It is said that when Buddha set out on his spiritual journey, he sat under the Boddhi Tree in deep meditation for three days and three nights. When he emerged, he shared the wisdom that arose from within: There is suffering. There is a way out of suffering. His monks went forth spreading his message:
Buddham sharanam gachami
Dhamam sharanam gachami
Sangham sharanam gachami
Buddham sharanam gachami – I come under the protection of Buddha.
In order to keep our spiritual practice thriving, we have to believe in something higher. The word “Buddha” can be replaced with God, Divine Mother, the Great Unknown. The name and form doesn’t matter as long as we acknowledge something higher that we can bow to. Without this, we carry such a heavy load on our shoulders. We feel heavy and we keep carrying that heaviness around. What a relief we feel when we put our head to the earth and bow. Any load we are carrying just rolls off and our heart-mind can experience that inner surrender and release.
Dhamam sharanam gachami – I come under the protection of Dharma.
The root of the word “dharma” is “dha/dharan” – to wear. In our lives, we wear so many different hats – we can be a husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, friend, teacher, student, priest, attorney, dentist, doctor, etc. With each of the roles we play, there is a particular responsibility or “dharma” that attaches to it. Knowing what is my dharma in any given situation saves us from all kinds of confusion or trouble.
The most important dharma of all, one that we all share, is to be a good human being. Living in a way that you find a place in another’s heart. If our actions, thoughts, and words always come from this place, we can avoid spreading negativity and creating conflict and truly be a good human being.
Sangham, sharanam, gachami. I come under the protection of Sangha
Sangha is the company of higher minded people in whose presence we feel inspired. When we get stuck, it is this good company that can help us move forward. We should always strive to have a few friends with whom we experience a deeper connection beyond superficial conversations. People that remind us of something beyond our everyday struggles. Words are not even necessary – by just being in the company of higher minded people we can experience healing and can learn a better way to live.
While in our human existence, we will experience suffering. There is a way out of that suffering.