Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels
Teachings on the Inner Preliminaries of Kalachakra
By Khentrul Rinpoché Jamphel Lodrö
In this three-part series, Rinpoché presents the outer, inner and secret objects of refuge which act as supports for a Dharma practitioner at different stages of the spiritual path.
The External Three Jewels
These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on April 02, 2015
So today’s subject, refuge practise. To be able to do the refuge also we need of course, preliminaries, that is why we know now, the four convictions. So you know everything is interdependence, dominate karma. Then you know, if we not transform more positive karma and just live like normal and then is like you don’t need to generate dusty. Always come the dirtiness. So basically we have to keep clean everything. Wash the dishes, and you know, clean the house and wash clothes every week. Everything needs be clean isn’t it. If you just leave them naturally, dirty, smell, everything.
So similarly, we have to know how to maintain this karmic conditions. So that’s why we learnt karma and then we learnt if we live naturally, then you generate disease you know. So similarly if we leave our karma, our actions just normal as human desire, if we live like that then only generate samsara and nothing else.
So then if samsara is ok or not, ok then we look at, then samsara is not ok because just suffering. So we don’t see other people’s suffering very well, but we see our own suffering, but we have habit to pretend not suffering and try to show off to other people have no suffering, that we do. We are not honest in our society, not honest really, but if we look at carefully, everyone suffers. Doesn’t matter whatever age, whatever position. You always suffer and just one example is just aging and death that alone is enough to see everything is just naturally suffering. We have tiny happiness if we generate very well. We can gain temporary happiness that’s all. That we have to make huge effort and sometimes never even reach our goal as much as even we made the effort. So that’s we know, so that’s why we call samsaric faults.
And then ok, and if is that way does that mean everything is hopeless? We can’t do anything and we only wait to die? And the next question say no. Actually, if we look different way, angle, different angle, we have precious human birth this time. Which means we can’t escape suffering, we can’t escape suffering in this life and this, what you call, with this body, we can’t really escape the suffering but, we can minimise the suffering in this body in this life, but more importantly we can like, generate more wisdom and compassion and other qualities. So we can start the enlightenment which means free from suffering and spontaneous beneficial, bodies or whatever you call, jhana’s, kaya’s, sorry, or whatever you call. That we can start because we had human birth.
So remember the human birth is not the finest birth in…is not like god and god they don’t have to work, or generate wealth, they already have wealth and they don’t need to generate wealth and don’t have to suffer and busy with wealth, but we are not like that position, but we have human intelligence. If we use properly, we can see what long future, basically. So that’s why, that means who is able to see this and who also experience suffering, is in some ways very good because we can…then we are fighting the suffering and we dislike the suffering and so we seeking the cause and conditions of suffering. So this intelligence can arise and so in that way is our suffering is not always unfortunate, in some ways can be fortune. So that’s why we can..but then we have always, how say, laziness, complacency, procrastination, we have those things.
So then we look at the impermanence and everything is impermanent and especially our time of the death is really, really unpredictable. So we could lose our precious human birth in a few days, months, anything. So if we generate that urgency in our mind so we become much more disciplined and non distracted. So we really can take the essence of the precious human birth. So in that case now, what really we practically we have to do in the refuge. We have to take refuge. Why? Because we right now we are under control of the karma, we are completely dominated by the karma. And so we want free from karma basically. So what our refuge is for is free from karma. That’s our refuge. And then we say, do we have our capacity, full capacity, do we have this capacity, our own. So then basically, no not really, definitely not. So then we say all we need is three jewels. So three jewels we call in Tibetan…(@15.38 uses Tib term) which means the most rare and sublime ones. These three most rare and sublime ones. So we need this. Or another translation called three jewels. Like jewels, much more than jewels. So these three we need.
