The Three Jewels
*As dusk showed its countenance over the horizon, she found a nature sanctuary under a nearby Bo tree, reminiscent of the Bodh gaya long ago. Sitting in lotus position under the crevices of light left from under the canopy of the swaying leaves, she reaches into her satchel and takes out another worn scroll as wonderful memories filled her consciousness.*
"Master, why do we say the 3 jewels in the morn and in the eve?"
The master gestured in front of him and I sat in lotus position, facing him. He smiled broadly.
"Young one, do you understand what they mean? Recite them for me, as you do every morn and eve."
A perplexed look came over my features:as rote, I recited them clearly.
"Buddham saranam gacchami. I go for refuge to the Buddha.
Dhammam saranam gacchami. I go for refuge to the Dharma.
Sangham saranam gacchami. I go for refuge to the Sangha."
I rubbed my forehead, brushing a bit of hair which had fallen onto it.
"As monks, why do we seek refuge? Isn't our purpose to help those who ask? Refuge would take us away from that, wouldn't it, master?"
The master threw back his head and chuckled throatily.
"No, young one. Your initial understanding and recitative of the 3 jewels is correct. But you cling too much to words, words which have a different meaning. Look past the words to what they mean."
I looked back, inclining my head inquisitively as he continued.
"Going for refuge means submitting to a higher authority. We rely and return to these 3 jewels always, with each breath. They are our cornerstone, our foundation.."
The master stood up suddenly, my eyes following him as he reverently recited the same words I did earlier.
"Buddham saranam gacchami." He bowed, gathering his robes close. "In this, I am returning and relying on the awakened mind.
Dhammam saranam gacchami." He bowed once again.
"In this, I am returning and relying on the right views and understanding, the ones we purport to follow and have vowed to do so since our induction as well as the wisdom attained and passed down in the sutras, as limitless as the sea.
Sangham saranam gacchami." He bowed a third time.
"In this, I am returning and relying on the great harmonious assembly, those who have come before, those currently seeking, and those who are about to embark on this journey towards enlightenment."
The master sat down once more in front of me as I nodded my understanding of his explanation. He then gestured behind me.
"Go now. Free those who wish and are truly committed to be free from the shackles of this life. Be strengthened by the refuge you shall always seek, for that shall be your foundation and you should always have it as your purpose, until the attainment of your true enlightenment."
*She stands, holding the scroll close as she recites the 3 Jewels, then rolls the scroll carefully, returning it to her satchel, and leans against the Bo tree to rest for the night.*