How do we take refuge in the Three Jewels?

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2018-01-23 10:57:40
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To attain Buddhahood, one has to be perfect in all virtues and merits. Then how do we accumulate all these virtues? By serving living beings tirelessly. Sentient beings are countless and there is no end to the delivering of beings. Yet if one spares no effort to deliver all beings with a Bodhi mind, he will attain Buddhahood.

Q: Master, as an old saying goes, a kind soul is subjected to others’ bullying. Then, why should we be kind?

A: This saying is not right; it just reflects people’s concerns. Conflicts between people arise from karma and afflictions. However, most people are not aware of it. When one is disadvantaged in a conflict, he or she may feel they are being treated unfairly and think the trouble is caused by his or her kindness, which is a misunderstanding of the law of cause and effect. Being kind creates good karma and being evil creates evil karma; and there is no exception. Ignorant of this law, one tends to believe that saying true.


Q: Master, how do we take refuge in the Three Jewels?

A: You can attend a refuge ceremony at any monastery over which monks preside. Having attended the ceremony means you have taken refuge in the Three Jewels. It’s like your signing up in a contract. The moment two parties have signed up, the contract takes effect and a partnership is established. From that moment on both parties have to fulfill respective duties and commitments. To sign in a contract is easy, yet the key process of preparation beforehand is by no means easy -- prudent inspection and careful consideration are required as to why you choose this person (or this company) as a partner, what is the cooperation about, and what are the commitment and duties. Once you’ve determined to establish this partnership and signed up, you have to fulfill your commitment before you gain benefits. The Three Jewels have a history of over 2000 years in this world, reputable like a long-established store; countless people have gained benefit from it – they break free from the cycle of life and death, become enlightened, or have remarkable achievements in spiritual pursuit. If you want to get these benefits, the only way is to put Buddhist teachings into practice and think, speak and behave in accordance with the doctrines. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels means you have chosen them as a guide in your life. If you’ve fully prepared for it, you can attend the ceremony.


Q: Master, why is delivering all sentient beings from suffering a prerequisite of attaining Buddhahood? What is the principle behind it? Since beginningless time there have emerged countless Buddhas, whose sole mission is to deliver sentient beings. Then why is that there are still countless beings left unenlightened? What is the difference between Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in terms of the way to deliver beings? 

A: Let's take doing business for example. The more customers, the more products or services, the more money a businessman earns; he provides the best products and service to others, in turn, all this earns him great achievement. To attain Buddhahood, one has to be perfect in all virtues and merits. Then how do we accumulate all these virtues? By serving living beings tirelessly. Sentient beings are countless and there is no end to the delivering of beings. Yet if one spares no effort to deliver all beings with a Bodhi mind, he will attain Buddhahood. Acts of kindness done by Bodhisattvas lead them down to Buddhahood; both Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are delivering sentient beings from suffering, yet they differ in capability. 


Q: Master, I would become passive and lose heart when situations turn difficult. Am I short of ability? Or are the circumstances reminding me to stop? Such thoughts, I know, is not right, yet I just lack self-confidence in doing things. What mentality should I develop? 

A: It is in setbacks and unfavorable circumstances that one's ability is developed. Don't set limitations to your potential. Do not say to yourself "I can't make it"; instead, say "Can I step forward further? Let me take another go!" Think about this: How does a baby learn to walk? He keeps falling yet getting on his feet again and again. He never worries, never dreads failure or loses heart; his only concern is about how to walk well. 

Editor:Bella Liu
Tags:conflicts, take refuge, delivering all sentient beings

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