The Buddha Shakyamuni lived 2,500 years ago in India. He was a human being who possessed the same spiritual potential that is within us all. He realised enlightenment and spent His life helping others find what He had found. Enlightenment is the direct realisation of one’s true nature and the nature of all existence.This reveals not only the cause of human suffering, but the means by which we can bring our own suffering to an end. It engenders profound compassion for all living things.
Since the time of the Buddha many traditions of Buddhism have developed. The aim of each has been to express the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in a manner appropriate to the time and culture.
The Serene Reflection Meditation tradition embodies:
- The practice of meditation.
- Keeping the moral Precepts of Buddhism, both in our outward behaviour in service to others, as well as in the inner practice of cleansing our own hearts
- The teaching that all beings have the Buddha Nature. All are fundamentally pure, but out of ignorance we create suffering, thereby obscuring our real nature.
- Awakening the heart of compassion and expressing it through selfless activity.
Through meditation we can discover the truth directly for ourselves, therefore it is the foundation of religious practice. It is to sit still with an open, alert and bright mind, neither suppressing nor indulging the thoughts and feelings that arise. In meditation, one learns how to accept oneself and the world as it is. Profound transformation becomes possible once we know things as they are. If I believe I am separate from everyone else, then I act selfishly to get what I want. If I know that within diversity nothing is separate, then I already have all I need, for I am one with all things.
The Precepts are a description of enlightened action and serve as a guide. They are never imposed, but may be undertaken freely by anyone who wishes.
The Three Refuges
- I take refuge in the Buddha (the source of the teaching).
- I take refuge in the Dharma (the Buddha’s teaching).
- I take refuge in the Sangha (those who practise the teaching).
The Three Pure Precepts
- Cease from evil. By refraining from that which causes confusion and suffering, the truth will shine of itself.
- Do only good. Doing good arises naturally when we cease from evil.
- Do good for others. To train in Buddhism is to devote one’s life to the good of all living things.
The Ten Great Precepts
- Do not kill.
- Do not steal.
- Do not covet.
- Do not say that which is not true.
- Do not sell the wine of delusion (whether drink, drugs or the emotional appeal of delusive thinking).
- Do not speak against others.
- Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.
- Do not be mean in giving Dharma (teaching) or wealth.
- Do not be angry.
- Do not defame the Three Treasures (do not deny the Buddha within yourself or in others).
We take refuge in the Buddha by trusting the wisdom born of the compassionate heart and we also develop the humility to check our understanding with the teaching of the Buddhas and Ancestors (the Dharma) and with the Sangha (the living community of those who follow the Buddha’s Way). We are all human and even the greatest teacher can make a mistake; however, if the Precepts are taken seriously, they provide the necessary safeguards and guidance.
All Beings Have Buddha Nature
In the Serene Reflection Meditation tradition, one can follow the Way as a lay person or as a monk. We use the term ‘monk’ for women as well as men, since there is complete spiritual and functional equality within our Order. We can all learn to meditate because we all have Buddha Nature, even though it may be as yet unseen. All beings are Buddhas and should be respected as such, whatever manner of life they may be in.
Awakening the Heart of Gratitude and Compassion
Compassion is aroused when we experience our unity with all life. When we realize that all things teach, we can accept them with gratitude. Meditation embraces both the good and the bad without judgement or indulgence. When we are touched by the infinite compassion that is the foundation of all existence, the desire to help all beings arises naturally.
By understanding and embracing the darker side of ourselves, we come to understand that the Precepts are our life blood and that to go against them causes suffering for ourselves and others. Our aim is to make Buddhist teaching available to all, but never to try to impose it upon anyone. It does not claim an exclusive truth; it is a way that has led many to the deepest fulfilment.