So what is this three? This three is Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We say this then everybody, you know, like have a different interpretations of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, so we have to look at that today. What is really Buddha and what is really Dharma and what is really Sangha. So first, you have to know everything, this Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, has ultimate Buddha, ultimate Dharma, ultimate Sangha and we have temporary Buddha, temporary Dharma and temporary Sangha. You can say that or you can say absolute Buddha, absolute Dharma and absolute Sangha. Or you can say the interdependence Buddha, the interdependence Dharma and the interdependence Sangha ok. Think that, six ways ok.
So first we think about the Buddha ok. When we say Buddha, people usually think Buddha Shakyamuni who born in Lumbini in Nepal, at that time was India and thinking that. But that is a little bit too narrow so we don’t think that way. So we have to think when we say Buddha, we have to think the absolute nature Buddha and the independent arising Buddha ok. So when we say absolute nature Buddha, that means Tathagatagharba. So Tathagatagharba is Buddha nature, we say Buddha nature. Why we say Buddha nature? Because for us we posses this Buddha, absolute nature Buddha. Every single person we possess, but we cannot really experience yet, for this reason we just say nature Buddha. In Tibetan we call…(@ 18.19 uses Tib term). Which means the essence of Tathagatagharba.
So why say essence, because is not just essence, it is, it is Tathagatagharba. It is Tathagata. Tathagatagharba means still covered, the tathagata means not covered. (note from Transcriber – I’m pretty sure Rinpoche said Tathagata at those two points – check from 18.38) So when we say Buddha, and then Buddha means not covered, and when we say Buddha nature, which means covered. Or we can say hidden for us, you know like…which means really, really means our absolute nature is hidden for us right now. So, but other sentient beings, first other sentient beings, no longer hidden which means we call, they reach enlightenment. So when they reach enlightenment they no longer for them, no longer for them hidden. So this ones we call Buddha’s, we don’t call Tathagatagarbha. We don’t call Buddha nature’s, we call Buddha’s. So for us is Buddha nature. So you just have to know, some things you know like, covered and not covered. Absolute reality is the same but you make different names by the time and the sentient being. So for this reason, first we have to take refuge, to this absolute nature of Buddha. Which means, other words, Tathagatagarbha.
Which means how you take refuge, maybe you may think if hidden for us, you cannot experience, how you take refuge? The answer is, you take refuge means you learn and you have the Buddha nature. You learn and you study, you analyse, you contemplate and you familiarise. You familiarise that your belief, or understanding. That’s all you have to do, nothing else. So you can learn and read and learn more about, and basically you have to rise in your confidence. “I have Buddha nature” which means right now we just say “I have Buddha nature” we don’t say “I am a Buddha” we are not allowed to say “I am a Buddha” because doesn’t make sense for sentient beings, because you are sentient being which means in illusion state and you talking to illusory people. So if u say “I am Buddha” doesn’t make any sense. Also doesn’t make sense we all are Buddha, doesn’t make any sense. But the reality, we all Buddha and we all enlightened.
One way of think, we are. Why we are? Because this “we” we say “we” this, “we sentient being” is not ever exist anyway. So in that case “we”, “w”, “e”, that should call the Buddha nature and the absolute truth the absolute nature. So that is really we are. So you just have to remind yourself that constantly. And become familiar with this concept. So if you do that, you doing, you’re talking refuge with the Buddha. You taking refuge in the absolute nature of Buddha, not just the interdependent arising Buddha. Ok.
So and then, you have to take refuge in the independent arising Buddha. Which means we have not only have just Buddha nature and something we unveil, but also we have a potential to generate Buddha as well. So which means like ordinary person practise Dharma properly in life to lifetime, and then one day you become a Buddha. Which means like our historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, he didn’t appear as Buddha first and you know, and just he appear, a boy, and then he study and he married and everything that people do. And then one day suddenly he know, “this is ridiculous, doesn’t make any sense” so he do differently. And he achieve more than anybody achieving in that time, in that you know… so and then he knew many things not other people know. So that we call Dharma, so he taught.
So we all have that potential as well. So if we first we know that potential and then we generate that you know. We generate that, how to say, the qualities from this potential. And then that means we also take refuge, Buddha. How we generate? You have to think Buddha story and how Buddha did and so what Buddha said we should do. So we doing the same thing. So that means you refuge, taking refuge Buddha.
