Why three gems?

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Why three gems?

Postby dylanpieper » Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:34 am

Why three gems?

'I am old now, Ānanda, & aged. My years have turned eighty. Just as an old cart is kept going with the help of bamboo strips, it seems to me as if the Tathāgata's body is kept going with the help of bamboo strips. The only time the Tathāgata's body feels at ease is when, not attending to any theme at all, and with the cessation of certain feelings, he enters & remains in the theme-less concentration of awareness. Therefore each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. Remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. And how does a monk remain with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? How does he remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is how a monk remains with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge. For those who — now or after I am gone — remain with their self as an island... the Dhamma as their refuge, without anything else as a refuge, they will be the highest of the monks who desire training.'

— DN 16
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Re: Why three gems?

Postby culaavuso » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:37 am

dylanpieper wrote:Why three gems?


The Buddha (re)discovered the path and taught it for the benefit of many. The Dhamma is the teaching. The Sangha is the community that keeps the teaching alive and in practice in the world.

For a more detailed explanation, it might be helpful to read Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The refuges in Buddhism — both on the internal and on the external levels — are the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, also known as the Triple Gem. They are called gems both because they are valuable and because, in ancient times, gems were believed to have protective powers. The Triple Gem outdoes other gems in this respect because its protective powers can be put to the test and can lead further than those of any physical gem, all the way to absolute freedom from the uncertainties of the realm of aging, illness, and death.
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Re: Why three gems?

Postby andyebarnes67 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:54 pm

dylanpieper wrote:Why three gems?

Therefore each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. Remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge.

— DN 16


Thank-you for posting this Dylan. I don't have an answer for you but I'm so pleased you asked the question as it has given me much food for thought myself. I could jump to conclusions around the evolution of the Sangha and the various practices, but as I say, i would be jumping to conclusion without references to support any statement, so I will leave this to someone else.
You have given me much to ponder here. i have been away from the forum for a few weeks and it is posts such as this that has reminded me why i enjoy my visits. :namaste:
Metta

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Re: Why three gems?

Postby Ananda26 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:40 pm

dylanpieper wrote:Why three gems?

'I am old now, Ānanda, & aged. My years have turned eighty. Just as an old cart is kept going with the help of bamboo strips, it seems to me as if the Tathāgata's body is kept going with the help of bamboo strips. The only time the Tathāgata's body feels at ease is when, not attending to any theme at all, and with the cessation of certain feelings, he enters & remains in the theme-less concentration of awareness. Therefore each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. Remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. And how does a monk remain with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? How does he remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is how a monk remains with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge. For those who — now or after I am gone — remain with their self as an island... the Dhamma as their refuge, without anything else as a refuge, they will be the highest of the monks who desire training.'

— DN 16


People like to refer to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha as the Triple Gems.
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