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The Means (5)

The Means (5)

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The Means (5)

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  1. The Means (5) How are the goals achieved? Taking refuge in the three Jewels helps human beings to achieve the goals.

  2. Sub-topics • The Buddha — his life and example (the 4 Sights, Going Forth and Enlightenment). • The Dhamma — the Truth; not the source of enlightenment but indicating the way. • The Sangha — the Aryasangha; lay Buddhists; monks and nuns; Western Buddhist communities. • (Therevada and Mahayana understandings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha should be addressed).

  3. The Three Jewels/Refuges • “Just about every Buddhist tradition includes taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. These three provide a focus for our commitment and for our reflections on the practice.” Ajahn Sumedho, The Mind and the Way

  4. The Three Jewels/Refuges • When someone formally decides to become a Buddhist, he or she recites what is called the Three Jewels/Refuges, three times each: • I take refuge in the Buddha, • I take refuge in the Dhamma, • I take refuge in the Sangha. …or as it was developed by the Buddha himself in Pali • Buddham saranam gacchami • Dhamman saranam gacchami • Sangham saranam gacchami

  5. The Three Jewels/Refuges • Called the ‘Jewels’ as they are so precious and valuable. • Commitment to Buddha as teacher; Dhamma as guidance; and Sangha as companions through life.

  6. The Three Jewels from a Buddhists perspective • Consciously identifying enlightenment as his/her ultimate aim (including acceptance of Buddhist understanding of ‘true happiness’). • Making a personal commitment to follow the Buddha’s teachings and put them into practice (scriptures, practices, festivals etc.)

  7. The Three Jewels from a Buddhists perspective • ‘Refuge’ does not mean a place to ‘hide’ or to ‘escape’ to e.g. refuge in the Buddha does not mean a Buddhist is pleading or praying for salvation. • Rather a decision based on the conviction that we have the potential for enlightenment, and it is possible to awaken this potential.

  8. The Three Jewels from a Buddhists perspective • ‘Refugees’ from samsara, the endless cycle of suffering. • Refuge means an expression of reliance the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha but most importantly your own enlightenment potential.

  9. Dhammapada 380 • ‘One is one’s own master, one’s own refuge.’ • So what does this mean for your everyday life?

  10. ‘Refuge’ in everyday life • A commitment to make every effort not to harm others or ourselves in any way. • So how does a Buddhist take refuge?

  11. How does a Buddhist take refuge? • Refuge ceremony: usually held in local monastery with several monks to witness the recitation. In Buddhist countries this takes place when children are about 7 (however they are free to change religion with no sanctions). In the Tibetan tradition you are given a refuge name and if a lay person, a small lock of hair is cut to symbolise the giving up of vanity in favour of spiritual values. • Reciting refuges: each day as a reminder of the original commitment. Morning and evening prayers begin with recitations.


  13. The Buddha • Hislife and example: • The 4 Sights (Old age, Sickness, Death and a Holy Man or Ascetic) • Going Forth (Dissatisfaction with life, mission to find an answer to suffering and the cycle of rebirth) • Enlightenment (Finding the middle way, realising reality, defeating Mara)

  14. The Buddha • Following enlightenment he taught until his death. • The teaching were preserved orally for about 500 years, then written down. • Good extract p.107

  15. Therevada Acknowledge historical role in communicating Dhamma: historical founder. Buddha (Shakyamuni) as ultimate teacher and guide: his life sets an example. An extraordinary human being, the embodiment of enlightenment. Mahayana Trikaya doctrine of earthly, heavenly and ‘transcendent’. Refuge all other buddhas of the past and the future (not just Buddha Shakyamuni). Most significantly to Sambhogakaya buddhas as well. Variation within Mahayana: Pure Land - Buddha Amitabha; Zen - buddha nature within. The Buddha

  16. The Dhamma • Dhamma (Skt) or Dharma (P) have many different meanings: Universal truth; Teachings of the Buddha; Path; Personal realisation of truths; ‘Buddhism’. • Taking refuge in it: means an understanding that the teachings of the Buddha are there to be heard, read, studied, understood, practised and realised. • The most important? The Dhamma can be seen as the key that opens the meaning of all of the Three Refuges.