So if more specifically, what you have to do, you just have to believe the Buddha. And believe is sometimes maybe not the best word maybe. You just have to understand the Buddha is extraordinary, the historical Buddha I’m talking now. Not just only the historical Buddha, you can think the countless Buddha’s or if you know ten Buddha’s story, Amitabha and such and such and so on. So if you know or you can learn and then so, if that’s too much, you just have to know the historical Buddha, Buddha Shakyamuni and contemplate why you trust Buddha. Is worth to trust? Is his knowledge profound? You know like up to 3,000 years ago, taught things still completely valid and even people… not enough for knowing and understanding his Dharma. For this reason Buddha’s definitely trust worthy and his compassion is only for interest in all sentient beings. So for this reason there is no reason to lie or fraudulent anything, impossible. So have to these things, you have to analyse and understand and trust or believe Buddha. That is you taking refuge, you know. How strong your refuge to the Buddha means how strong you trust the Buddha and respect Buddha, how profound you respect. So that’s all, really you need, you have to believe you, have to trust and have to respect and how big the degree of respect and trust and belief, that’s all. That’s your refuge to Buddha. The first one you know the absolute nature Buddha, you just have to trust yourself, have that position, you know you have this nature. On the top of this you can generate this interdependent Buddha, exactly what Buddha Shakyamuni did. So that is thinking that mean you refuge.
But also you have to have some kind of dislike the samsara and you have to have fighting in the samsara again. That’s also causes of refuge, condition of refuge. Because sentient beings very very strange, because we are very fragile and very coward (? 30.06). You know you cannot bare a little suffering, you know like a little physical suffering. Especially people who fortune enough to have comfortable life, physically comfortable life. For them is much more coward to have a tiny little physical suffering, very coward. At the same time we looks like very brave, very coward, but same time looks like brave. Looks like brave means you don’t really consider properly old aging and the death, impermanent death, you know. I’m sure very old people, they consider much more death but the young people never thinking death. That means one way is foolish, inconsiderate/in consider (? 31.26), how you say, no mindfulness, no wisdom, you know, it coward. If you have really fighting in the death, some may think this is coward but actually not really coward, you know. Is kind of like, wise and considered and how you say, mindful and understanding the reality. But we don’t have this you know often, most of time “oh well, we have to die anyway” and we seems like not scared. Seems like we are very brave but actually really not. Why? Because we not really understanding we not really preparing. You know we not really, how you say, we not really understanding our position the samsara, completely dominate by karma, have no direction.
For this reason if you have sense of, if you can generate a little bit of the fighting of the death, fighting the samsara, don’t like the samsara, then that means you have really good refuge. You have a good refuge. When I say you don’t like, you sad and you…which means the whole range of samsara. Not just sufferings, the obvious sufferings. Obvious suffering nobody like, of course, that nothing to do with the refuge sense. This is just…nobody like suffering, obvious suffering. Suffering of pain, and animal, insect, anybody knows don’t like. And anybody have reaction of that. That is nothing special. But if you have the range/rage(? 34.03) of samsara, the idea of samsara, the reality of samsara, you know. And how essenceless the samsara. If you see this little bit, even if not huge, but compared in the past, if is huge, that means doing well. That means working well. So that is a very important condition of refuge.
So, two things. The fighting, the dislike, the discontent, and you have this belief, our nature Buddha, Buddha nature and the interdependent arising Buddha you can achieve both, ok. So they both come together, you don’t have to work them separate ok. They come together anyway. So that is taking refuge Buddha, ok. If boil down you just believe you just trust that’s it. How you take refuge the Buddha? With trust. That’s it. Generate more trust, generate more belief, generate understanding that’s it. It’s very simple.
