The Triple Treasure is Always Available
Visiting a Zen Temple involves interaction with the Triple Treasures of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or Teacher, Teaching, and Community. Community helps us maintain our intentions, helps provide a loving mirror to our actions, and helps us recognize our own buddha nature. However, at times in our lives we cannot maintain involvement with a formal Sangha, and we need to find ways of supporting our own practice. How do we do that? Explore the ways this Triple Gem can be reflected in your own situation and cultivate practices to support your intentions and goals.
We tend to say at Dharma Rain that the koan arises in our personal daily life. What is the nub of your spiritual dilemma? Seeking the Triple Gem in our daily life can be that very conundrum. How do I practice this alone? How do I find the teaching that I need? How can someone teach me?
The Buddha, or teacher, can be found in myriad ways. We say at Dharma Rain, “The teacher arises when the student arises.” Any encounter with another person has the capability of teaching you. Can your inner student hear? When we are open to it, our daily lives can be filled with aha moments. A danger in solo practice is that we each have our own blind spots preventing us from appreciating these enlightening experiences. When a teacher appears to point those blind spots out, we often respond with resistance. If you wish to make a commitment to the Buddha in your life, make a commitment to be open to, and learn from, the teachers appearing in your daily life.
The Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha, and also all that teaches you, including the formal practices of meditation and chanting. Solo practice can include studying sutras and dharma books, chanting or reciting short services, meditation, mindfulness, maintaining sacred space, rituals personal to you, and acts of generosity. How do these give form to your practice? What works in your situation? A practice at home might look very different from practice shared in the temple, or it could reflect that of the temple according to your wishes. Altars, sacred space for meditation and service, and other reminders of spiritual practice help us carry forward our commitment from this moment to the next. Your altar and practice space is a reflection of yourself and your aspiration. You can bring all of yourself to it, fostering centeredness and inspiration. Having an altar and sacred space for practice allows you a time and space to pause and reflect, pause and set intention, pause and meet your own Buddha before you meet the rest of the world. When going about your day, seek out reminders of your spiritual practice. Bring mindfulness to your chores and small tasks as an opportunity to carry the spiritual qualities of focus and calm throughout your day. Little things like a Buddha pendant hanging from your rear view mirror, or a photo of your altar as wallpaper on your phone can bring the meditative compassionate mind back to your busy errand-filled mind.
Who are your Sangha, at home? Your family, your pets, even your flora and geography all make up your practice community. How might you be a teacher and provide teaching to someone else? Does your behavior with others reflect your Buddha and Dharma? Working with the precepts in your daily life can provide a powerful way to illuminate and refine your relationships and engagement in the world. Awareness of how you take care of your community and surroundings and how they take care of you informs and deepens your practice with Sangha. To do honor to your own spiritual practice and that of others, it helps to remember the First Noble Truth: Life is marked by suffering. We are all suffering in our own ways, and the more we are, the harder it is to see outside of that. With generosity and compassion, we can see that suffering, recognize that hurt, and try to make each moment a little better for ourselves and for others. We’re all in the same boat.