Although we take Refuge in the Three Jewels, the practice of the Dharma is necessarily a personal undertaking. We can observe and emulate the example of the Buddha Shakyamuni and our Teachers, study and contemplate the teachings of the Dharma, and gain strength and encouragement from the Sangha, our companions on the path, but we cannot relinquish or minimize our responsibility for our own practice. The Buddhas point the way, but is we who must walk the path.
In an oft-quoted section of the Kalama Sutra, the Buddha exhorts us:
Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing,
nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor,
nor upon what is written in scripture, nor upon surmise,
nor upon an axiom, nor upon specious reasoning,
nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over,
nor upon another’s seeming authority,
nor upon the consideration, “This monk is our teacher.”
When you yourselves know: “These things are good;
these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise;
undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness”,
enter on and abide in them.