Refuge, ???, refuge, as much refuge again in the english word refuge can be, we may have overused it again. Refuge, among many other things, refuge has a connotation of acceptance. Acceptance. Because generally refuge is like surrendering. Like if you are afraid of getting burned by the sun then you take refuge under the umbrella. But ???, or the Buddhist practice of refuge has more the connotation of acceptance. Acceptance. For instance, no matter what, no matter what, all compounded things are impermanent, ???. No matter what all compounded things are impermanent. That was spoken by the Buddha that is why it is called the teaching, the dharma. But whether it is spoken by the Buddha or not, doesn’t matter, in the Prajnaparamita Sutra Buddha said, ???, whether the Buddha have come or not, the reality of the phenomena doesn’t change. All compounded things are impermanent. This fact or this truth, if you can accept, that’s actually really, the actually sort of real or I don’t know how should I put it, that’s actually taking refuge. When you can accept that. That is on the much more profound level.
If you can accept, yes all compounded things are impermanent, I can accept that. Is it logical, that is really true, it is not going to change. Similarly all stained emotion leads you to pain. All phenomena have no inherently existing nature. Nirvana is beyond extreme. All of that. To know the suffering is important. To abandon the cause of suffering is important. There is a path to abandon the cause of suffering. There is actually a cessation of suffering. Accepting that truth is actually what taking refuge to the Dharma means.
Of course symbolically, you we can even do a Buddhist text into the shrine and do prostrations, bow down to it, make offerings of flowers and incense. That is what we can do, we deluded beings, we, those who are so light up on symbols. We have to do that way. But if you were to choose, which one is better, making offerings of flowers every day to a Buddhist text such as Prajnaparamita, every day you offer a flower. Or you think about the Prajnaparamita’s meaning for one moment. Buddha himself stated many many times, one moment of dwelling in the meaning of the Prajnaparamita is like billion times much much much better than feeding the thousands and millions of Buddhas for many many many years. You have heard this many times if you read the Vajracchedika Sutra, Avatamsaka Sutra, Lankavatara Sutra. This goes on.
When we say chö la kyab su choi, really important the word taking refuge is not really misunderstood as if the Dharma is like a all mighty manager. Some kind of a dictator who is sitting up there, who you will, you should please him otherwise you will not reborn in the heaven or something like that. You should never think – I am sure you don’t, if you do you should join another club.
This accepting the fact is primarily what is called refuge.
Now Buddha, okay. Buddha is, taking refuge to the Buddha. Again. Since this is a Mahayana teaching I will be talking more like a Mahayana, more from the Mahayana point of view, of course. When we take refuge to the Buddha, the ultimate object of the, ultimate Buddha, ultimate Buddha is not limited by Buddha was born in Lumbini. Buddha was not born in Manhattan. Buddha was an Aryan. Buddha had blue eyes. Buddha didn’t have wet locks. Stuff like, you know like, these kind of limitation is created by human mind. We do have a historical Buddha but the ultimate Buddha is none other than three kayas. And specially within the three kayas, if you, I mean they are equally, they are inseparable, but if you, just for the sake of communication, if you really want to point out what is the real Buddha, then of course is always referred as, it always stated that the dharmakaya Buddha is the real Buddha. Or the ultimate Buddha. And then if you were to ask where is this dharmakaya Buddha, where is he? Where can we see him? What nationality, what kind of passport does he hold? Dharmakaya Buddha is non other than the buddha nature that we always talk about. Where is this buddha nature? It is non other than the essence of your mind. So that fact, that truth, if you can accept, then you are actually, that is the ultimate way of taking refuge to the Buddha. Of course again, like the Dharma we put the text on the shrine, just like that, we do have a method and skills of remembering this innate, this inner Buddha, in order to remember this, we make statues, paintings, build monasteries. We have paintings of the Buddha. We have, you know more and more we have as the time gets degenerated, it is believed that I don’t know, I read it somewhere, that until, the Buddhist history is always very blur, but there is an account that actually in the past even like during the Morias time, which is around Ashoka’s time, there was actually no Buddha statue. The figure of the Buddha was much discouraged. In the ancient museum, the museums, the ancient symbol of the Buddha are a throne with bodhi tree behind the throne. Actually you can see this kind of symbols which represents the Buddha’s enlightenment. And then there is a throne, a small throne with a deer next to it, and the dharmachakra, the wheel, which represents Buddhas teaching. And a long throne, I mean something like a bed, with another symbol which I forgot, I cant tell you, which represents the parinirvana. These, so the form Buddha again is necessarily for people like us. Please don’t, now that you have heard the Buddha dharmakaya stuff, don’t deceive yourself thinking I don’t need any of these statues, I don’t need to prostrate to these statues. You end up doing nothing, you will end up not surrendering to the Buddha dharmakaya, and you have just auction out your Buddha statue. That way you will end up nothing. So sell out I should say it. Accepting this Buddha is basically the ultimate form of taking refuge to the Buddha.
So that is taking refuge to the Buddha Dharma, and the Dharma.
And then the Sangha, another very important. If you want to know about the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha and its evolution so to speak, why there is only three, why can’t we have four, why not five, why only two. It is almost like, there are arguments, Buddha I understand, Dharma I understand we should take refuge. But what is Sangha doing there? What is Sangha doing there? If you really want to understand this, you should study Uttaratantra of Maitreya. He has given us amazing, shlokas after shlokas explanations why the triple gem is necessarily. I don’t think we have much time to discuss at this point but anyway, Sangha actually is the most tangible, and most visible, or must touchable so to speak, the path.
Okay. The triple gem, so called Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, is actually a path language. It is a path language. Someone who needs enlightenment needs path. If you have the path then you have to have a character of the path. So Sangha is the most tangible, touchable. See you cant really call Buddha so to speak and ask him a question or something like that. Dharma, yes, you can maybe read a book and stuff like that but, lets say you are very angry person. You have an aggression problem. You can’t really carry a Mahakaruna Sutra, you know compassion, love Sutra, inside your pocket and expect that it is going to help you. I am sure it helps to a certain extend but this text is not going to talk. You have to really, It is you, you have to really engage. So I am giving you a very crude, very kind of very sort easy to understand kind of example. So therefore Sangha is someone who is kind of, has the element of human, or someone to talk to, or someone to communicate with. And of course we are not only talk about the Sangha like human ordinary Sangha. We are talking about, actually the ultimate Sangha are ???, the Mahayana bodhisattvas, those who have reached bhumis, they are considered the Sangha, or also the arhats, those who have already entered into the stream, they can also referred at some point, at certain point they can also be referred to as Sangha. So basically they are the support. They are big element of the path. So therefore we take refuge to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha in order to establish this notion of the path.
[at the next day of the teaching Rinpoche mentioned: Even so I told you yesterday, I think I made a mistake by saying the real buddha is the dharmakaya. I think, even so there are many debates, maybe I should say sambhogakaya.]