Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Buddhists do not take refuge in people, places, or things, but in the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. To ‘take refuge’ may refer to the ceremonial act of becoming Buddhist by taking refuge vows. In another context, it may refer to anyone who has chosen to put their healing in the hands of a spiritual path versus seeking relief in worldly objects.
A refuge is a shelter, a safe place that protects us from danger and the sufferings we normally experience. Without a spiritual path, we seek to alleviate our suffering through worldly means, and we only find more suffering. In taking refuge, we admit the hopelessness of this unsatisfactory approach, and we come for shelter when we understand, through our experience, that the mundane, no matter how hard we try, cannot and does not offer us lasting solutions.
To accomplish anything in life requires a serious commitment, and if we want to take Buddhism as our path and base our life on Buddhist principles, then we should make some form of commitment.
That commitment concerns learning how one can lead a more useful life and how one can help to create a more positive society. Consequently, we make a commitment to Buddhism as our spiritual path, and we enter the path for both our self-development and for helping other sentient beings. Therefore, this “commitment” is more like a resolution that one makes to study (i.e., to learn and realize the true nature of phenomena). Consequently, “Taking Refuge” is a serious commitment and is something that one shouldn’t do casually.
Taking refuge has a great benefit because we cannot become lazy. It also guides us and protects us from negative emotions, protecting us from negative feelings and experiences. “Taking Refuge” will channel our energies toward positive feelings, and this is always useful. So, to take refuge is to commit to walking a single path and following it to the end. We vow to work on ourselves without being sidetracked. The three jewels become our refuge, and they are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
They are jewels because each is an immeasurably valuable part of the Buddhist path. The Buddha is not meant to be lauded as a God or savior but as a fellow human being, and to take refuge in the Buddha jewel is to understand that as human beings, we have the same potential. The Dharma represents the vast thousand-year-old teachings of the Buddha, which offer us a roadmap to follow along the path. When we take refuge in the Dharma, reality becomes our greatest teacher. If we see everything as an opportunity for learning and growth, everything we experience becomes usable on our path toward freedom. The Sangha refers to our companions on the path. Traditionally, the noble Sangha is comprised of monastics, bodhisattvas, and other enlightened beings, but the Sangha can also be understood as the community of like-minded others who, just like us, are awake to their pain and the futility of worldly solutions and are open to taking a different path. The Sangha offers us support and inspiration and serves as a mirror through which we may receive feedback about our progress on the path.
Please indicate your intention to attend this and other teachings/initiations by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 317-283-6781 or by using the registration form on our website (www.dgklbuddhistmonastery.org) under the program tab.
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