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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
48 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 4 our unhappiness is off balance, that it’s not our true self, and that it can be alleviated. Our bud- dhanature does that. It’s like an internal compass that keeps our direction set toward contentment, no matter how much anguish or pain we endure. Some people interpret buddhanature as a kind of object. It almost takes on the quality of material matter, and our metaphors might contribute to this misunderstanding. When we speak of buddhanature as a diamond or as an internal compass, it might sound like a physical organ, such as the heart or lungs. But it’s not like that. It’s more like mustard oil that thoroughly suffuses every particle of a mustard seed, but becomes evident only when the seed is pressed and the coarse matter eliminated. The oil was never separate from the seed, nor did it occupy a specific location within the seed. We obtain oil through refinement, or we might say through purification, yet what we get was always there. In the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, I Take Refuge Taking refuge in the three jewels expresses the most fundamental connection to Buddhism. Having confronted the limitations of samsara, we are ready for a change. We cannot renounce the temptations of samsara all at once, but this vow helps steady our intentions. It reminds us of what is true, both in the world and in ourselves. Taking Refuge in the Buddha The outer meaning of taking refuge in the Bud- dha refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, the histori- cal Buddha who lived in India. We call him the awakened one, the one who has gone beyond all dualities and concepts, beyond all forms of confusion and suffering. His enlightenment and his teachings continue to inform all Bud- dhist schools and practices. Yet in whom did the Buddha himself take refuge? We know that the Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana, sought protection in political power and social stand- ing. We know that the king’s attempts to keep his son bound to the householder life through sensory enticements did not work. Slipping past the palace guards, Siddhartha embarked on the into opportunities. We learn how to relate to difficulties in a new way, and this protects us from confusion and despair. Traffic jams do not disappear, but we might not respond by leaning on our horns or swearing. Illnesses may afflict us, but we might still greet the day with a joyful appreciation for being alive. Eventually we rely on the best parts of our being in order to protect ourselves from those neurotic tendencies that cre- ate dissatisfaction. This allows for living in the world with greater ease and without needing to withdraw into untrustworthy circumstances in order to feel protected. Outer and Inner Refuges We work with two kinds of refuge: outer and inner. With outer or relative refuge, we see the Buddha, dharma, and sangha as being outside of ourselves. This duality definitely offers more reliability than conventional refuges, but with limited benefits. As long as the Buddha is some- where other than in our own heart and mind, we won’t see the true buddha—the empty clarity of our own pure awareness. The inner refuge helps us make the leap from the buddha outside to the buddha inside. With inner or absolute refuge, the duality between outer and inner dissolves. Ultimately we rely on ourselves, on our own buddhanature, and on our own awakened qualities. Purification is the process of making these qualities more acces- sible so we can integrate them with our daily life. With practice, we recognize in ourselves the very buddha in whom we take refuge. This is the essence of practice. Wanting to take refuge is itself an indication of buddhanature. We take refuge to be happier, to be free from suffering, and to feel more secure and stable. Why do we say that this wish itself reflects buddhanature? Because we never accept suffering as the normal or natural human condition. What- ever the degree of our unhappiness, this longing arises to be free of it. Where does this longing come from? How can we account for our deep sense that liberation from dukkha is possible? The answer is our own intrinsic wisdom. Noth- ing else explains why we intuitively know that YONGEY MINGYUR RINPOCHE is a meditation master in the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and is currently practicing as a wandering monk in India. This teaching is adapted from his new book, Turning Confusion into Clarity, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov, forthcoming from Snow Lion in July. CORTLANDDAHL