The third jewel/refuge in Buddhadharma is Sangha—the community of virtuous ones, past, present and future, who reflect, practice and live in a pure hearted way, contemplate truth and develop wisdom.
When we take refuge in Sangha, we not only belong to, a safe, vibrant, engaged and interconnected community, we also provide refuge. Whatever gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, young or old, rich or poor, educated or under-educated, each equally belongs. It doesn’t mean that conflicts don’t arise when human beings interact. Yet, taking and providing refuge, a ground of trust is established in mutual intentions of goodwill and harmlessness, assured that each of us takes responsibility for the impact of our thoughts, words and deeds on fellow beings. Sangha grows through the agglomeration of our individual commitments to provide such refuge.
Committing to our part, we resolve to make our invisible prejudices and biases visible, to honestly and openly work to make conscious our unconsciousness in the spheres of race, class and all other categories into which we compartmentalize, and ignore the uniqueness of, every being. This is required of each of us in these times of internecine race, class and religious wars born of greed, hatred and delusion. Uprooting these defilements, we are Sangha that provides that refuge for which every one of us yearns.
We join Thomas Paine in saying, “The world is my country, all [hu]mankind is my … [kin] and my religion is to do good.”
May we each provide peace, harmony and true refuge.