Brother ChiSing: I'm so grateful, that I found this practice. I am so
grateful that I found, the Dharma. I'm so grateful to be able to take
refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
One time I had a dream, and in this dream I was in a beautiful
church. And I knelt before the altar and I prayed, and I asked God, in
this dream, "Dear God, if you are the perfect creator—then that means
that you can only create perfect creation. So if that's the case, why
do you allow me to mess up so much? Why do I mess up so much?
How is this possible—how can this be!" [Laughter]
And in the dream, I heard the voice of God speaking softly in my
heart, and it said "It's because, my child, I have a sense of humor!"
[Laughter] Anyway, that was a wonderful dream for me.
So many times in my life, I look and I see all the different trial and
error mistakes I make. And I don't know what I would have done without
this practice, this refuge. So I am very grateful.
According to the Buddha's teachings, especially from the Theravadan
tradition, from their point of view, there are four stages of
enlightenment. The Stream-Enterer, the Once-Returner, the
Non-Returner, and the Arahant; but I am not really so concerned about
the last three, because, to me, they are just so far advanced.
I just want to be concerned with the "Stream-Enterer". The first stage
of enlightenment, and according to the Buddha's teachings in the
Theravadin tradition, it's very simple to realize the first stage of
enlightenment. To enter the stream of enlightenment only requires
taking refuge in the Buddha, taking refuge in the Dharma, taking
refuge in the Sangha, and practicing the five mindfulness trainings
but doing them fully with all our heart, with our deepest commitment,
and diligently throughout our life.
So, perhaps, if you think that full enlightenment is a little bit too
daunting, well how about just the first stage of enlightenment, just
entering the stream of non-retrogression? Where, from that point
forward, you never go backwards ever again. Just always forwards,
towards full enlightenment.
So, whether you want to take that literally or metaphorically, I think
the point of this teaching is that "you can do it." It's not as hard
as you think. It just takes practice, and it takes the willingness to
commit, and to fully receive the support of the enlightened teachers,
the enlightened teachings and practices, and all those who are in the
community with you, supporting you, and you supporting them in the
If I didn't have refuge, I would give up pretty easily. Without
refuge, you're just like a little drop of water, as I've shared
before. You can evaporate so easily by yourself. But by taking refuge,
you join your little drop of water with many, many, other drops of
water—creating a mighty river on the path of enlightenment that
cannot be stopped.
So if you're in an anxiety mind state, or a depression mind state, or
a peaceful mind state, or an anger mind state, or a blissful mind
state—whatever your mind state is: keep practicing and keep taking
refuge, through all of it.
You know, there is so much different terrain along the way. It's not
all mountain peaks [Laughs]. There are valleys and there are crags,
and there are all kinds of confusing labyrinths and forests and all
that just using that metaphor. There is even a plateau of dry desert
on the path, but if you take refuge—you can get through it.
Especially in my life, when I have gone through the dry spots in my
practice where "Gosh, there doesn't seem too much bliss right now, and
there doesn't seem too be much peace, not even much wisdom." And yet I
still take refuge. I take refuge. I take refuge.
That's the only way I know how to get through all the different parts
of our life journey, is to just keep taking refuge.
Now in the Zen tradition and some other traditions we also say "Not
only do I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha" but
also "the Buddha takes refuge in me, the Dharma takes refuge in me,
and the Sangha takes refuge in me". That might sound a bit
sacrilegious. But the deepest truth is that who you truly are is
Buddha, is Dharma, and is Sangha.
So all other beings, who are enlightened, they need you because we are
all needed, all together, without one single being lost. All of us
together are needed to have a full manifestation of Buddha, a full
manifestation of Dharma, a full manifestation of Sangha. If even one
being is left out, we are not complete. So all of us are necessary,
and all of us are the Infinite Light, the Infinite Love, and the
So thank you for being who you are. Amitabha.
Ven. Tashi Nyima: Just very briefly, for those of you who took
refuge or renewed your refuge: This is, in the most fundamental sense,
the practice, that we do throughout our entire spiritual
cultivation, taking refuge.
But taking refuge, very often, we misunderstand it to be going to some
external agent for protection. That is not the meaning
of refuge in the teaching of the Buddha. It means going to your
true self, going to your Buddha nature, going to your natural
perfection for refuge.
"Going to the Dharma [for refuge]", means going to the light that is
already in you. That is the nature of your mind: it is pure, it is
clear, it is luminous.
"Going to the Sangha for refuge", means that you are approaching and
joining the assembly of the noble ones who have already conquered the
illusion and the ignorance of duality.
So this is the practice of spirituality: Going for refuge to the
Buddha, to the Awakened One within; going to the Dharma, to the
reality as it is, and going to the Sangha, to the community— The
absolute unity of all sentient beings in one great life, one great
light, and one great love.
So what you've done today is, if you pursue this fact— what you will
do every day. It is no different. We are not hunting for "higher
teachings". This is the highest teaching, going for refuge in your
OM AMIDEVA HRIH (x10)
Brother ChiSing: I also want to say that tonight on 11/11, it
is forty days and forty nights before the Winter Solstice. And many
people are using this Winter Solstice as a symbolic date to make a
commitment to helping to renew the earth, to help all beings on this
planet to awaken. And so "practice" — I encourage you to start
today, practice for forty days and forty nights. Really take refuge
and really commit to helping the planet to awaken.
Let's all do this together; however you interpret the 12/21/12 date,
it really doesn't matter. We are just being playful with the date. So
let's use this time, this next 40 days as a deep time of commitment to
the practice of our spirituality.