The Theravada way to pay homage to the Buddha is: clasp the palms and kneel (optional) and recite the following: ‘Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa’ (Homage to Him, the Exalted One, the Holy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One). The second step is chant the ‘The Three Refuges: Buddham Saranam Gacchami (to the Buddha [Enlightened] I go for refuge), Dhammam Saranam Gacchami (to the Dhamma [teachings] I go for refuge) and Sangham Saranam Gacchami (to the Sangha [Monks] I go for refuge).
The third Refuge tells us how important is being together, in ones’ pilgrimage to salvation. The new millennium opened with streaks of spiritual awakening all around. We found people crowding around charismatic retreat centres, holistic healing techniques and holistic living courses. Within hardly a decade, we witness a slow down there. Psychedelic experiences could not continue long. A deep analysis is not necessary to find out the reasons for this shift. The four obvious reasons are, sadhaks could not be taken into continued experiences, masters and organizations could not live what they taught, money and luxury began deciding things and finally the processes could not withstand the challenges of reasoning.
The result was a linear rise in the number of laymen choosing to be alone, preferring to end up with their due destiny rather than adjusting to the spiritual fast food services offered. This definitely is more dangerous than the old. Somehow, Ashrams that permit sadhaks to be what they are have begun flourishing fast in India, setting a new trend. The style is not new; Indian saints underline the Buddhist saying, ‘thousand monks, thousand religions’. These Scriptures further say ‘You are your own master; you make your own future’.
However, association of likeminded people is always a vital requirement. A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going to church. After a few weeks, the vicar decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The vicar found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his vicar’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.
The vicar made himself at home but said nothing. After some minutes, the vicar carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone and then he sat back in his chair, still silent. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The vicar glanced at his watch and slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the vicar reached the door to leave, his host said with tears running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon’. Without a word spoken, the man understood how dangerous it is to remain alone.