#4: The dharma & sangha jewels

26 January 2010 - 8:01pm Comments Off

The Dharma Jewel

Dharma is the sayings and discourses of the Buddha. The Buddha gave 84,000 teachings during his lifetime , each of which are specific antidotes to the 84,000 afflictions of our mind which give rise to suffering.

The term ‘Dharma’ can be understood at many levels. At the deepest level, everything can be said to be Dharma. This refers to the ultimate nature of all things. All things in this world arise in dependence upon various causes and conditions. From their side, they do not have any intrinsic or substantial values. We project or superimpose values onto them. This is why we can have different opinions and beliefs about anything.

Attitudes and behaviours  which have a moral or ethical base can also be considered Dharmic. Moral discipline is the cause of a human rebirth. The psycho-physical make up of a human provides the ideal basis to become a Buddha.

Dharma knowledge transforms into true Dharma Jewels when we attain inner realisations in dependence upon them. It is the actual medicine which can overcome all our problems. In Buddhism, how Dharmic one is has a direct relationship with how much one cares for others and one’s aspirations.

At the very least one should not cause harm to others by taking responsibility to overcome one’s negative habits. Normally one has no thoughts of harming others, but when conditions change and we suffer losses or when problems arise, the seeds of harmfulness in us will be activated and directed at others. To protect others and ourselves, one needs to be free from all kinds of suffering by attaining the peace of nirvana. This is called Liberation.

The highest aspiration is to attain Buddhahood out of compassion for others who are suffering just like us and who do not know how to get out. Only by becoming a Buddha can one have perfect skills arising from perfect wisdom to help others achieve the same.

Presently, when we engage in any actions, we do not have the above goals in mind. Our motivation is rooted in worldly concerns such as developing a liking for gain, praise, fame and sense pleasures and being averse to loss, blame, shame, and discomfort.

How did we get hooked to these worldly dharmas?

We believe that external things are the causes of happiness. We had spent our whole life chasing after these objects and relationships. Nobody told us until Buddha came along and admonished we are barking up the wrong tree.

He declared there is no happiness outside of one’s mind. The secret of everlasting happiness is within us. A few hundred years later, holy Jesus also declared the same.

Looking inwards is the first step towards attaining Liberation. Instead of being an ordinary external being, we become an inner being – a mind-oriented person, a true Dharma practitioner.

At the most subtle levels of understanding what a Dharma jewel is, we enter the profound. It is beyond the scope here to explore the Dharma realm that is non-dual, non-conceptual and void of inherent existence. What we need to understand and appreciate is that any of the above realizations will lead us out of all suffering and into permanent inner peace of Liberation and bliss of Enlightenment.


The Sangha Jewel

This is the spiritual community. Strictly speaking they are the ordained Sangha in a monastic institution who have attained certain qualities of realizations. A true Sangha jewel must necessarily be one who has attained some level of perfection in order to be a source of Refuge. Generally it can also apply to the members of a spiritual organisation.

The Sangha support and inspire those on the path by putting the Buddha’s instructions into practice and by upholding pure moral discipline. They are good examples of those who have renounced worldly pleasures and discovered a higher more stable quality of happiness without the accompanying push and pull forces.

They inspire us to adopt this alternative way of life, and show us that enlightenment is possible. Unlike them,  like a moth attracted to a candlelight, we do not realize external objects of desire lead us to suffering. We are blind to the reality that the pleasures we experience are merely a reduction of suffering.

Taking refuge in the 3 Jewels is called the Gateway to Buddhadharma.The instructions of the Buddha protect us by revealing to us what to abandon (causes of suffering) and what to cultivate (true causes of happiness and inner peace).

There are no other sources of Refuge that can offer total protection from the harms of cyclic existence and one’s self cherishing ways that keep us within this vicious cycle.

This 2500 year old wisdom is now right in front of you on your  pc screen.

Don’t be a loser! The smart and wise way is not to buy up all the jewels in the world, but to become a wishfulling jewel ourselves.

We are all very fortunate to meet the Dharma  now.

The door is open, the path is clear. We just have to walk.

As H.E. Tsem Rinpoche said, ‘If not now, when?’ You can even take a GPS along to guide you unmistakenly – its called the Lamrim.

At journeys end we will see the world we all wish for become reality – a peaceful world without suffering and where happiness is everlasting.

Next Week : Karma and Chameleon.

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