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22 Vows Acknowledgement  | Buddhism  DedicationDr Ambedkar Movie  |  Education

THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)

THE DHAMMA

 

The second of the Three Gems the Buddhists take their refuge in is the Dhamma. When we take our refuge in the Dhamma they say: "Dhammam Saranam Gacchami", which means:" I go for refuge to the Dhamma."

What does the word Dhamma mean? Most people think that Dhamma means doctrine, but the word Dhamma has many more meanings. Dhamma means everything which is real, no matter whether it is good or bad. Dhamma comprises for example seeing, sound, greed and honesty. We cannot take our refuge in every Dhamma, for instance we cannot take our refuge in greed or hate. We cannot even go for refuge to our parents, to husband or wife, because we are bound to be separated from them sooner or later.

Can we take our refuge in our good deeds?                

The effect of a good deed is never lost, since each good deed will bring its fruit accordingly.

Nirvana is the Dhamma which is the second Gem. Nirvana is a Gem of the highest value, because there is nothing more preferable than complete freedom from all sorrow. Nirvana is real: even if one cannot experience Nirvana yet, it should be considered the goal of life. If one follows the right Path one might realize Nirvana even during this life time. People may think it is not very desirable not to be born again. If we have not attained Nirvana yet we cannot imagine what Nirvana is like. It makes therefore not much sense to speculate about Nirvana.

What is the Path leading to Nirvana?

Nirvana cannot be attained merely by wishing to achieve it. Can people attain Nirvana in doing good deeds?

Even when one performs good deeds there can still be the idea of self. Good deeds without the right understanding of realities cannot eradicate the belief in a self and the other defilements. Thus they cannot lead to Nirvana.

Only meditation (Vipassana) leads to the eradication of all defilements. One may wonder whether the practice of insight meditation (vipassana) means that it is not necessary to do other good deeds. The answer is that the wisdom developed in meditation (vipassana) helps us to be kind and considerate to other people in our deeds and speech. We learn to use every opportunity to eradicate unwholesomeness. Every time there is awareness of the mind or matter which appears at that moment, some of the accumulated conception of self is eradicated. If there is awareness of mind or matter while one is observing precepts or doing other kinds of good deeds, one is on the Path leading to Nirvana.

The development of vipassana is a life task for most of us, since we are not used to the direct experience of the mind or matter which appears through one of the five senses or through the mind.

We are used to think of realities which are already past or which might present themselves in the future. We should not expect to learn awareness in one day or even within one year. We cannot tell how much progress is made each day, because wisdom develops very gradually.

When wisdom is highly developed Nirvana can be realized.

Dhamma is deep and difficult to understand. People cannot understand Dhamma if they still cling to their own views. If they would really study the teachings and persevere in the practice of what is taught, they will find out for themselves whether one can take one's refuge in the dhamma. When we have experienced what the Lord Buddha taught as the reality, even if we cannot yet experience everything he taught, we do not want to exchange our understanding for anything else in life.

If we have the right understanding of realities and if we develop wisdom, we will have dhamma as a support. Thus we take refuge in the Dhamma.

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