[ed. note: this intial few paragraphs are maintained as introduction to those who may arrive to a single page rather than seeing this as part three of a series. for those following the series, these introductory paragraphs are now italicized, kindly feel free to scroll down to where you find this ends and read from the point of, “tonight, i contemplate the third of the Three, The Sangha.”]
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.
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 third of the three, The Sangha.
in contemplation of this third Jewel, this one considers it first as a gift — to know example of striving in the world, and to have ready access to ones who engage and demonstrate the effort, to share with them and know of them the manner in which they too, strive. the sense that one is not alone and, through it, a deeper understanding of the connectedness that is all is more deeply delivered.
in contemplation of this, a sense of deep wonder for the manner in which all things of being and becoming are so consistently reflected and reiterated in these Three Jewels. in every way, each embraces and lends strength to the others, and, as a whole, deliver such hope of possiblity as to give deep delight for having that hope exist not only as a thing precious to the soul, but as a light that guides along the path of existence itself. in every way, joy.
this one has the sense that the deepest gift of The Sangha to those who take refuge in it is this gift of sharing. in it, to be free of impediment by the various systems of peerage and classification that so often seem to serve to striate and separate people from one another.
in what pitiful understanding this one holds in this moment, a calm and peaceful aura that envelopes all effort of embracing this third Jewel… and while this one knows many moments in which striving fails to humanity, there is yet a sense of hope for finding moments in which striving may know ascendancy, all of which are delivered in the simple act of finding others who openly share their own efforts, a community of mindfulness that is dedicated in all ways to supporting enlightenment in others as a means through which to find it within.
in embrace of The Sangha, this one finds acceptance that all striving is bound in togetherness and connection, the only possible outcome of which is that the sense of pridefulness or accomplishment or competitiveness simply melts away. the relief of this result is, itself, motivation to delve more deeply into connecting and sharing. this too, seems a precious thing.
still, in many ways, this one yet discovers those knots of pride. there are many moments in which the sense of seeing, of beginning to understand brings that foolish fullness that would be self, proclaiming to the world some level of success that, in truth, is yet indication of abject failure to succeed.
this one strives to turn that foolishness to wisdom by asking repeatedly — how may this one know a sense of achievement to see it lacking in the world? is not the world entire striving to achieve, and can this one lay claim to an end that is not known within all?
in many ways, these articles are not as much some proclaimation of ‘knowledge’ as a mindful effort to set forth what pitiful seeing is had, perhaps in it to better develop that which would someday be a fuller embrace and free of any taint of certainty or pride.
in this, it seems a more mindful embrace of The Sangha works at once as evidence of how unnecessary pride is as well as demonstration of how to walk more slowly in the world, and seek instead of ‘accomplishment’ to deliver the sense of it to others.
The Sangha is perhaps, most tender of the Three Jewels for the lessons it provides, certainly this one finds that it sends them gently. this one contemplates the manner in which mindfulness in embrace of The Sangha results in the giving through which it is possible to better receive the lessons it would provide.
this one contemplates the manner in which to give mindfully to all is a better striving than to receive at all.
this one contemplates as well that only in such giving may this one ever hope to know bliss in the world… looking with unfocused eyes upon what seems a lesson… only when all things know bliss may it be truly known in this one.
These pitiful thoughts, presented as humbly as possible to whomever may choose to read them. Hope is bound in the wish that in setting them here, perhaps some small and humble gift that may serve.