The Absolute and the Relative
- Accounts of Daily Life
- Account #7
By Yin Zhi Shakya,
OHY (Translated from the Spanish
chún (Fernando Valencia)
Presented September 19, 2002
...And Jesus went into the temple of god, and cast
out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the table of the
moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And said unto them, it is
written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den
of thieves. - Gospel of Matthew 21: 12-1
...Driven by fear, men take to many a
refuge, in mountains, forests, parks, sacred groves and shrines; but these are
not a secure kind of refuge. By taking to this sort of refuge one is not
released from suffering. He who has gone to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for
refuge, and who with true wisdom understands the Four Noble Truths of suffering,
the Origin of suffering, the End of suffering and the Noble Path leading to the
Elimination of suffering, finds a secure refuge, the ultimate refuge: by taking
to this refuge one is indeed released from all suffering. -
Dhammapada: Chapter 13 - the Buddhas - Paragraph 190-192
- People often believe that simply by attending
the temple, the church, or any kind of tabernacle, they have fulfilled their
religious duty. They believe that all they have to do to maintain a good
relationship to God is to regularly attend services. Those who believe this lack
true knowledge of themselves. Buddhists who believe this have not yet attained
consciousness of their Buddha Self.
- It is correct to think that we comply with our duty towards all beings simply
by going to a temple? Is this how we conscientiously fulfill our duty as human
beings; how we formally state what we have come to express in this life; how we
communicate with the Divine? We constantly seek to experience the tranquility,
serenity and happiness which we miss so much in our lives. Is it enough to pause
in the suffering of this life in Samsara by finding an hour’s refuge in a
- Yes, we feel so good when we attend a church or a temple. There are people
there who have come for the same reasons as we have come. There are priests
there that offer us spiritual help. We find fellowship in praying together and
meditating, and for the time we are there we seem to speak to God and listen to
His Divine Voice. We feel so protected from calamity. And then we leave the
sacred place and go back into our suffering world.
- The fact is that attending services doesn’t exempt us from the personal
responsibilities we have to ourselves and to others. We are required to
understand where we have come from, where we are heading towards, and who we are
in relation to the rest of the universe. We need to know all this in order to be
capable of live without ignorance and to be in agreement with universal law. We
need an abiding peace and security, the harmony of the true refuge where nothing
can ever harm us. This is the refuge that our Buddha Self offers.
- Sometimes it is necessary to enter a temple building.
Han Shan tells us in his autobiography of the necessity he felt in a
critical moment of his life to go into the temple: "I wanted to take refuge
in my Buddha Self. I got up and went into the temple and prostrated myself
before the altar."
- But as Jesus said and the Buddha demonstrated in his Enlightenment, the true
temple is within oneself. The true church is within each one of us. The true
tabernacle is in our inner self. Our duty is constantly to renovate it, to clean
it of the sludge of ignorance, to adorn it with the flowers of compassion,
unselfishness and kindness, to scent it with the burning incense of unyielding
faith in our Buddha self, to govern it with the Divine Principle, and, mainly,
to take care that its gates are not open to thieves, that is to say, to
ignorance in all its forms that can enter and steal our most valuable treasure:
the vision of our Buddha Self.
- Always, in all races and cultures, humanity continuously creates temples.
Why? Because of humanity’s constant need to rediscover what is hidden: that
fundamental need to be integrated into Unity, the Universal Oneness. It is the
temple that is the symbol of divine space, the specific location in which we
desire to express and feel "at home" in expressing our most innermost
- What is the purpose of the temple? It is our place of shelter, our retreat,
our refuge, our protected space in which we feel unconditionally secure. And
also it is the place in which we learn about ourselves, and obtain advice, and
find solace in the companionship of others who struggle as we do.
- But again we must ask ourselves, "Is the concrete building the true
temple? Is it the only place we should go to communicate with the Origin and the
Principle, the only place that is able to shelter us from the suffering of
- And the answer to this is the answer to all mankind: The true temple, the
real one, the one in which the head priest. our Buddha Self, presides is within
us. We carry this refuge with us wherever we go. We do not need to search maps
looking for it. In this refuge we are always able to find shelter and nothing or
nobody can disturb us there. In this temple the Dharma presents Itself in all
its splendor and the Sangha, the Universal Unity, with all Its beings and
thoughts lives eternally.
- Cathedrals, chapels, churches, synagogues, mosques, sanctuaries, oratorios,
ashrams, hermitages, tabernacles, abbeys... they exist all around the world from
the great cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to the most humble temple of the
poorest and smallest village in the Himalayas - all have been built; all have
shown the effects of use and age; all are restored or rebuilt. They remain as
symbols of the spiritual renewal that should take place within each one of us.
When we visit these sacred shrines it is to seek what we already have inside us.
These buildings show us how to find the Road outside. Inside, in
architecture’s lovely silent language, we feel the love of God and receive the
guidance of His holy priests.
- Master Han Shan says in his Eighth Maxim: "There are moments in which we
act with an unbreakable faith in the Dharma, even if we do not understand the
situation. There are other moments in which we understand the situation but we
fear to be completely faithful. In the first example we originate from the heart
and in the second from the mind. But our duty is to unite the two of them: the
understanding and the faith."
- When I think of this duty to unite the two in an obedience to The Law of
Unity, I think:
- How far away! How near!
How near! How far away!
Far away and proximity relate neither to time nor space.
The true comprehension, the `Right here! Right now!' of Divine Truth
Is to see with our Buddha Vision
And to act with our Buddha Self.
- And to finish on the note with which we began, we offer a few memorable
passages from scripture:
- Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that
the spirit of God dwelleth in you? First
- And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell
among them. Exodus 25:8
- One is one’s own guard. What other guard could one
have? One is one’s own destiny. Therefore one should train oneself, like a
merchant does a thoroughbred horse. Dhammapada,
Chapter 25 - The Bhikkhu - Paragraph 380.