During my fascinating discussion with Robin Cooper is learnt more about a concept I’ve stumbled upon before, the Three Jewels of Buddhism. The ideals at the heart of Buddhism are collectively known as the ‘Three Jewels’, or the ‘Three Treasures’. These are the Buddha (the yellow jewel), the Dharma (the blue jewel), and the Sangha (the red jewel). It is by making these the central principles of your life that you become a Buddhist.
I practise Mindfulness meditation, which is a practise often credited to Jon Kabat Zinn, which draws its knowledge and methods from Eastern schools of thought, the central one certainly being Buddhism. A huge part of the success of Mindfulness has to be due to the re-branding, the use of less loaded words, and re-contextualling the knowledge and teachings of Buddhism in such a way that they became more interesting and credible to Westerners. The benefits of this re-branding have been huge, Clinical studies have documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in different patient categories as well as in healthy adults and children. Programs based on Kabat-Zinn’s and similar models have been widely adopted in schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans’ centers, and other environments.
But it is not just the mental well being that excites and interests me about meditation, it is the potential it has for a much more important goal. I, and others, believe that meditation may be one possible path to a species wide shift in perception. Where latest scientific theories work in harmony with some of our most ancient philosophies, that state that we are not, as we often appear or feel to be, solitary individuals pitted against each other and our environment. Rather we are unique and complex instances of energy in a vast and possibly incomprehensible network, originating from, and ultimately returning to, a marvellous cosmic source. As members of this web, sustainability in our designed environment is not a buzzword or a marketing technique, but rather a selfish and urgent protection of our very selves.
I think we need to move beyond discussing meditation as an isolated technique for individual gain, and remember the Three Jewels of its heritage. I think these might translate well as:
Buddha – Awareness
Dharma – The Method
Sanga – Community