Taking Refuge In The Three Jewels
The Thomas Fire along with the other fires in the region has challenged our community. The first responders and firefighters have done a tremendous job of keeping us safe. All of us have been affected in some way, and many in our community have lost their homes. Our love and prayers go out to everyone affected and we are here to support you at Jai Rhythm.
The Buddha instructed his followers to take refuge in the three jewels of the practice. What are the three jewels of the practice? They are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha is the possibility of any human being to awaken as well as the those who embody the Buddha’s teachings. The Dharma is the wisdom teachings and practices of awakened beings. The Sangha is the spiritual community locally, globally and throughout time.
In challenging moments, it is helpful to remember to take refuge in the three jewels of the practice that are always available to us no matter what circumstance or situation we may find ourselves in. Combined, these three powerful tools can guide us to more peace and calm by providing us with a complete support system from which to meet the current life situation we are facing.
The first jewel of the practice is the Buddha, the ability of everyone to become more awake in their lives. This does not necessarily mean just the historical Buddha, known as Shakyamuni Buddha, formerly the prince Siddhartha. The word buddha means the awakened one,” meaning the possibility for every being to awaken to Buddha consciousness. It also refers to all those who have achieved an enlightened consciousness. The first jewel asserts that all beings no matter their race, creed, color, religion, socio-economic status, origin, gender, sexual orientation has the right to awaken. The possibility for each of us to awaken to more freedom, peace, and joy is always available to everyone.
The second jewel of the practice is the Dharma, which are the wisdom methods and teachings we practice to bring about a more awakened consciousness. The word dharma means the ultimate truth of reality. The word has many meanings, but in this sense, it also means the teachings from those who have achieved an enlightened consciousness such as the Buddha. These teachings open us up to the true nature of reality. Often in the form of sacred scriptures, writings, art, literature, and practices, following the dharma will give us more insight into the true nature of reality. What is beautiful about this part of the practice is that we are each able to select the teachings and practices that resonate with us at a moment in our lives. The teachings and practices that help us through one situation may not be the teachings and practices that help us through a different circumstance. We are truly our own teachers as we explore the wisdom teachings of the world and learn to apply them to our own life and learning.
The third jewel of the practice is the Shangha. The sangha is our spiritual community, encompassing all those who enjoy applying and learning about the jewels of practice. Sangha forms a crucial element of our practice as we come to the realization that we practice not only for ourselves, but for all those around us as well. Our community is there to support us when things get tough, and to celebrate our victories and triumphs. Our community can help us stay focused, motivated and inspired when we are feeling drained, distracted or exhausted. Thich Nhat Hanh declared, “The next Buddha will be a sangha.” The Sangha can be our local community but is also the greater global collective of beings working to become more free and awake. Together, the three jewels are a reliable structure to help us meet life with an open mind and heart.
The three jewels of the practice can help us create a framework from which to recuperate from trauma and loss. The Buddha said, “Take refuge in the three jewels.” What does it mean to take refuge? To take refuge is to rest in the security that the practice can provide us. We take refuge by coming back to the heart of our practice and letting go into the support that our practice provides. The three jewels are a tangible and practical way to center ourselves in times of uncertainty.
We are here for you to take refuge at Jai Rhythm Yoga. We have organized lots of ways receive support as well as ways to get involved in supporting others. Please check out the opportunities we have put together in this e-mail and listed on our website on our Thomas Fire Initiatives web page. Please help us spread the word about these initiatives. If you have ways you would like to offer support, please reach out if we can help in some way. We hope to see you at the studio soon.
Founder, Jai Rhythm Yoga