Part Ten - Taking Refuge
In the days before Dogen died, too weak to really chant any more, he took to walking round and round a temple pillar. He’d written on the pillar only three words – Buddha – Dharma – Sangha. He said:-
“In the beginning, in the middle, and in the end, in your life, as you approach death, always, through all births and deaths, always take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”11
This central response of Going for Refuge, to take the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings) and Sangha (his noble disciples and followers) to your heart, arises directly out of sraddha. At its most highly developed sraddha is in a balanced, fully integrated relationship with all the other faculties of wisdom, energy, concentration and mindfulness. This enables anyone to effectively practice ‘Binding one’s Self without a rope’, whatever way you might chose to interpret or evaluate it. In the end we practice how to make our practice effective, as we practice.
Daily we awake, arise and get dressed, have our breakfast and set out into the world. The elements that constitute our day, are also the elements that constitute our practice. Through our daily routine of quite simple, almost insignificant, actions, something altogether more profound can be made present, as long as we remain attentive and aware. Each day on the path of purification, we should be very much like that intrepid tight-rope walker mentioned earlier - alert and balanced. Determined to remain so, whilst we energetically step forward out across the threshold. Our confidence may flicker, but will not be extinguished, though we are bound for a conclusion we can barely sense yet, enshrouded, as it is, in a dense blizzard of spray and clouds of unknowing.
Part Ten - References
11 – Taken from – What is the dharma ? – By Sangharakshita.
Published by Windhorse Publications 1998.