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I take refuge in the Dharma. Truly it is my vow that together with multitudinous beings, I will deeply enter the Dharma Storehouse and become like the ocean of wisdom.

The Dharma Storehouse

Buddha teaching

One cannot help but be impressed by the propagation activity of Sakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, during his lifetime. Over a period spanning more than four decades, the historical Buddha continuously shared his insights with all who were willing to listen. Because his messages were so attentive to the person or persons he addressed, it is said that those who listened could not help but be made to feel that the messages were meant solely for them. This description of how the Buddha gave his message is important in helping us to understand how we should approach religion in general and how we should follow the Buddhist Path in particular. Through the Buddha’s teaching style, we are shown that religion, although meant for all, is ultimately personal. Religions develop because they help us to see the universal nature of life. They draw people because of the universal message they try to provide for all. However, one should always keep in mind that the life religion specifically addresses is none other than your own. In Jodo Shinshu, this attitude is found in the saying, "When I consider deeply the Vow of Amida, which arose from five kalpas of profound thought, I realize that it was entirely for the sake of myself alone!" These are the words of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Buddha and student

Because Sakyamuni Buddha taught in a very personal manner, it is said that he gave 84,000 messages during his lifetime. The number 84,000 is probably arbitrary. However, it is meant to convey the idea that the Buddha exhausted all the possible ways for humanity to reach enlightenment. The number of paths is an expression of the universality of the Buddha-Dharma. Within the 84,000 paths, one path is most suited to you. This is the expression of the personal aspect of the Buddha-Dharma. In other words, these 84,000 paths will allow everyone to become a Buddha. Taken together, the 84,000 paths are what has is known as the Dharma; the Truth to which a Buddha becomes Enlightened. The Dharma is the content and source of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. It is the great repository of wisdom that allows the Buddha to help all sentient beings reach the same state of Enlightenment. The Dharma is said to be a storehouse.