The Amitabha Sutra - The Songs of the Birds Inspire Mindfulness
When sentient beings in this land hear the singing of the birds, they become mindful of the Buddhas, mindful of the Dharma, mindful of the Sangha.
Sakyamuni Buddha explained that, as they listen to the bird’s Dharma talks, the beings in the Pure Land become mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the sangha. Here in samsara, we also strive to be mindful.
When we take the three refuges, we are being mindful of the Buddha, of the Dharma, and of the sangha.
To be mindful of the Buddha is to return from delusion and rely upon awareness and understanding. Awareness, enlightenment, and the pure mind are the principles underlying all schools of Buddhism. We should always reflect, asking ourselves if our mental, verbal, and physical karmas reflect what the Buddha taught.
Being mindful of the Dharma is to return from erroneous views and rely upon proper views and understanding. We should ask ourselves if our thoughts are proper. Do they accord with what is in the sutras? We depend on these teachings because we cannot depend on our personal viewpoints.
Being mindful of the sangha is to return from pollution and disharmony, and rely upon purity of mind and the six principles of harmony. Here, we ask ourselves if our mind is pure, free of afflictions and wandering thoughts. Is our life one of harmony? Or is it one of discord? If the latter, we can use the six principles of harmony as guidelines in our interactions with others in our workplace, our family, and our sangha.
If we are sincerely mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the sangha, then we have accepted the teachings and have indeed taken the three refuges. If, however, we continue to hold our same improper understanding, then we have not accepted—have not internalized—the teachings, but have only gone through the formality of taking part in a ceremony.
— Chapter 20, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling
Photo credit link