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These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.

JUNE 9 91
If we go into our feelings and needs, for example we want happiness, we want fulfillment, if we can touch base with the feelings of what we need and what we strive to attain, and then with our mind expand outward and see that others are not different in their needs, that just as much as I want happiness and do not want to suffer, that others are similar. If we become more conscious of that, we can broaden our mind to the fact that actually we might be able to help others, and not just help ourselves. And this is a positive way to take one's mind, to bring one's mind into a more positive frame of reference regarding oneself and the world around, the self and it's relationships.
At the bottom line, as long as we are active in the world, we will have relationships with other people. We will be involved with others. And in those relationships, as long as we have a high personal agenda such as I need and I want, as long as we stay in that reference, to that extent we will have suffering. Because, the more we have craving, personal wants, to that extent we are going to have to deal with things not working out, interferences, hindrances towards our wishes being fulfilled. With the experience of those hindrances we can start to identify that it is because we have a strong sense of self grasping.
The original idea is that when we realize that we have needs and wants, if we can realize that others have needs and wants also, and if we can become more conscious of that, it will actually lessen some of the causes of why we suffer. It is important to become conscious that way, because then we will have more happiness and fulfillment in our personal life.
This evening we are talking about refuge again. In the teachings we have gone through the nature of mind, that our human existence is precious and we should try to take advantage of it, that life is impermanent, it moves quickly, and in that way should try to be more conscious that death is an integral part of life. We should become more conscious of this, and not make it negative, but something which is positive and as we live each day, we fully participate in the activities we are involved with. That consciousness which brings death into part of our life can make us very sincere and a very full and real person. So there is terrific quality if you do it the proper way and not dwell on the negative aspects and make yourself miserable and unhappy. But because of the awareness of death, on can become impeccable in the activities of each moment. I am going to be a kind person. I am going to be in the here and now. I am going to be conscious of myself. That is the motivating force of being more aware of one's life process. From there we moved into realms beyond the human realm, the spirit realm and such, and mostly we talked about that in regards to the development of compassion.
For this week, if we do start to become more conscious of ourselves as having freedom and capacity to work and try to attain the realistic goals to our position in life, then we have terrific opportunity. We have the conscious awareness that life is impermanent and should become more real in our life. With a little energy towards getting one's act together, it means you are going to rely on a formula to obtain that. This is the way I am going to do it and the way I am going to do things now because I am becoming more conscious. I am not just going to act my emotions and act out my feelings without conscious awareness. That is not a reliable way to be happy so I am going to become a more conscious entity.
That movement in our mind is looking for refuge. Refuge is a place where we will protect ourself or our mind. The analogy is if you are out on the road and a large rain-storm comes along, you look for a place for shelter. That is a refuge for you and it protects you from the rain. There are many people in the world with bad attitudes, delusions and things they are projecting out into the world. Sometimes they can make our life very confusing. So we need a refuge, something that protects our mind so we can have clarity in our being. That is what refuge is all about.
In Buddhism it is finding a place where we can have a sense of stability about ourselves. We have gone through the recognition of the Buddha or enlightened being, that the Buddha is the guide on the path, that the teachings are the actual path or refuge, and the spiritual community are our friends who help us when we have trouble or not understand things properly. By relying on them, they are the one's who show the path. The actual Buddha is the Buddha Shakyamuni of 2500 years ago. Since then, there have been beings who have gained spiritual attainment or become enlightened, but principally I am trying to say we look to them for inspiration, but not that they are going to do anything for us because that is not the way it works. If it did we have heard about thousands of people getting zapped. But the Buddha lived a quiet life. He must had had a terrific bearing or being about himself, because he affected the whole of Asia. But, for all of the remarkable characteristics of that being, still, people had to undertake their own spiritual practice. They could not just walk up and say, I'm yours, please do it all for me! The Buddha would thank them, and teach them how to sit or meditate. But they had to sit. They had to meditate.
The Jewel of the Refuge, or the Buddha, is the one who shows the path. They are very suitable to rely on because they are fully non deceptive. They do not deceive you or beguile you into some false sense of security. The Buddha said, everything I say should be assessed like gold, tested, weighed. Look at what I teach and ascertain whether it is valid or valuable. Then you can come to your own realizations. In that is power. In that there is the real object of your refuge which is the actual path you are taking.
The Jewel of the Refuge, the Buddha, who is very much worthy of respect and veneration is merely the guide on the path. The actual refuge for ourselves as individuals is our own practice, which is the teachings. One takes the teachings and tries to bring them into perspective in regards to one's own life. The spiritual community are those supportive of your spiritual attempts.
