Today, after reading the following simile regarding the Triple Gem, I spent some time reflecting on this:
The Buddha's appearance in the world is like the sun rising over the horizon. His teaching of the true Dhamma is like the net of the sun's rays spreading out over the earth, dispelling the darkness and cold of the night, giving warmth and light to all beings. The Sangha is like the beings for whom the darkness of night has been dispelled, who go about their affairs enjoying the warmth and radiance of the sun.
On reflecting, these thoughts arose in me:
1 ~ The Triple Gem, to the best of my knowledge, is always singular; it is not referred to as the Triple Gems. So, refuge in the “Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha” is a single refuge, a single safe shelter from dukkha, rather than three separate refuges. After all, wouldn't three separate refuges just confuse us? We would be running from one to the other!
2 ~ IMHO, the 'refuge' (Triple Gem) is supposed to be supreme, faultless, and complete shelter (or protection) from dukkha. If we include, in the Triple Gem, general members of a Sangha (say, monks and/or laity who assist us in some way) then we risk “contaminating” the purity of the “Sangha-component” of the Triple Gem, because we cannot be certain that these peoples' purity, compassion, and wisdom are faultless. The question arose: Are we confident of associating them (whoever we include in the Sangha) with the “Triple Gem”? If we have some skeptical doubt about this, then such doubt will naturally be a hindrance to our practice.
3 ~ On reading the simile (quoted above), I see, in the Triple Gem, the complete Path to liberation. “A peerless Teacher, teaching a sublime Dhamma, resulting in Arahants”:
- Sun ~ Buddha
Sun's rays ~ Buddha's Dhamma
Beings for whom darkness of the night has been dispelled (or Arahants) ~ Sangha
I make this post with the aim of listening to others more knowledgeable than me and considering their inputs to assist me in dispelling my own skeptical doubts. I mean no disrespect to the Triple Gem in particular, and, I am in no way trying to find faults with others' views or any suttas or commentaries. I'm still a beginner, with just a little more than two years' exposure to Buddhism. So, I could be way off the mark......
If any members wish to kindly share what the three components of the “Triple Gem” means to them (in their own practice – not what the suttas or teacher say), I will equally appreciate this.
Thanks & Metta to All.