Those who wish to practice the path to nirvana must have a good
teacher. Without a good teacher attaining the true Dharma is
impossible. Without attaining the true Dharma, escape from the
sufferings of this world is impossible.
A Buddhist teacher is one who is able to administer the three
refuges, which are the Three Treasures, also called the Triple
Jewel, of the Dharma and Sangha. Any sentient being wishing to learn
Buddhism must first take refuge with the Three Treasures, then the
body and mind have these on which to rely.
In translation Kuei Yi means retreating, returning, converting.
Retreating means to turn away from greed, hatred and infatuation and
return to the original mind. The original mind is described in three
ways. One returns to the Buddha, the perfectly enlightened one, the
pattern for life. One returns to the Dharma as the way leading to
the Buddha-land, the experience of nirvana. One returns to the Sangha, the Bodhisattvas who have reached the highest level of
spirituality. The Buddha represents enlightenment, the goal of our
life. The Dharma represents orthodoxy. The Sangha represents purity.
To take refuge in the Buddha is to take refuge in the Buddha
within. The Buddha is not to be sought outside the essence of mind,
Seeking externally for the perfectly enlightened one is a waste of
precious energy. If we do not take refuge in the Buddha within we
are unable to take refuge anywhere.
There are people who Kuei Yi and all day long think they are
following the way. But how can someone take refuge in the Buddha if
one has not seen or known the Buddha. This is an important point and
it should be examined carefully. It can truly be said of him who has
introspected his own essence of mind and realized the Buddha–Nature
that he has taken refuge in the Buddha.
To constantly introspect in search of the Buddha–Nature is right
mindfulness and right concentration which eventually lead to the
emanation of the pure, bright, essential mind. The effort of bending
one’s mind towards this practice leads one from the unwholesome to
the wholesome. This is true conversion. The sensual instincts are an
outgrowth of the Buddha–Nature within each sentient being, which is
like pure gold in the earth. A wise disciple, like a keen
prospector, knows how to locate and extract the precious substance.
A scattered mind that is slave to the senses is an impotent tool
with which to locate and recollect the essence. Therefore the baser
instincts must be properly converted and directed in order to attain self–enlightenment.
The first step for a Buddhist on the path to enlightenment is to
take refuge with an able teacher, a guide able to properly direct
the hearts and minds of his disciples. It is therefore of the
greatest importance to take refuge under a teacher who is at one
with the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
The world abounds with false teachers seeking their own benefit.
A right Dharma teacher is one who seeks only to benefit others.
Having already attained his own benefit he seeks nothing more for
himself. A correct and proper Dharma teacher is one who has attained
the Three Treasures and is therefore able to administer them to others.
Such a Dharma teacher has great gifts to reveal to his disciples.
For those gifts, which have no equal on earth or in heaven, he asks
nothing. Those wishing to take refuge in the Triple Jewel and
thereby recollect and comprehend their real natures should find a
wise and able teacher and submit to the teaching.