March 16 : Refuge and Clarity

Taking refuge in the Three Jewels means we have decided on our spiritual direction in life as well as our goal; in this case nirvana or complete awakening. And we are clear on who we are trusting to guide us there — the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Deciding which spiritual path to follow clarifies much of the confusion in our life because we finally know what we are doing. 

Part of taking refuge in the Dharma is understanding that both our happiness and our misery originate in our mind. Our experiences are either due to the karma we created through past actions, which were motivated by our mind, or how we are reacting to current situations. Whether our mind is happy or miserable within a given situation depends heavily on our outlook. The purpose of understanding and owning up to this truth is not to beat up ourselves for having bad karma, but rather to recognise that we can do something about our feelings. 

If we find ourselves unhappy, instead of blaming people or things outside of ourselves, we should reflect and ask, “What thought is going on in my mind that is making me unhappy?” Or “What am I holding onto that is making me unhappy?” Taking refuge in the Dharma means knowing our experiences are created by our mind, and by doing this kind of introspection, we can release whatever is making us unhappy or apply the antidote. In this way, we are aware and can care for ourselves in a way that brings happiness to ourselves and all sentient beings we encounter. Taking refuge means having the confidence to work with our mind and applying the methods the Buddha taught to turn things around, so we do not stay stuck in our anger, self-pity or whatever other emotional drama is going on. 

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!