Dawn of Dharma Essentials, Part 1: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Buddha Dharma and Sangha in Buddhism are known as the Three Jewels. In this teaching from a special Dharma-stream essential teaching series for Dawn of Dharma students, Phakchok Rinpoche explains the significance of each—Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Buddha means enlightenment and complete freedom. Freedom from what? Suffering and the cause of suffering. Freedom from anger, ego-clinging, and dualistic fixation. The term buddha, or “awakened one” was the title given to a historical figure over 2500 years ago. Phakchok Rinpoche briefly highlights some of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life story as told in the Buddhist scriptures such as the Lalitvistara. Those who follow the Buddha understand him to be the supreme guide, full of blessings and compassion.
Buddha Dharma and Sangha: What is Dharma?
After his complete release of attachment, the Buddha gained the realization of emptiness and was freed from suffering. The Buddha began to teach the instructions to others. The path that leads others to complete abandonment of suffering is known as the Dharma. As Rinpoche explains, the Buddha compassionately offered these teachings for over forty years to men and women from all walks of life. Dharma is a path or a journey that we can follow in order to transform. The Dharma is as relevant today as it was in the time of the Buddha. It offers us answers to modern issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, and lack of meaning.
And the Dharma in its essence is quite simple. The Buddha taught us not to create harm to ourselves or any other beings. Don’t create any unpleasantness through your body, speech, or mind. Moreover, he taught us that we should benefit others as much as possible. And finally, he taught that we must transform, or tame our own minds. We transform from anger and pride to compassion. We tame our pride and learn dignity. We see how we can slowly improve ourselves.
Students may also wish to explore the definition of Dharma given in this audio teaching by Tulku Migmar Tsering.
Buddha Dharma and Sangha: Who Belongs to the Sangha?
The sangha, or community of followers has many divisions. The sangha includes fully ordained monks and nuns as well as novice monks and nuns. These are the professional sangha who have completely renounced their mundane lives, and because of this pure intention, we see them as examples.
In addition, from the very beginning, the general sangha included householder practitioners who were seriously interested in following the path of Dharma. As Rinpoche explains, the sangha works together as a team or family to help each other in practice. The most important qualification is a wish to transform yourself. The lay sangha welcomes people regardless of background, race, sex, family situation, previous wrong deeds, etc. Within the community of the sangha, all are able to work slowly with the teachings, to transform step-by-step in meaningful ways.