You know, I really have to stress this refuge. Because many times we forget this refuge. I was so touched when I went to Sri Lanka. First of all for the first time I thought I was in a Buddhist country. You know many people think Tibet is a very Buddhist, of course. You can sort of say, ninety nine percent of Tibetans are Buddhist. Very very kind of hardline Buddhist, you can say. But whether the teaching has really gone inside the mind and the heart of the grass root level of Tibetans I don’t know. And one big part of this is the fundamental basic teachings of the refuge, many times the Tibetans forget. They are all excited with all kinds of things like smoke offering, I don’t know, but all the high stuff, Dzogchen, Mahamudra. Of course one could always argue that they are the ultimate refuge and all of that. But many times the ultimate refuge is so difficult if you don’t have a relative refuge. Sri Lanka when I went there, it is just so beautiful. For instance as a tourist when I went there. You go to this small village monastery and then this temple managers they come to you and they lead you. And the first place, the first spot they lead us is to a Bodhi tree, a tree. That is the most important because it reminds us the enlightenment. Symbolically and all of that. Historically. That is the most important place. Then they say, well have you had enough now? Then we say can we see more. Then only then they bring you to a Stupa. That is fantastic. Stupa. Now if you still want more only then they take you to a temple with a roof and inside where you can sit and do prostrations. It is the opposite in Tibet. First of all I don’t think there is a Bodhi tree in Tibet but – very important I think because temple is so materialistic and worldly, you know, it has a roof. You can change clothes inside there. You understand what I mean, you can change, you can actually be naked if really necessary. So it is a dwelling place. Whereas the Stupa there is no door to go in. There is no toilet. It is just a mount. That is much more, you know, that is much more useless. And then they take you to the tree, that is the absolute useless. Actually, from the temple’s point, from the materialistic point of view, even to this level of mundane even to this kind of mundane level Sri Lanka reflected me this amazing, it is in there sort of. And this I think is very important because it really makes – this is one country that has been really ravaged you know like. This went through so much of problems insides, you know all kinds of war. But I can almost say I never been to a more peaceful, loving, friendly and so gentle people, ever. This I could see it is because of the acceptance of some of these truth I was talking earlier. This small village temple when I went there was two college girls, Sri Lankan, they were there deeply doing some kind of prayers and meditation. So I waited for some time and when they finished I approached one of them and asked. I was incognito so I acted as a non Buddhist. Anyway I prefer that way because I would look really like a Buddhist gangster there because – they are so good. So I asked, what do you pray for. And this village, small college student, girl. I am a Buddhist, we don’t pray for anything. We just pray so that we can follow the Buddha’s truth. The way of the Buddha. Wow. Lots of mixture of feelings in my mind, kind of got a little bit depressed for a day too. Because I was reflecting myself. Refuge, specially in the Theravada tradition, they really have a very good strong tradition of taking practicing the refuge.
Outer, Inner and Secret Refuge, London 2010