CREDOS : The three jewels — III

Robert Thurman

Ultimately, we take refuge in reality itself, because that is the only secure refuge. If we took refuge in any unrealistic thing, it could be blown down by this-and-that. But when we take refuge in reality, that is what endures. It is not made by anyone. It is there, and therefore it can give ref-uge. The final taking of refuge is embodying reality in our being. The final refuge is only being Buddha ourselves. Opening to realityis to take refuge in the second jewel.

The third jewel is the Sangha, the community of those who enjoy the jewels of refuge, who learn that teaching, seek that understanding, and work to embody that Dharma. They are consciously evolving toward being Buddhas, sharing their understanding and bliss with others, as teachers of freedom to other beings, helping them discover these jewels. This includes all Buddhists everywhere in Sri Lanka, in Thailand, in Burma, in Tibet, in China, Japan, Vietnam, in ancient time and still now in India. Namo buddham sharanam gacchami. Namo dharmam sharanam gacchami. Namo sangham sharanam gacchami.

All Buddhists say this, each in his own language. Namo means “I bow,” meaning by bowing to express trust and faith and respect, to throw yourself on the mercy of another. Buddham is “to the Buddha.” Sharanam means “refuge,” a safe place of renewal. Gacchami means “I go.”

So, “I bow to Buddha and resort to him as refuge.” A shramana is “one who goes to refuge” from suffering. We sometimes translate it as “ascetic.” Dharmam sharanam gacchami, “I take refuge in reality.” Sangham sharanam gacchami, “I take refuge in the community.” —, concluded