Tag Archives: buddha

Being Dharma


Being Dharma – The Essence of the Buddha’s Teaching by Ajahn Chah

Buddhism as we know branched out into 3 main followings, depending upon the inclination of the followers. The Theravada or the path of the elders is considered to be the original teachings of the Buddha, probably because the monks who follow it stick to the same rules as set during the time of the Buddha. They live in the forest, go to the town to beg for food and spend the day and night in solitary meditation. Other major branches include the Tibetan Buddhism, which takes Buddhism even beyond the teachings of the Buddha and Zen Buddhism, which makes no bones about its intention of pointing to the reality directly and nothing else.

Ajahn Chah was a renowned teacher of the Theravada school. He lived in the forests of Thailand and is the teacher of many western Buddhist monks. The hallmark of a good teacher is his ability to make complex theory into simple ideas and Ajahn Chah is one of the best teachers in this.

The book Being Dharma is a succinct exposition of the whole teaching of the Buddha. It covers just enough for any sincere seeker to grasp the insights. Ajahn Chah does not spend time in metaphysical discussions but directly addresses the heart of the matter. In this regard, he resembles a zen master.

The book is organized in the following chapters – hearing dharma, understanding dharma, practicing dharma, seeing dharma and being dharma. The contents are also as easy as the chapter titles.

Just like in the meditation practice, you are told to return to the breath whenever the mind is distracted, this is one book, I return to whenever I get lost in multiple other books. It always helps me to regain my center.

Quotes from Being Dharma

First one learns Dharma, but does not yet understand it; then one understands it, but has not yet practiced. One practices, but has not seen the truth of Dharma; then one sees Dharma, but one’s being has not yet become Dharma.

When there is no person, there are no problems. There is no need for solutions, because there are no problems to solve anymore and no one to solve them.

No matter where you are, no matter what your situation, it is possible for you to be practicing Dharma well

We are called Joe or Alice or perhaps Prince so-and-so, but if we realize the Dharma then we too are Buddha, no different from him.

That which we are talking about does not arise and does not cease. It abides as it is. Or to put it simply, it is not born and does not die.

People are born with physical form and mind. In the beginning these things are born, in the middle they change, and in the end they are extinguished. This is their nature. We can’t do much to alter these facts.


Reinterpreting the 3 Jewels of Buddhism


The Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha – The Triple Gem

All practitioners of Buddhism take refuge in the triple gem. However, a deeper meaning can be interpreted about them apart from the conventional meaning.

The 3 jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Conventionally, the Buddha stands for the person Gautama Buddha who taught 2500 years ago in India. The Dhamma stands for his teachings and the Sangha is the order of monks which he founded.

Whenever a lay person wants to get ordained as a Buddhist, he has to recite the three refuges thrice. By doing this, the person expresses his intention to lead his life by following the teachings of the Buddha. If the person wishes to become a monk, he must take formal vows.

Most lay people who consider themselves as Buddhists do not investigate the deeper meaning of the triple gem. They pay respects to the statue of the Buddha; they perform rites and rituals or read Dhamma and also offer food and robes for the monks in the Sangha. However, if one really investigates the true significance of the three jewels, one can discover the Buddha’s teaching for himself and become enlightened.

First Jewel – Buddham Saranam Gacchami (I Take Refuge in the Buddha)

Buddha literally means the ‘Awakened One’. It also stands for the Buddha Nature which is the underlying substance of all the phenomena of this universe and also one’s true self. So when one takes refuge in the Buddha, it is not bowing down to the image of Buddha or praying to that image. In a deeper sense, it means taking refuge in one’s true self or true nature.

Ordinarily, we are known by our individual names and are living according to the circumstances that life presents to us. However, in the Buddhist understanding, this is bondage. To be free, one must recognize one’s true nature and live in it, which puts an end to all striving because one has reached one’s home.

Second Jewel – Dhammam Saranam Gacchami (I Take Refuge in the Dhamma)

The word Dhamma has many meanings. The most commonly used is that of the body of teachings of the Buddha in the form of discourses and the sutras. However, a deeper meaning of the word Dhamma is also phenomena or ultimate reality. It is like saying that ‘water flows because it is the Dhamma of water to flow’.

Taking refuge in the Dhamma does mean, at the superficial level, studying the sutras and following the teachings in one’s life. However, in a deeper sense, one must take refuge in the true nature of things. One must understand that all things have the nature of impermanence, dissatisfaction and emptiness and live that understanding. This refuge meant to free oneself from attachment to things and wrong notions.

Third Jewel – Sangham Saranam Gacchami (I Take Refuge in the Sangha)

The Sangha is the community of monks who live according to the teachings of the Buddha. They beg for their food and spend their time in meditation. In the literal sense, taking refuge in the Sangha means to join their order by becoming a monk. However, in the deeper sense, it means living the right life oneself. Living in society, where one is tempted by all kinds of desires and influences, one must live rightly even if one has to stand alone.

Taking refuge means one is protected against all danger and calamity. And taking refuge in the triple gem is the true protection from the vicissitudes of life. However, one must take the refuge understanding the deeper significance of the three jewels.