This week Annie will facilitate. We will discuss the concept of taking refuge. As human beings, we naturally seek safety, security and meaning in our lives. To do this, we need help. That's where taking refuge comes in.
As a Buddhist, my practice is to find my refuge in the Three Jewels -- the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Taking refuge in the Buddha is taking refuge in my own Buddha nature, the Buddha inside of me. Taking refuge in the Dharma, is taking refuge in things as they are, including the wisdom passed down from my many teachers and ancestors. And taking refuge in the sangha means leaning on my communities, like Opening Heart, to help me make it through the days, weeks, and years.
Over my lifetime, I have taken refuge in many many other things -- bagels, alcohol, weed, boyfriends, and my dogs, to name a few. None of these refuges have been as stable or as helpful as the three jewels. The longer I practice in this tradition, the more important it feels to have a refuge I can rely on.
The definition of refuge (from the online google dictionary) is:
a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble, something providing shelter.
Dawn Haney, of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship says:
"I invite you to think about where you find the easiest refuge. For me today that’s here at the ocean or in nature more generally. You might find easy refuge in the love of others, whether people, pets, other creatures. Or the breath may be a solitary, steady refuge for you. Whatever it is that brings you a sense of groundedness, compassion for self as well as others. Letting the experience of this refuge wash over you like waves that will continue to be here with you."
In another Buddhist Peace Fellowship essay, Edwin Ng describes the refuges as a way to welcome vulnerability and entangle ourselves with others:
"As professed Buddhists, we take refuge in the Triple Gem: the Buddha as exemplar, the Dharma as path, the Sangha as community. By taking refuge we give wisdom and compassion a chance to flower from the groundless ground of our mortality. Refuge welcomes vulnerability and entangles the self with others and the world. Hospitality towards what is not-self is necessary; otherwise how do we repair broken worlds, heal the harms we suffer and inflict on one another, or invite shared hopes and aspirations for a more promising future? The taking of refuge is hosted by an act of promising."
This Monday, during our second sitting, I will offer a guided meditation on refuge, and afterward we can share about where we find refuge in the world. How would you describe taking refuge in the Buddha? the Dharma? the Sangha? Which refuges support your growth and well-being and which do not? What have you learned about refuge through your life and your practice? How does Opening Heart Mindfulness Community provide refuge for you?
Below you will find a Plum Village chant on the Three Jewels. If we feel inspired, we can sing it together on Monday.
I take refuge in the Buddha,
the one who shows me the way in this life.
I take refuge in the Dharma,
the way of understanding and of love.
I take refuge in the Sangha,
the community that lives in harmony and awareness.
Dwelling in the refuge of Buddha,
I clearly see the path of light and beauty in the world.
Dwelling in the refuge of Dharma,
I learn to open many doors on the path of transformation.
Dwelling in the refuge of Sangha,
shining light that supports me, keeping my practice free of obstruction.
Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself,
I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature,
realizing the Mind of Love.
Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself,
I aspire to help all people fully master the ways of practice
and walk together on the path of liberation.
Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself,
I aspire to help all people build Fourfold Communities,
to embrace all beings and support their transformation.