The actual refuge is called the Dharma. There are two facets to the Dharma which need to be developed equally to bring about realization or integration. These are wisdom and method. Wisdom is meant that you take some teachings regarding the nature of reality and delve into them. However wisdom is really applied to the nature of your own mind, how it works with yourself, how your personality, feelings, experiences, and howl you understand them. The ultimate understanding you try to develop within your own mind is the nature of your mind. With that you can gain real wisdom. It is sort of like the actual nature of being. On the other side is the development of method. This is the understanding and appreciation of how to act, how to take what you have understood and make it practical on a day to day experience, which falls within the expression of loving kindness. Method when it is utilized is an expression. Wisdom is an understanding so it is receptive. Having gained understanding, when you manifest back out, there is method. Or when the mind becomes active, there is a need for method. The principle quality you want to method is loving kindness.
Loving kindness does not mean being emotional or soppy. That is not an effective use of method. Although it has to be warm and have moisture, it should not be blind emotion because again we fall back into what we have been doing most of our lives, just responding when someone shows warmth, but grasping to that because we need love in our lives. And then, when things do not work out, then we are angry or pull back and so on. The whole process goes on again. That is blind emotion. We want to develop our own personal self dignity, and into that you then apply that you want warmth. You want those qualities of warmth and tenderness. With those two together, you have the development of your real refuge.
The development of wisdom has a process of first allowing yourself to be relaxed enough that you can be receptive and observe the workings of your own mind and gain understanding about yourself. And secondly you should add the higher teachings on wisdom, for now let's be practical and say, the more you can understand your own mind, the more you have understanding. And wisdom is the capacity to understand, to be able to relax and be observant and see the functions of mind. In doing that, if you were really cold hearted and say, this is the way I am and that is a dumb delusion, I am just going to kick that one out, that is alright. Zen practitioners get into that. They have a very formal way of sitting, and in that there is pure wisdom. But there is not the development of softness and you can get quite a hard practitioner. In that way, if you are very emotional, maybe it would be worthwhile to be more strict with yourself because then you would develop more clear minded ness about yourself. But method does not only apply to the outside world. It should also apply to yourself. We termed it loving kindness. In working with yourself, you should develop a warmth, a capacity to accept the fact that you are deluded.
When you have a delusion arise in your mind, you should look to be able to see beyond it. When you see a delusion arising, you can say, it is not what I need in my life, I don't want to act this one out. You then do not buy into a deluded state. On the other side though, you can have compassion to that mind, thinking that mind doesn't understand what it is seeking. Because it doesn't understand what it is after, therefore thinks this is an important thing to go for. But it really isn't. So you have a sense of compassion about your own delusion. In being able to do that to yourself, you will be able to do that with other's also rather than being a pristine sort of person who is a paragon of virtue, completely unsullied by any delusion. And when another acts out emotionally, they look disdainfully upon them. That would be very insensitive.
So. The development of method and wisdom applies internally as well as externally. Principally wisdom applies to the internal ability to be tranquil and allow various things to go through without clinging to them so we gain better appreciation of the workings of our own mind. Method applies to our own mind in developing the ability to not be too hard on ourselves. But, it should be colored within the light of wisdom. And when moved to the outer world, we should try to have kindness with other people as is suitable to the situation. WE should not let others walk all over us, but we should not be nasty when we say that has gone far enough and now I want to be a little more clear minded.
But the development of our practice is our real refuge. It is the place where we will find fulfillment for ourselves. Becoming a Buddhist or involved with a group does not mean things will be worked out. What works things out is our own inner realization, our own inner practice, our own inner development. And that is the development of the wisdom side and and method side. Together they produce good experiences and stability for ourselves emotionally and in the sense of fulfillment.
We all do seek refuge in one thing or another. When we have trouble, we seek refuge. When we are hungry we seek refuge in food. Our mind does look for solutions. When it comes to our own inner experience, the most suitable point for refuge is to rely on a being who has full enlightenment or understanding of the inner mind. The Buddha has full realization. He does not act out of delusion or to delude us or to take us on a path which won't bring us, ourselves, to inner realization. The real object of refuge is our inner ability. At the time of death our capacity to manifest our understanding is quite important. It is not something that you are going to do then. It is something you have got to have done all your life. At the end of your life you can go into that head space. It is your refuge. It is your practice. And you should be able to say, this practice I have been involved with gives me full comfort to be able to die quite well.
You need to have a practice if you want to feel comfortable at the time of your death. And the practice has to be realistic in the daily activities we have. That is the real refuge.

Copyright 1994  Daka's Buddhist Consulting  All Rights Reserved