My Everlasting Faith: Buddha Dharma and Sangha
The word 'faith' carries different meanings for different religions. It can mean a religious 'belief' or having 'confidence' in a religion or its founder. Some people have faith in god and some in the Buddha while others may embrace modern spirituality.
We Buddhists believe in the Triple Gem. They are our everlasting refuge. The best choice one can make is of course to believe/decide on a religion that is appropriate for one's ultimate good.
The Buddhist teachings of the Middle Path, Dependent Origination, the principle of Cause and Effect, birth and death, and nirvana can help people resolve the basic questions of life. However, even for Buddhists, there are different levels of faith and confidence manifested. Some have stronger faith in deities rather than the Buddha. There are those who appear to believe in people rather than the Dharma; and again some would seem to be more temple and relationship minded instead of the teaching.
Everything will be changed in this world today itself or in the coming future, but our faith is everlasting. The Buddha's teachings are not by mere faith but also a realistic path to tread on. The Buddha's trodden path is one of holistic ethical development to spiritual perfection. Hence, we have the three-fold training of s─½la, sam─üdhi and pa├▒├▒─ü - Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom.
We, monastic members seek to purify ourselves beginning from vinaya, our training rules to develop concentration (sam─üdhi) and vipassan─ü, insight into things as they really are - yatha bh┼½tam dassana. In addition, we also learn Abhidhamma, the Buddhist analysis of mind or the higher dhamma to help us understand the ultimate truth. Truly understanding and directly perceiving the three characteristics - impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and essencelessness, (anatta), we will be released from our endless rebirth and redeath cycle (samsara).
We strive to be attentive to the Buddha's advice through listening and learning, contemplating and practicing the Dharma. These will ultimately help us to eradicate our inherent defilements - greed (lobha), anger (dosa) and ignorance (moha) of the universal truths. The four Noble Truths that the historical Buddha rediscovered.
Our everlasting faith - refuge in the Triple Gem can be likened to the similes as follows. Taking refuge in the Buddha is equivalent to lighting up our own minds and setting up an internal "power plant".
Taking refuge in the Dharma is just as saving the ambrosial water and generating our internal power whereas refuge in the Sangha is like nurturing the flower and fruit of enlightenment. When we take refuge in the Triple Gem we are cultivating our own orchard where the fruits are assured. So, we say in Pali - ehi passiko, come and experience for yourself the Buddha's ancient path.
When I feel afraid, nervous and burdened, I will recite the ti-sarana (refuge in the Triple Gem). I overcome mental and physical dis-ease by concentrating my mind and reciting the ti-sarana.
In reality, prajna or wisdom is our inner Buddha Nature, and the
main reason for us to learn Buddhism is to develop and actualize our
inner Buddha Nature. So in Buddhism, we should progress from praying and worshipping the Buddha to practicing his teachings and ultimately becoming the Buddha. It is only when we become a Buddha that we have reached the highest level of faith and the Buddhist path.
Edit by Ven. Zhen Man