Next, how to take refuge the Dharma. How to participate with Dharma. Engage with Dharma. Which means hearing, reading, studying, contemplating, meditating. That’s it. Remembering the action, formal practise, informal practise. Formal practise, casual practise. Always try to be mindful vigilant, conscientious. So what I have to do? What should be the result? Tame you mind. Soften you mind, more flexibility your mind. Strengthen your mind, sharpen your mind, refining you mind, that’s it. By what? By…you know I said hearing, reading, study, contemplate, thinking, meditating, that’s it. So basically familiarisation, familiarisation. And acting. Ok?
Then maybe you think what is Dharma really. Again, the absolute nature Dharma and the interdependent arising Dharma. What is absolute nature Dharma? Absolute nature Dharma means absolute truth. Your sacred truth, that is the absolute Dharma. In other language we say Buddha nature, that’s also absolute Dharma just different way of saying. But better to say absolute truth. Absolute truth or your sacred truth, that is more precise way of saying. You say Buddha nature, Tathagatagarbha, all you say is ok, is correct but more precisely you have to say absolute truth, absolute reality. The most sacred truth, the most sacred reality. That is Dharma. Because remember Dharma means phenomena, Dharma means phenomena. So in this context Dharma means the holy Dharma, the sacred Dharma, the sublime Dharma. So that means of course the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality, the absolute reality, the most sacred reality. That is Dharma.
And then independent arising Dharma. So before I say two things remember, Dharma, I told this to you many many times. All over the world I met the Sangha’s and I say what is Dharma? Always people have missing, how you say, misunderstanding, missing understanding, not completely misunderstand but missing, so Dharma means…(@ 40.18 uses Tib term). Two things. You know, these…all Dharma teachings, and the attainments from the teachings. Ok. Attainments. Some people say realisation, but attainment is more correct. You have realisation, then you have to be familiar then you consolidate and then that means maybe attainments. So the attainments and teachings, teachings for attainments. That is Dharma. How you generate that Dharma? How you generate that Dharma? Through study and practice…(@ 41.26 uses Tib term) S… means talk, which means study D…. means generate your own and then you will get the attainments. So that is Dharma. So this Dharma we talking about, the interdependent arising Dharma ok, you can arise, you can generate. So you can generate Buddha, you know Buddha, interdependent arising Buddha , which means sentient beings can see like Buddha Shakyamuni. Absolute Buddha nobody see. No sentient being ever seen any, not even 10th level Bodhisattva’s still not see. They only see sambhogakaya.
So Sangha, what Sangha means? Again, absolute Sangha and interdependent arsing Sangha. But before that you have to know what really means Sangha. Sangha in Tib we call…(@ 42.54 uses Tib term). G… means virtues, D… means aspiration or determination Ok? If there is group, party, determinate by virtues, Dharma, that means Sangha. That doesn’t have to be groups always. Lower Sangha has to be group the higher Sangha doesn’t have to be group. When you achieve Buddhahood, you are the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, all of you. You are all of them. Ok? Why? Because all these definitions you are.
First Buddha’s definition is three bodies. You know we have one body right. Buddha have three body, dharmakaya body, sambhogakaya body, nirmanakaya body. So who has, possess three bodies, that means Buddha. Because dharmakaya is ever, never change, always there. But one sentient being, he or she, you know like discovered that, unveiled your nature, that means we call dharmakaya. Before that we call Buddha nature remember. And sambhogakaya, from that reflection, from like mirror, but too high so sentient beings cannot experience. Too refined, so who can experience? Only 10th level, 10th Bhumi level Bodhisattva’s can experience. And then nirmanakaya like Buddha Shakyamuni, some sentient beings can experience, not everybody. Even the … (? 45.25) they experience like human being, they don’t experience completely different. So who ever possess these three bodies that means Buddha. Buddha’s definition is three bodies. Ok?
