“Triple Gem Refuge: An Affirmation of Faith” A speech Given by Ven. Miao Kuang on 5/8/16

By Neal Golub

Ven. Miao Guang gave a wonderful talk in English on Sunday, May 8, entitled “Triple Gem Refuge: An Affirmation of Faith”, to an enthusiastic group that filled the Large Conference Room.  The Venerable is visiting from the Fo Guang Shan temple in Taiwan, and she is the personal English translator for Venerable Master Hsin Yun.  Her English is excellent, as you can imagine, and her style of speaking is very clear and well organized, but she is very down to earth too, as you will see in some of the quotes that follow.  It was a lot of fun to listen.

She started by describing the meaning and purpose of taking refuge, which is “We are affirming Buddhism as our belief”.  She also presented this quote from the Ven. Master Hsin Yun, “When a Buddhist practitioner decides to take refuge in the Triple Gem, it represents a stronger life commitment to learn, practice, and embody the virtues of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. “

Ven. Miao Guang explained the concept of taking refuge, and of the Triple Gem, starting by describing the motivation that many of us have to learn about Buddhism.  She said “Sometimes life really sucks, doesn’t it?”  She described taking refuge as taking refuge from darkness, from feelings of loss, and from your own afflictions.  She explained taking refuge as “Returning to your home that can give you solace and peace”.

The Triple Gem, in which we are taking refuge, is the Buddha (the teacher), the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community of monastics).  She described each of these, starting with a brief account of the Buddha’s life, including that he renounced his luxurious life as a prince, spent 6 years on the path as a monk before becoming enlightened, and then taught for 49 years until he passed away. 

She described the Dharma as the Four Noble Truths, which deals with suffering in a way that is similar to a doctor’s method of dealing with an ailment (symptoms, cause, prognosis, and treatment).  She gave the three principles of the Dharma, which are; everything is always changing, anything we attach to will eventually lead to suffering, and nothing has an intrinsic self-nature.  She described the Sangha as the community of monastics who are following the Buddha’s teaching, as well as teaching it to others.

The Venerable then talked about the benefits of taking refuge, which include having a great teacher (the Buddha), avoiding rebirth in the realms lower than human, and dignifying one’s character.  In response to a question about how people considering this step might worry about being able to uphold such high standards all the time, she said that no one is perfect, and instead of starting at one hundred and counting down for each bad deed, start at zero and count up for each good deed. Very practical advice!

Although this talk is not available online, if you would like to watch Ven. Miao Guang give a similar talk on this topic, here are the links (Part 1 and Part 2), and please check out her other excellent You Tube videos on a variety of Buddhist concepts.



(Photos are provided by: BLIA)