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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The actual meaning of refuge in the Triple Gems and the Precepts, for the lay person

The actual meaning of refuge in the Triple Gems and the Precepts, for the lay person

The Lord Buddha showed us the Eightfold Path as the only way for the eternal ending of suffering - the attainment of Nirvana. This is something that the Buddha realized by himself and preached to the world. Eventhough he was knowledgeable in everything in the whole universe in and out, the Great Teacher taught primarily as to how to end suffering. Therefore, the teachings mainly revolve round and incorporate the essence of His Declaration that 'the cause of suffering is attachment and the only way to end suffering 'is non-attachment'. As such, the recitals -in Pali - the language in which the Buddha preached - for daily chanting for the lay person pertaining to 'taking in refuge' and the Precepts also were meant to go along with this concept.

These teachings of the Buddha can be correctly interpreted only by a person who is enlightened upon them i.e. by an Arahant. But down the years many of those who had translated the Teachings from Pali to other languages, had not been Arhants and had not even being the achievers of the lower ranking Super Mental Status and as such they had mis-interpreted the right meaning. Some of these authors were Indian and they have even incorporated ritualistic aspects of Hinduism into Buddhist teachings. Because of this what Buddha really meant in His Teachings has become clouded, buried under, with the result that an intelligent learner often gets confused and the follower misled. Thus it is understood that there are a number of misinterpretations to Buddha's Teachings but only one actual meaning. This actual meaning is the one which is in relevance to the Eightfold Path and the one which the Buddha really meant. Therefore, it fits right into the Eightfold Path. The actual meaning is quite intriguing. and interesting to the learner. It is useful to know the actual meaning of the verses so that the chanting becomes understandable and meaningful. This however does not mean that the conventional meaning of these disciplines is not significant because a careful study of the actual meaning of these shows that the former is already incorporated in the latter. The actual and conventional meanings of the reverence, the refuge and the precepts are shown in comparison here for the reader to have a right understanding of these.

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