by Venerable Mahinda
We can find a safe refuge in the Triple Gem. If we truly go for refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, all our fear, worries and anxieties will be dispelled. However, the way we usually take refuge – by reciting “Buddham saranam gacchami…” for example – is just a formality. We really need to get to the essence.
When we go for refuge in the Triple Gem correctly, and do it again and again, our faith and devotion will grow. Faith, or confidence, is one of the Five Mental Faculties which will strengthen our minds. Faith (SADDHA) will condition Energy (VIRIYA) to arise, followed by Mindfulness (SATI), Concentration (SAMADHI), and Wisdom (PAÑÑA).
We often pray to be free from suffering, fear and danger, but it takes more than just prayers to actually become free from suffering. We need to equip ourselves with the wisdom to confront and overcome whatever challenges we face.
That is why our faith and commitment to the Triple Gem is so important. It is the foundation for wisdom to grow: the wisdom that will eventually release us from all suffering.
On the Full Moon of Vesak more than 2,500 years ago, the Buddha attained Enlightenment, the complete liberation from all the suffering of life. He taught this path to others and by following this path (the Dhamma), many have attained liberation for themselves (the Noble Sangha). This is the significance of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha – expressing our commitment to follow the path taught by the Buddha, to free ourselves from all suffering, and to be of service to others.
In order to get to the essence of taking refuge, we need to reaffirm it again and again, especially when our minds are calm and clear. When our mind is calm, we will be more connected with our heart and able to cultivate a deeper and more sincere sense of refuge. In times of need, danger or calamities, we will be able to resort to this refuge to give us the strength and presence of mind so that we will not be confused or panicked and will know what needs to be done according to the situation.
It is not always easy to cultivate a deeper refuge on your own – we need the support of others. When we mingle with those with greater faith and stronger Dhamma practice, we gain confidence, inspiration and encouragement. That is what forming Metta Circles* is about – developing spiritual bonds and communal support for each other to grow in Dhamma.
Communal support is also necessary to extend our care to different members of society, particularly our elders, youth and disadvantaged communities. In particular, we need to guide the younger ones to grow in the Dhamma’s way, and to develop the qualities and skills to care for the aging, the sick, and less fortunate members of society.
We also need to extend our love and care to the entire world. When we come together to generate compassionate love, the power of our collective thought can influence the peace, harmony and stability of this world by bringing about a positive shift in human consciousness.
I urge you all to join us on 5 July 2014, at 9:45pm (in your time zone) in global metta meditation which will continue round the world, around the clock, culminating in Sri Lanka, where more than one million people are expected to participate at the sacred site of Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura, as a post-Metta Convention event.
In conjunction with Vesak, the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia has organised a Dhammaduta Exhibition themed Living the Dhamma at its Samadhi Vihara, Shah Alam. It started on 27 April 2014 and will end only on 25 May 2014.
This Exhibition to showcase Dhammaduta through Service, Purity and Wisdom as inspired and led by example by our late teacher and BMSM founder Ven K Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Maha Thera has an interesting concept that provides opportunity for experiential learning of Dhammaduta and its relevance in contemporary times. Please try to visit this Exhibition for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Dhamma as the best thing in life.
It is timely for such an Exhibition as Vesak is a time to recall the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, to renew our refuge and deepen our faith and confidence. But do not stop after Vesak Day. This Vesak, make the commitment to sincerely go for refuge more and more, every day, every hour, every minute, until it becomes part and parcel of your life.
Vesak is also an occasion for us to extend our good wishes and goodwill to all – irrespective of caste, colour or creed. The sufferings which we have gone through in our lives, as well as the various manifestations of suffering in the world today, are the result of ignorance (which conditions the grasping of desires and aversion to arise). Reflecting in this manner, let us all aspire to put an end to the tendencies of ignorance by walking the path to Enlightenment – not only for our own benefit, but also to be of greater service to all beings.
Such wholesome and positive thoughts generate much merit, which we offer to all the Buddhas – of the past, present and future – and then share these merits with all sentient beings. May all beings be well and happy!
SUKHO BUDDHĀNAM UPPĀDO – Happy is the birth of all Buddhas