The Path as Participatory
Life obviously must be lived. How does repeating the Three Refuges help one to live this life? One way to participate in the living expression of what it means to take refuge in the Three Treasures is through the ritual service. Participation in ritual, however, only becomes meaningful when it can help the individual to understand or see the Truth one is participating in. Because of this, ritual is created from and founded on the doctrinal understanding of truth of a particular faith or tradition. Through seeing how the transmission of doctrine can be expressed in life, the meaning of that transmission becomes clearer: it becomes a path that can help one to not only understand one’s life, but to live and share that life as well.
Because of this, descriptions of the ritual service (especially as practiced by the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition) will be an integral part of this introductory course. This introduction to Buddhism begins with the assumption that life, like religion, must be participated in and not just studied if it is to have a deeper meaning.
You, as the reader, may approach these writings as a way to explore the richness of human expression, to gain a greater understanding of your life through the lens of another tradition, or to seek or deepen your commitment to a personal path. It is my hope as the writer, that through sharing the triple perspective of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we can all gain a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of life and be motivated to share our joy in the ability to participate in the rarest of rare things: your own life.