The Three Jewels

By Christopher Reed As you are breathing, imagine, at the very center of your breath, in your heart, a beautiful flower. Perhaps it is a sunflower, a rose, or a fragrant hibiscus. Picture in the center of that flower three radiant jewels. Now reach in and hold one of those jewels to the light. The light shows through and is reflected in so many ways. The jewel casts intricate patterns all around. At times it even appears that the jewel itself is the source of light.

This jewel is the Buddha and all that the Buddha means to you. It is the historical Buddha, the human being who lived in India 2600 years ago. It is a source of inspiration. It is the representation of wisdom and compassion. It is the expression within yourself of your own archetypal Buddha Nature. Each face of this jewel is some aspect, some perception, leading you towards your own deeper understanding. Place the jewel back in the heart of the flower. The energy that moves through you with each breath is an expresssion of the very same energy that moves through everything that is alive.

The second jewel is the Dharma. It is neither psychology nor philosophy, nor is it doctrine in the sense of something you simply believe in. Light shines through this jewel as though it were the source of light. It is both the means and the end, the experience and the expression of unconditional loving kindness, and the clarity of seeing that cuts through clinging and illusion.

The third jewel is the Sangha, the community, which includes you and me. You entrust yourself to the Buddha and the Dharma, but in order to do so you also entrust yourself to your own capacity for realization, and to the environment and community where this trust develops. One day the Buddha's companion, Ananda, suggested that the spiritual community might in fact be half of the practice in the meditative life. "Not so, Ananda, not so," replied the Buddha. "It is the whole practice."

So the three jewels are one jewel. The jewel radiates within your heart. As you breathe, the energy that moves through you with every breath you take is an expression of the very same energy that moves through everything that lives--through the trunks of trees, through the wings of tiny flying creatures, through the deepest oceans, moving them with tides and currents. The jewel within your heart radiates light outward, touching each of these things; both the source of light and its reflection.

Christopher Reed Venice, California

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