The Third Jewel is the Sangha
I was one of a few Rama students who recently attended the Lenz Foundation conference in Garrison, New York. The conference included about 80 representatives from 50 non-profit organizations with Buddhist, meditation, and related missions.
During past conferences, I felt the Rama students were a bit of an anomaly, but this time I felt part of a community of practitioners of the ancient arts of meditation and self-discovery. In morning meditation we sat in silence. Once or twice I opened my eyes. It felt so good to see so many monks from different traditions together with their eyes closed reaching to the infinite.
Buddha said the three jewels of practice are the buddha, dharma, and sangha. During discussions at the conference, one of the participants mentioned that the third jewel is the sangha. That kept repeating in my mind.
The Rama students who were at the conference connected a few times and there was respect, smiles, and lightness. We shared a bond of love for our teacher and for the path we are on. We made each other laugh easily and our time together was joyous.
On a break during the conference, I drove around the Westchester County New York area. I could feel many of the thought-forms I held during the period that I had lived there (while Rama was in the body). I could feel the striving, the confusion, the questioning – What should I do? What is my purpose? How can I purify my relationship with Rama? How can I walk through the doorways of awareness he is opening for me? How can I work properly with my fellow monks?
When our teacher dropped the body, it was a seismic event in my life. It has taken me years to try to come to terms with his passing. As I drove I realized I still have unresolved feelings. Deep inside I have been blaming myself and my fellow students for his absence. Why didn’t we listen to him more completely? Why did we get angry and afraid? Why couldn’t we reach more deeply? If we had (fill in the blanks) perhaps he would still be with us.
I believe it is time for me to drop the guilt, the judgment, the regret. But how?
Over the years when I was stuck on the path, the only thing that was powerful enough to take me past my limitations was love.
Rama said, “You may not be able to alter your condition in life, but you can love”. Rama stated on the tape, Love – the Fourth Level of Ecstasy, that love and compassion is the one thing he can teach people. Rama taught that love is the most powerful force in the universe.
I will remember that Rama’s love is unconditional. I will strive to love more deeply until the storm of thoughts and feelings passes and there is nothing left but love.
Rama said, “If you forget who I am, you will forget who you are.” I would add – if I forget who the sangha is, I will forget who I am.
The sangha is – the wild-eyed members of the electronic tribe; the lineage holders of the Rae Chorze Fwaz school of Tantric Buddhist enlightenment; the direct students of a fully enlightened teacher who brought the essence of the Buddhist teachings to the West; the ordained monks of a true Buddha who, upon his death, left his estate to protect Buddhism in America.
I am part of this sangha. I will strive to let go of thoughts and feelings which interfere with my full embrace of the third jewel – the sangha. I will reach deeply to take refuge in the buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.