Thursday, April 15, 2010

I take refuge in the teachings.

My St. Louis teacher (who lives in Chicago) wrote to me this am: "What a joy to have the support of the precepts with us. Being our intention sets our attention and our attention tells us what to do, how wonderful to have the precepts handy to keep our intentions in line."

When I first read his comment, I was surprised by the shift that occurs when I think of the precepts supporting me (instead of me following them). It is almost to say that they are a being, and I am being held by them. But there is more. Us could be read to refer to our buddha nature, so that what the precepts do is allow one to be who they really are.

Though the precepts are by no means all the teachings of the Buddha, any one of them encapsulates most of what he said. It would be enough, I think, to follow just one of the precepts, broadly interpreted. Some make the point that though the teachings came from the Buddha, he did not invent them, but rather discovered them. They are laden with wisdom because he saw how supportive they are.

Refuge suggests "back to the source." As an artist takes refuge in design, a Buddhist takes refuge in basic truths that come when one slows down and listens. Buddha could have said, "just listen—not to me, but to your experience."

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