Upon the Buddha's deathbed he instructed his followers thusly, 

"Disciples, when I pass away, you may think, the Master's doctrine is gone and the Master is no more. You should not think so because the Dharma and the Discipline, which I have taught you, will be your Master after my death. Let the Dharma be your light. Let It be your refuge. Do not seek any other refuge. Go out into the world and preach the dharma (law) that is good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. Disciples, you should well protect and preserve the doctrine which I advised you to probe so that this wholesome life may take its course and continue for ages to come for the welfare of many, to console the world, and for the happiness and welfare of the sentient beings.”

The Buddha at another time instructed the sangha that there are people of hard hearts, people of shallow hearts, people of distracted hearts, and people of receptive hearts. The message of the Buddha Dharma is for those with receptive hearts. 

If you are of receptive heart, the Sarasota Zen Center (SZC) sangha (congregation) gives you: 

    1        A genuine purpose to live for (dharma mission), 

    2        Good people to associate with (sangha membership), 

    3        Principles to live by (precepts), 

    4        Profession to live out (ministry), 

    5        Power to live on (karmaic retribution).

Our Sarasota Zen Center (SZC) developmental process offer you:

1. Commitment to membership— by joining our sangha. 

2. Commitment to maturity—  by receiving Jukai, the 5 lay Buddhist precepts.

3. Commitment to ministry— by receiving Zen discipleship, the 16 Bodhisattva precepts. Commitment to SZC mission— to enable one to express, make accessible, and embody the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.

We can only believe what we can do. The message of the Buddha is too important for us to waste our precious life, time, money, and energy on nonproductive methods. Our SZC Buddhist temple is in the Bodhisattva Discipleship building business— changing lives as expressed by the Buddhist Four Bodhisattva Vows.

The four part Bodhisattva vows are: 

    1        to save everyone, 

    2        to remove all hindrances to awakening, 

    3        to study all the teachings, and 

    4        to attain the Buddha way of supreme awakening 

— is what we have devoted ourselves to pursuing through integrating these four Bodhisattva vows into our daily life. Indeed, it is a fundamental tenet of our Mahayana Buddhism that we should live a life of helping others- and that our very salvation is a matter of sharing the buddha dharma.

I hope you will join with me and countless others who have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Taking refuge means that we have some understanding about suffering, and we have confidence that the Buddha, His Dharma and our Sangha (known as the "Three Jewels” or the “Triple Gems”) can help us. 

We should however not be taking refuge in Buddhism to avoid problems in this very life. We like to be free from suffering. We come to understand the frustrating nature of all life. The best reason for taking refuge would be the wish to free all living (sentient) beings from suffering. 

What is suffering? The analogy of sickness is often used; Buddha is the doctor; Dharma is the medicine; Sangha is the nurse; we are the patient; the cure is taking the medicine, which means practicing the methods. Taking refuge is like unpacking the medicine and deciding to follow the doctor's advice.

The Buddha instructed his disciples not to waste their time and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever he was asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent. Instead, he directed his disciples toward practical efforts. Questioned one day about the problem of the infinity of the world, the Buddha said, “Whether the world is finite or infinite, limited or unlimited, the problem of your liberation remains the same.” Another time he said, “Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first.” 

Life is so short. We should not spend it in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to Liberation. Please continued your daily practice of zazen (Zen seated meditation) and come visit the Sarasota Zen Center often to learn the Buddha Dharma first hand. 

May Peace Prevail on Earth!

Reverend Daito Zenei Thompson- Osho, director SZC