  17. The Dhamma • Not a source of enlightenment in and of itself – analogy with path to a mountain / raft to cross the ocean to nibbana. • The Buddha’s finger pointing to the moon. • Good extract p.109

  18. The Dhamma: Tripitaka (3 baskets) • A Therevada approach in particular. Mahayana accept teachings from other sources too. • Think back to one of the Buddhists first teachings – what works for you. • The Dhamma must be interpreted – Buddhists seek to find lessons from wherever they can. • The Tripitaka are: • Vinaya pitaka • Sutta pitaka • Abhidhamma pitaka

  19. Tripitaka: Vinaya pitaka • Rules and guidelines for monastics. • Includes ‘punishments’ and is mainly concerned with physical concerns e.g. sex, drugs, negative thoughts, vanity etc. •

  20. Tripitaka: Sutta pitaka • Elaborations on teachings of the Buddha (by the Buddha). • Use of analogies etc. •

  21. Tripitaka: Abhidhamma pitaka • Theoretical rather than practical – focus on philosophy of teachings. •

  22. The Dhamma: Mahayana understanding • The main point of difference between traditions is the composition of what is accepted as the body of scripture. • Emphasis on taking refuge in the Dhamma as universal truth, not necessarily the words of scripture e.g Zen places more emphasis on meditation than scriptural study (the ultimate truth is beyond words, words are a hindrance).

  23. The Sangha • Brainstorm some ideas about these words: BUDDHIST MONK BUDDHIST

  24. The Sangha • Various misconceptions about Buddhist monks: • Meditate all day long • Live within monastery walls • No contact with community • Don’t have jobs, don’t earn money • Various misconceptions about Buddhists: • They are all monks! • Give up all their possessions • Give up sex, alcohol, chocolate etc.

  25. The Sangha • The community of those who follow the Buddhist path. • Monks and nuns: called bhikkus and bhikkunis these are the ordained members of the Buddhist community. Aiming for enlightenment and have devoted their life to attaining it (Therevada Arhat and Mahayana Bodhisattva). • Aryasangha: a subgroup within the monastics – enlightened beings like the Dalai Lama (the elite?). • Lay people: ordinary, everyday Buddhists who follow the teachings in a varying degree of strictness. Usually hoping to produce good kamma throughout lives.

  26. The Sangha: the role of monastics • First initiated by the Buddha, who set out rules and guidelines. • Primary role is to maintain Buddhism as a living religion: study scripture; practise meditation every day; teach the Dhamma to others; perform ritual and ceremony; offer advice according to Buddhist values. • In their personal lives: uphold ethical values as living examples of the Dhamma.

  27. The Sangha: the role of monastics • By taking refuge a lay person is acknowledging the vital role that monastics play. • Members of the ordained Sangha are worthy of respect and gifts (positive kamma). Just as a seed planted in better ground yields better fruit… • More practically lay people honour the monastics with respectful behaviour, food, clothing, medicines etc. and rely on them for advice.

  28. The Sangha: Mahayana understanding • Quite different from Therevada, and variation within Mahayana traditions. Main difference concerns the nature of monasticism: • the role of monks • their way of life • the discipline they follow • their relation to the larger community

  29. The Sangha: Mahayana understanding • In China and Japan the Therevada Vinaya (rules and guidelines) evolved and changed e.g. • True Pure Land Buddhism (Japan): no monks, priests instead who are allowed to marry and have families, take jobs and earn money. Live as householders and perform duties on certain occasions only.

  30. The Sangha: Mahayana understanding • Sambhogakaya buddhas and bodhisattvas are included within ‘Sangha’ that you take refuge into. • You can aspire to emulate them, develop their enlightened qualities and pray for help and protection.

  31. The Sangha: Western Buddhist Communities • For FWBO see pp. 113-114 • Kagyu Samye Ling: Europe’s oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to have been established in the West. • Located on the banks of the river Esk in Scotland. • Open to people of all faiths and none. • Offers meditation retreats and courses available throughout the year.

  32. Kagyu Samye Ling • Founded in 1967 and currently under the guidance of Abbot Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche (right). • Samye Ling is part of Rokpa Trust, a registered charity which has three main areas of activity: spiritual, humanitarian aid, and Tibetan medicine and therapy.

  33. Kagyu Samye Ling – wee research project • Make an information sheet on Kagyu Samye Ling- to be given out to all pupils on the way there (no more than 2 pages of A4). If you want to go to Samye Ling you must complete this activity. • Make it as original, eye catching and informative as you can. Your peers (and maybe even a monk) will be reading it! •

  34. Sub-topics: check your learning • The Buddha — his life and example (the 4 Sights, Going Forth and Enlightenment). • The Dhamma — the Truth; not the source of enlightenment but indicating the way. • The Sangha — the Aryasangha; lay Buddhists; monks and nuns; Western Buddhist communities. • (Therevada and Mahayana understandings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha should be addressed).