Posts Tagged ‘The Three Treasures’

The Three Treasures in Buddhism will help us determine what we fear and what we can do to focus on something other than our fears: Renounce all evil; practice all good; save the many beings. If we focus our attention on these Three Treasures how can there be room in our heads for fear? We can live a life of peace, compassion, and love and when we do the unsuspecting result will be a decrease in our level of fear. This in turn will decrease our reaction to strike out with angry hurt-filled words and/or actions. And someday, hopefully, contribute to ending war as we know it.

Peace Pilgrim described this result when she wrote:

There is no greater block to world peace or inner peace than fear. It has led us to manufacture implements of mass destruction. What we fear we tend to develop an unreasonable hatred for—so we come to hate and fear. This not only injures us psychologically and aggravates world tensions, but through such negative concentration we tend to attract the things which we fear. If we fear nothing and radiate love, we can expect good things to come. How much this world needs the message and the example of love and faith (page 101).[1]

Why do you think that your parents from the time you were a small child suggested that you count to three before saying or doing something that you may regret. Why do you think I use the wonderful Three Breath Exercise from Jan Chozen Bays’ book How to Train a Wild Elephant with all of my classes—to give them various techniques for calming their minds and eliminating their fears.

Many in this country live under the assumption that this is a “Christian” country and thus we should live by the Christian rules and regulations. Yet they fear everyone and everything and spend time spreading a doctrine of war, greed, fear, and hatred of other people with other religions in our country and around the world. They clamor to get us into wars to fight for the oil riches in the Middle East, the minerals in Africa, to carry guns everywhere even in Church, to “stand your ground” and kill anyone who looks like they “may” hurt them. They want to have power over people of other faiths and belief systems by denying them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and healthcare right here in America.

All this is being done in the name of Jesus while forgetting that Jesus was a pacifist. He told his disciple Peter in Gethsemane to put down his sword after he had cut off the ear of the soldier. He taught his followers to turn the other cheek, to love thy neighbor as thyself, he rescued the adulteress from the men trying to stone her, and more. He even rode into town on a donkey to show his followers that he had no fear of the Romans or of death. How many of us would have done the same in each of these situations?  He showed compassion and love to all including his so called enemies. How we have gotten so off track from what he taught is a puzzle to me.

But for us as Buddhists and Christians now is the time to practice the principles of love and compassion, of turning the other cheek, of counting to three, of seeing the beauty of everyone and everything. Susan Jeffers in her book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, writes:

“At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you. The truth is: If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? The answer is: Nothing! (Pages 7-8).”[2]

So let’s take the great advice of Peace Pilgrim: If we fear nothing and radiate love, we can expect good things to come. Try it the next time you feel fear or anger building up inside of you, you’ll be glad you did and so will the other person! Remember to: Renounce all evil; practice all good; and work to save the many beings. Oh, don’t forget to count to 3 or take 3 breaths while you’re at it!


[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] Jeffers, S. (2007) Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Ballantine Books: NY, NY.

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So let us refresh our memories of the three treasures: taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.  So when we look at the way we view the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, let us hold them as “one.”  As it says in Master Hakuin’s The Song of Zazen, “Then the gate to the oneness of cause-and-effect is thrown open.  Not two and not three, straight ahead runs the Way.”

Our picture of the Buddha the man and the Buddha concept that we are all one and the same seems like an untruth.  How easy it is to stray into the negative or doubting place when we hear ourselves say harsh words, or gossip, or treat people unkindly.  We begin to think: HA I’m not the Buddha, look what I just said or did.  I am a mean, awful, untrustworthy person!  I am not like the Buddha at all!

But fortunately for us “straight ahead runs the Way.”  So if we fall the first thing we do is simply get up, and then we move forward putting one foot in front of the other.  We are now moving ahead in time and space, are we not?  So simply acknowledge your behavior and remember your vow to not disparage the three treasures and move on—quickly and quietly.  Remember the Buddha tried many things throughout his lifetime to find the way.  And in the end we need to return home to the oneness that we all are.

Peter Levitt in his wonderful book The Essential Dogen Writings of the Great Zen Master (2013) quotes an excerpt from an Allen Ginsberg poem entitled “Song (page xv-xvi).”  And where Ginsberg uses the word “love” Peter says it could be replaced with other words such as wholeness, oneness, unity, and Self.

The opening lines:

Under the burden

Of solitude,

Under the burden

Of dissatisfaction

The weight,

The weight we carry is love.

The final lines:

Yes, yes,

That’s what

I wanted,

I always wanted,

I always wanted to return

To the body

Where I was born[1]

We too want to return to the oneness of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha where we have the opportunity to experience the oneness of all there is.  We do this through following the life example of the Buddha, the teachings, and the community where we sit together as one breath, one body, and one mind.  For me this is what I hear Allen Ginsberg saying in that last phrase this is to “return to the body where I was born.”

Travel lightly, Shokai

Things to focus on this week:

  •  Step one: Begin by remembering the three treasures throughout the day.
  • Step two: Set your intention to do so before each possible encounter and after each slip and fall.
  • Step three: Remember this is a life journey not a destination..
  • Step four: Finally, keep a journal on the precept and make note of how learning to embody it in thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life. Good luck with that!

[1] K. Tanahashi, P. Levitt. (2013) The Essential Dogen Writings of the Great Zen Master. Shambhala:  Boston, MA

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