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22 Vows Acknowledgement  | Buddhism  DedicationDr Ambedkar Movie  |  Education

THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)

THE BUDDHA

 

The first Gem is the Buddha. When people take their refuge in the Buddha, they speak the following words in Pali. "Buddham Saranam Gacchami", which means:" I go to the Buddha for refuge."  Here Buddha signifies final liberation, is a description of the Enlightened One, the Blessed One, who has obtained omniscient knowledge and not any particular person. The Buddha is the discoverer of the Truth. He is enlightened by omniscience, enlightened by seeing and knowing every enlightened by seeing all in their true states. He had developed the wisdom to see and to experience the truth of all beings. Everything in life is impermanent and thus it is unsatisfactory. People suffer from old age, sickness and death. In spite of this truth people still cling to the things in and around themselves. Thus they are not able to see reality. For us it is difficult to experience the truth of impermanency. Mind and matter arise and fall away all the time, but one cannot experience this of one's wisdom is not developed. It is difficult to be aware of Mind and Matter when they appear and to realize what they really are. They are only phenomena which are impermanent and they do not constitute the self.

The more we realize how difficult it is to see things as they are, the more we understand that the Lord Buddha's wisdom must have been of the highest degree. The Lord Buddha taught that everything in life is dukkha. Dukkha literally means suffering or unsatisfactoryness. However, the experience of dukkha is much deeper than a feeling of sorrow or contemplation about suffering. The experience of the impermanency of the mind and matter in our life is the realization that none of those phenomena is true happiness. Some people may think that pondering over this truth already is the experience of dukkha (suffering). However, one does not know the truth if one merely thinks about it. When one directly experience the arising and falling away of mind and matter, one has experience the truth of dukkha. Then one will learn to be less attached to mind and matter.

Everything in our life is impermanent, even what we call happiness is impermanent. It is only a mental phenomenon which arises and falls away immediately. How can that which falls away as soon as it has arisen be real happiness?

The Lord Buddha was always mindful and clearly conscious. He did not have ignorance about any reality. When we realize how difficult mindfulness is, we deeply respect the great wisdom of the Lord Buddha. The Lord Buddha is called the "Awakened One", because he is awakened to the truth.

The Lord Buddha had by his enlightenment attained the greatest purity. He had completely eradicated all defilements. The Lord Buddha became enlightened in this world. He taught so that people in this world can develop such high degree of wisdom that they can become completely free from defilements and latent tendencies. The Lord Buddha was full of compassion for everybody. The fact that the Lord Buddha was free from defilements does not mean that he would withdraw from the world and that he did not want to think of those who still have defilements. The Lord Buddha knew what it means to be free from all sorrow. Therefore he helped other people to attain this freedom as well. One can help other people by kindness, by generosity, and in many other ways. The most precious thing one can give others is to show them the way to true happiness. The Lord Buddha proved his great compassion to the people by teaching them Dhamma (Reality). When Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha statue they do not pray to a Buddha in heaven, since the Lord Buddha has passed away completely. Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha statue because they think with deep reverence and gratefulness of His virtues: of His wisdom. His purity and His compassion.

There were other Buddhas before Gautam, the Buddha. All Buddhas find the truth by themselves, without being led by others. However, there are two different kinds of Buddha: the  "Sammasambuddha" (Fully Enlightened Buddha) and the "Pacceka Buddha" or "Silent Buddha". The silent Buddha has not accumulated virtues to the same extent as the Sammasambuddha and thus he is not as qualified in teaching other people as the Sammasambuddha. Gautam, the Buddha was a Sammasambuddha. There can not be more than one Sammasambuddha in a "Buddha era", neither can there be a silent Buddha. The Buddha era in which we are still living will be terminated when the Buddha's teachings have disappeared completely.

Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha.

What does the word refuge mean? The Paramatthajotika commentary speak about the meaning of the world "refuge" when people have gone for "refuge", then by that very going for refuge, it combats, dispels, carries off, and stops their fear, anguish, suffering, (risk of) unhappy destination (on rebirth), and defilement, with confidence therein and give preponderance thereto, from which defilement is eliminated and eradicated, and which occurs in the mode of taking that as the highest value ..?"

Going for refuge to the Buddha does not mean that the Lord Buddha would eradicate people's defilements.  The Lord Buddha said that the dhamma (teaching) and the vinaya (rules) would be his successor. Today the Lord Buddha is not longer with us, but one takes refuge in the Buddha when one has confidence in his teachings and one considers it the most important thing in life to practice what He taught.

Although a Buddhist seeks a refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide and teacher who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him.  It is not within the power even of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. Strictly speaking, one can neither purify nor defile another. The Buddha, as teacher, may be instrumental, but we ourselves are responsible for our purifications by mediation.

Buddhist does not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favours, but pay their homage to what it represents. A Buddhist goes before an image and offers flowers and incense not to the image but to Buddha. He does so as a mark of gratitude, reflecting on the virtues of the Buddha. An understanding Buddhist designedly makes himself feel that he is in the noble presence of the Buddha and thereby gain inspiration to emulate him.  Though such external forms of homage are prevalent amongst Buddhists, the Buddha is not worshiped as a God.

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