Great Compassion Mantra
The Triple Jewel
To the Buddha I return and rely,
Vowing that all living beings
Understand the great Way profoundly
And bring forth the Bodhi Mind.
|To the Dharma I return
Vowing that all living beings
Deeply enter the Sutra treasury
And have wisdom like the sea.
To the Sangha I return and rely,
Vowing that all living beings
Form together a great assembly,
One and all in harmony.
1. The Buddha2. The Dharma and 3. The Sangha
"Rare indeed! Rare indeed! All beings have the Buddha-nature. All can become Buddhas. It is only because of false thinking and attachments that they do not realize it." (words spoken by the Buddha upon his Awakening)
"What are the two roots? Ananda, the first is the root of beginningless birth and death, which is the mind that seizes upon conditions that you and all living beings now make use of, taking it to be your Selfnature. The second is the primal bright essence of consciousness, that can bring forth all conditions. Because of conditions you consider it to be lost." (Shurangama Sutra)
"You do not know that the physical body, as well as the mountains, the rivers, space and t he great earth are all within the wonderful bright true minds." (Shurangama Sutra)
"Buddha" literally means "one who is awake or enlightened". The Buddha-nature is inherent in all beings from the lowliest insects to the highest gods. Because of our upside down thinking we are as if in a dream, so that all the internal and external phenomenon which we experience are unreal. When our upside down thinking ceases we awaken from the dream and realize our true nature. At that time no one has to tell us that we were previously dreaming, because we know it through our own experience. When we awaken we do not lose anything because what we had previously grasped onto was false to begin with. We also do not gain anything because our inherent pure bright nature had never been lost, merely forgotten.
Because all beings have the Buddha-nature Buddhism includes all living beings. For this reason Buddhism does not contend with other religions of philosophies.
"I send down the rain of Dharma filling all the world. The Dharma of one taste is cultivated according to each one's ability, just like those forest groves, and all the herbs and trees, according to their size grow and flourish well. The Dharma of all the Buddhas is always of a single taste. It causes all in the world to attain perfection. Through it's gradual cultivation all attain the fruits of the Path." (Lotus Sutra)
"Further seen are all the Buddhas, the Lions, the Sagely Master, expounding on the Sutra-scriptures of foremost subtlety and wonder. Clear and pure is the sound of their soft, compliant voices, teaching all the Bodhisattvas, numbering in the countless millions. The Brahma-sound, profound and wondrous, fills those who hear it with joy, as within his world, each one proclaims the proper Dharma. Through various causes and conditions, and limitless analogies they clarify the Buddha-dharma to enlighten living beings." (Lotus Sutra)
By studying the Buddhist scriptures (Sutras) we learn the Dharma. The Dharma includes all the methods of practice taught by the Buddha which cause us to awaken to our true nature. They are means to an end, not an end in themselves. The minds of living beings are different, so the dharma required to transform them are different. So it is said that the myriad dharma-doors are like so many kinds of medicines to cure the various sicknesses of living beings' sufferings. The best dharma for a particular being is the one which is the most appropriate to his nature and circumstances. No dharma is intrinsically better or worse than another.
"He turns the inconceivable, wondrous wheel of dharma, and makes known the conduct of the Path to Bodhi (Awakening).
"Which destroys the sufferings of all living beings forever." (Flower Adornment Sutra)
"Bhikshus who have left the home-life, cut off desire, renounce love, and recognize the source of the mind. They penetrate the Buddha's profound principles, and awaken to the Unconditioned. They obtain nothing outside, and seek nothing inside." (Sutra in Forty-two Sections)
The literal meaning of Sangha is "harmoniously united assembly." There are two kinds of Sangha in Buddhism.
Bhikshu-sangha are men and women who have left the home-life and have received full ordination in which they take vows to strictly adhere to the moral code of 250 precepts for Bhikshus (monks) and 348 precepts for Bhiksuni (nuns). The heart of this moral code includes vows of poverty, celibacy, and harmlessness.
Sagely-sangha are all of the Arhats and Bodhisattvas.
"If there are those of little wisdom, deeply attached to love and desire, for their sakes I teach the truth of suffering. Living beings then rejoice gaining what they never had, for the Buddha's teaching of suffering truth is true, real, and not false. If there are living beings who do not know the origin of suffering, who are deeply attached to the cause of suffering, unable to leave it for even a moment, for their sakes I expediently speak of the Path. The cause of all suffering is rooted in desire, suffering has nothing to rest upon. The extinction of all suffering is called the third truth. For the sake of the truth of extinction one cultivates the Path; leaving all suffering's bonds is called the attainment of liberation." (Lotus Sutra)
Arhats are those who become enlightened by means of the Four Noble Truths of suffering, suffering's origin, suffering's extinction, and the path leading to suffering extinction. Their enlightenment is not ultimate, because they only enlighten themselves, and do not yet know how to enlighten other beings like the Bodhisattvas do.
"The Bodhisattva sets his will on the quest for Bodhi. He does not want the five desires nor a king's throne. He does not want wealth, success, amusement, of fame. He only wishes to end the sufferings of living beings forever." (Flower Adornment Sutra)
"Bodhi" means awakening of enlightenment and "sattva" means being. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened one among beings, and also, one who causes beings to become enlightened. He cultivates the six perfections of giving, morality, patience, vigor, concentration power and wisdom and the myriad practices of virtue for many lifetimes until he becomes a Buddha. The essence of the Bodhisattva's quest for enlightenment is a heart of great compassion for all living beings. this is illustrated by means of an analogy form the Flower Adornment Sutra:
"It is like a king of trees in a barren desert. If it's roots obtain water it's branches and leaves will flourish. In the desert of birth and death the king tree of Bodhi is the same way. All living beings are the roots of the tree, and all Buddhas are it's flowers and fruits.. If one uses the water of great compassion to benefit living beings, one will obtain the wisdom-fruit of all Buddhas."
One with faith takes refuge with the Triple Jewel in a formal ceremony under the guidance of a wise and virtuous member of the Bhikshu sangha.
"Faith is the source of the Path, the mother of merit and virtue. It nurtures the growth of all good qualities. It cuts through the net of delusion, and leaves the flow of love. It opens up the highest road to Nirvana." (Flower Adornment Sutra)