SERENE REFLECTION MEDITATION IN THE SOTO ZEN TRADITION OF BUDDHISM
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 realized enlightenment and spent His life helping others find what He had found. His direct experi- ence revealed not only the cause of human suffering but the means by which we can bring our own suf- fering to an end. Such an understanding 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 teach- ing 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 behavior and 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 obscur- ing our real nature.
♦ Awakening the heart of compassion and expressing it through selfless activity.
Meditation is the foundation of our religious practice; through it we can discover the Truth directly for ourselves. Serene Reflection Meditation is characterized by sitting 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 may act selfishly to get what I want. If I know that within diversity, nothing is separate, then I already have all I need. Meditation enables us to discover the real nature of our own being, and the underlying unity of all things.
The Buddhist Precepts
The Precepts are the abiding foundation of Serene Reflection Meditation—for both the newest and the most-experienced trainee, the Precepts continue to guide one’s efforts and guard against self-deception.
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 practice the teaching)
The Three Pure Precepts
1. Cease from evil. By refraining from that which causes confusion and suffering, the Truth will shine of itself.
2. Do only good. Doing good arises naturally from ceasing from evil.
3. 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
1. I will not kill.
2. I will not steal.
3. I will not covet.
4. I will not say that which is not true.
5. I will not sell the wine of delusion (whether drink, drugs or the emotional appeal of delusive thinking).
6. I will not speak against others.
7. I will not be proud of myself and devalue others.
8. I will not be miserly in giving either Dharma (teaching) or wealth.
9. I will not be angry.
10. I will not defame The Three Treasures. (I will not deny the Buddha within myself 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 under- standing with the Buddha’s teaching (the Scrip- tures) 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 when the Precepts are taken seriously, they provide an ethical framework.