Dharma’s definition we say Dharmadhatu . Ever changing nature, ever changing reality, that really means Dharma. So why ever changing? Because the absolute truth. If absolute truth, how can you change? If can change then we say not true yah? From student “never changing”. Never changing ok. So ever changing ok. Student “ever changing means constantly changing” Oh ok (laughs). Never changing ok. So if we say today we say something tomorrow change mind, that is not absolute truth so similarly. But if the opposite, never changing, that means absolute truth. So that is Dharma
Sangha means, Sangha means I said before, determined by virtues, aspiration, determine by virtues, determine by Dharma. That is Sangha. So Buddha have this three. All of them quality that’s why is Buddha is Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, is everything. Whenever we reach Buddhahood we are the Buddha Dharma, Sangha everything. But who ever not reach it, they are separate. Ok?
So who is high Sangha? Who is real Sangha? From where you call real Sangha? People who see directly, who understand directly, have realisation, everything is independent arise, everything is selflessness, everything is not truly exist as sentient beings see, as sentient beings experience. Whenever you have that realisation, you are, become true Sangha. That’s we call Arya being. When do that? First Bhumi level, before that you have to complete accumulation path and preparation path. And then that time you see everything differently, not what we see. Because for us everything is what we see the five senses and our concept, what we believe, this is the reality, we can’t see anything else. We just talk about and try to learn, but just far away. “Oh yes, but oh yes but…but…but…normal but” and then you become Arya being. So that means you become Arya being, no more “but”. That which means still function in our world, Yes. No problem you can function. Why? Because you function for others. You know function for others because you know like we have to function for children. You know children, many things children don’t understand, you just do for them. Similar but for your own, everything differently. So that time we are Arya being, that time is real Sangha. So in this stage what we have to do? We have to inspired by this Sangha’s, have to be inspired by Sangha’s who good practitioners, our lineage holders and others, up to the Buddha, Bodhisattvas’ any stories we can learn and hear. As much as any stories we can read, we can generate your respect and aspiration. And inspiration, everything.
That means we determining by Dharma, determining by virtues. Virtuous thoughts, virtuous attitude, virtuous action, virtuous speech, everything. That is how you practice Sangha, how you take refuge from Sangha. Ok Sangha means two things. First think of determined by virtues. The mind is virtuous, virtuous mind, that Sangha or you can say virtuous mind, you can say always aspiration of virtues, aspiration of Dharma, you can say that. And then we are lower Sangha, I said you have to have group. If there’s no group we don’t call Sangha. If you are Arya being, you are one person even first Bhumi level, you are the Sangha. But until the Arya being, we have to be group. There is group who determine by same virtues and everybody have ethics, everyone have hold ethics, hold the determine, for Dharma and generate right view and we reduce the wrong views, these people is Sangha.
This Sangha have to be two qualities. One, determine by virtues, before I said. The other quality, never parting, never parting. We say…(@ 53.03 uses Tib term). M…means no part, no parting. So which means never parting friendship, never parting, never parting relationship. So why parting? Why you need part? If you need part, means you are no longer Sangha. You are no longer Sangha, if everybody determine by virtues, why you need part? You don’t need to part. So if somebody need part, that means you are no longer determined by virtues. Otherwise you don’t need part. Why part? If fight each other, don’t like each other, that means not virtuous, no longer virtuous anyway. If is no longer virtuous, of course you part!
Basically Sangha, lower Sangha means group power. What is group power does do? Give you support to the right direction. That is meant to be doing. That is meant to be. So you should have support, caring, loving, same determination. So other worldly relationships, of course they sometimes together sometimes parting, of course. Why? Because they not practicing the virtues. They negotiating, negotiating “oh what I want, what you want, ok we just negotiating”. Like negotiating partner, like business partner similar, kind of similar really. So Sangha should not have negotiating group. Should be determine. Same determine, same direction. If same direction you don’t need to negotiate. And also you focus on virtue which means always should be developing, always improving, so then again, should not be parting. Or fighting, you know. If does that means not real Sangha. So that what power group do, what power group do. Group power do. Take you right direction. Whatever you need support and then support. Unless non-virtuous support you need, then of course not because we are not designed for that. But anything, your spiritual, virtuous, any condition you need support, then should have support. If not, that means not Sangha.
- July 17, 2016
Raw transcripts created by Vanessa Mason