All Buddhist traditions invite taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. These Three Jewels provide a focus for commitment and reflection. In daily life, we are constantly looking for safety, refuge, in something—whether it is our ambition, career, house, money, neuroses or relationship.
In what do you find safety?
Working on the level of “I” or “me,” as a person trying to be free from desire, anger or confusion, might help to deal with this material world, but our practice is then not transcendent. Contemplating the Three Jewels, assumptions based on self view can be relinquished. Do these refuges exist in their own right, or are they suggestions to the mind to realize transcendent reality?
Having faith and confidence in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, our practice is not idealized as something to be attained in the future, or a method for psychological release. Rather, such confidence points to the transcendent in the here and now. Helping us to develop devotion, these Refuges are tools for sacred mindfulness, rather than for ungrounded belief.
In our society, tradition and devotion are seen as simple minded belief or superstition, rather than a doorway to the sacred. Our task is to develop our relationship with these symbols out of wisdom, with our own energy and intelligence, supporting the actual practice of the teaching.
The Three Jewels invite us to use them as a doorway to the Dhamma, for recollection, mindfulness, wisdom and kindness.
Where do you find ultimate safety? In what do you take refuge?