intensely delightful and perfect it is… as the very concept of ‘being awake’ is, itself, a springboard to all manner of contemplation and realisation and learning.
‘being awake’ is a concept that operates on many, many levels and in which deeper context and meaning is found like a ribbon that scrolls in endless delight across the very fabric of existence. so many ways to apply it, and in each of them, only more learning, only deeper discovery, only joy.
one may ‘be awake’ as it first occurs to the mind — the state of physical existence as a conscious soul.
one may ‘be wake’ as in discovering and delving into what it is to exist in a state of consciousness both above and below that which is ‘normal’ within the context of culture or society… to seek connections between states of wakefulness.
one may ‘be awake’ as in pursuing increased awareness of the world itself, the people within it, and the manner in which all things are connected.
one may ‘be awake’ as in turning mindful effort toward understanding how all that exists, in its connectedness, is not ‘other’ or ‘self’, but simply ‘is’. the ramifications here alone are enough to boggle the mind.
one may ‘be awake’ as in moving through even all the above to contemplate the Truth of what ‘being’ means across all the contexts in which such a thing may be applied (and it is applicable to all).
this one pauses here, as much to catch breath as to know the fullness of wonder in these things as they are placed on the page for consideration. in all ways, upon all levels, this first of the Three Jewels is embraced and accepted as most delightful, most pure, most enlightening, perfection without need of embellishment beyond admission of it.