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Lions Roar : March 2018
ing of all living beings, we are practicing the dharma. When we are generous with our time, attention, and love, we embody the dharma. When we resolve to be truthful, to treasure a clear mind, and to engage the world with respect and appreciation, we live the dharma. The teachings of profound wisdom found in the volumes of scriptures are intended not only to be absorbed only as an intellectual exercise but also to be assimilated and embodied. All of us are asked to take the teachings off the bookshelves and into every dimension of our lives, leaving nothing untouched. We come to know the wisdom of a buddha when the dharma is our life and our life is the dharma. Making life into dharma is an ongoing practice, which is why it is called a path. The Sangha: Relationships The sangha, or the community of the wise, can be understood on at least three levels. One is called the noble sangha, the community of those who are awakened and embody that wisdom. These are the buddhas and teachers who inspire and encourage us. We aspire to follow their example. The sangha is also the monastic order of monks and nuns, people who inspire us with the simplicity and integrity of their lives. They are a living presence of renunciation and commitment. Finally, the sangha is found in the communities and rela- tionships of trust and integrity we nurture in our own lives. Genuine sangha is any relationship that treasures harmony and practices the wisdom of interconnectedness. It is in community that we discover how hard it is to live in a truly ethical way. It is in community that our commit- ment to kindness and openness is challenged, that we begin to understand that generosity and forgiveness require letting go. Nowhere else in our lives are we so vulnerable as in our rela- tionships, so the Buddha’s teaching encourages us to cultivate a wise vulnerability. To learn how to speak truthfully, to listen without defensiveness, to learn how to offer and receive kind- ness, to let go of our personal story and listen deeply to our universal story, are all lessons of wise community. The triple gem is three parts that are completely interwoven. They hold within them the whole of the teaching and path of liberation. We call Buddha, dharma, and sangha the three jewels or treasures because they have profound and enduring value. Nurtured together, they lead to unshakeable liberation. CHRISTINA FELDMAN is a guiding teacher of the Insight Medita- tion Society and co-founder of Gaia House in England. Her most recent book is Boundless Heart: The Buddha’s Path of Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity. Homeless and Groundless By Chögyam Trungpa IN THE BUDDHIST TRADITION, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion and associate oneself with wakefulness. Taking refuge is a matter of commitment and acceptance and, at the same time, of openness and freedom. By taking the refuge vow we commit ourselves to freedom. When we take refuge we commit ourselves to the Buddhist path. This is not only a simple but also an extremely econom- ical approach. Henceforth we will be on the particular path that was strategized, designed, and well thought-out twenty- six hundred years ago by the Buddha and the followers of his teaching. There is already a pattern and a tradition; there is already a discipline. We no longer have to run after that person or this person. We no longer have to compare our lifestyle with anybody else’s. Once we take this step, we have no alternatives; there is no longer the entertainment of indulging in so-called freedom. We take a definite vow to enter a discipline of choice- lessness—which saves us a lot of money, a lot of energy, and lots and lots of superfluous thinking. Perhaps this approach may seem repressive, but it is really based on a sympathetic attitude toward our situation. To work on ourselves is really only possible when there are no sidetracks, no exits. Usually we tend to look for solutions from something new, something outside: a change in society or politics, a new diet, a new theory. Or else we are always finding new things to blame our problems on, such as relationships, society, what have you. Working on oneself, without such exits or sidetracks, is the Buddhist path. By taking refuge, in some sense we become homeless refugees. Taking refuge does not mean saying that we are helpless and then handing all our problems over to somebody or something else. There will be no refugee rations, nor all kinds of security and dedicated help. The point of becoming a refugee is to give up our attachment to basic security. We have to give up our sense of home ground, which is illusory anyway. We might have a sense of home ground as where we were born and the way we look, but we don’t actually have any home, fundamentally speaking. There is actually no solid basis of security in one’s life. And because we don’t have any home ground, we are lost souls, so to speak. Basically we are completely lost and confused and, in some sense, pathetic. These are the particular problems that provide the reference point from which we build the sense of becoming a Buddhist. Relating to being lost and confused, we are more open. We begin to see that in seeking security we can’t grasp onto any- thing; everything continually washes out and becomes shaky, constantly, all the time. And that is what is called life. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 64