Sunday, December 11, 2011

Taking Refuge by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Buddha taught that there's a very safe place we can come back to, no matter where we are and anytime we want.  That place is the island of our true self.

Within ourselves there is a safe island we can come back to, where the storms of life cannot shake us.

One of the Buddha's most widely quotes phrases is attadipa saranam, which means taking refuge (saranam) in the island (dipa) of self (atta).

When you come back to your mindful breathing, you come back to yourself, and you touch the safe island inside of you.  In that place you find your ancestors, your true home, and the Three Jewels.
The Three jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings and the way to understanding and love), and the Sangha (our spiritual community of friends who support us on our path).

Breathing mindfully, you are already finding a refuge in your breath, and you become aware of what's going on in your body, your feelings, your perceptions, your mental formations, and your consciousness.

Mindful breathing brings all the different aspects of yourself back together as one. As you breathe, your body, your feelings, your perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness all connect with that breathing, just as if you were to lift your voice in song and everyone in your family would stop their chattering and listen! The breath calms and unifies your body and mind and harmonizes your person.
In that moment, the island of your true elf is manifesting as a safe space.

Being an island unto myself,
Buddha is my mindfulness, shining near, shining far.
Dharma is my breathing, guarding body and mind.
I am free.
As an island unto myself,
Sangha is working in harmony.
Taking refuge in myself, coming back to myself,
I am free.
Breathing in, breathing out,
I am blooming as a flower,
I am fresh as the dew.
I am solid as a mountain,
I am firm as the Earth.
I am free.
Breathing in, breathing out,
I am water reflecting what is real, what is true'
And I feel there is space deep inside of me.
I am free.
You can practice with this verse in times of difficulty and danger, when you need to keep your cool to know what to do and what not to do.  

The presence of mindfulness is the presence of the Buddha illuminating the situation, so you can know what to do and what not to do.

With the Buddha, the Dharma, ad the Sangha protecting you, you have nothing more to fear.
In this calm and focused state, you will know what actions to take in order to stabilize the situation.

There can be no greater security than that. Even facing death, we can die peacefully.
--Thich Nhat Hanh--

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