yearly before our Summer Retreat we review what going for refuge to the three jewels means. In this Talk Christopher Kakuyo talks about taking refuge in general and more specifically regarding taking refuge in the Buddha.  As westerns we seem to have a challenge taking refuge in the Buddha. This may be because of our Post Religious' Stress Disorder. We embrace the Dharma and even the Sangha, but the Buddha we keep at arms length, lest he becomes some sort of deity.  Christopher thinks, that by doing this we are doing a disservice to our practice. 

 

EXCERPT

By keeping this distance from the Buddha, we miss out on something; we miss out on the Buddha's personality, temperament, and example.

We miss an intimate human connection to one of the most fully and realized humans. 

I struggle with this. 

There are times that I feel so connected to the historical Buddha and or the mythic Buddha Amida, that I find tears in my eyes when washing the statue'd face of the Buddha. I have found that my practice is easier and more natural during these times. I am easier to get along with, and when I feel disconnected from the Buddha, or the Buddha feels like nothing more than some dusty figure of history, my practice becomes more challenging if I am practicing at all. 

I appreciate this from Subhuti, a Buddhist teacher in the Tritania order. Subhuti writes about re-imagining the Buddha and how we need to try to imagine the Buddha and his Enlightenment in a way that intellectually and emotionally stirs us.  

Why emotionally? 

Our practice is not just a practice of the mind but the heart-mind. In Chinese kanji, the symbol for heart and mind are the same; there exists no independent thought without accompanying feeling, no distinct feeling without thought, and no compassion in the absence of intellect—in short: no heart without mind or mind without heart. Our connection to the Buddha is intellectual and emotional at the same time so that we can mobilize our energies to Go for Refuge to him, to his teachings and example. How do we do that for us who have and will be taking refuge in the Buddha? He writes, 

"We can only imagine the Buddha wholeheartedly by discovering his image in our minds, inspired and supported by the images around us. Images of this kind cannot be ordered or devised. They must live and grow and, like plants, they must emerge from their own natural environments: the psyches of the individuals in which they appear

 

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