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Friday, October 05, 2007

Taking Refuge in the Buddha

NOTE: I am not a Dharma teacher, a "guru" or Buddhist master but am a simple lay person and the following thoughts are mine and mine alone. I firmly believe that we must work out what we believe for ourselves. That being said, it can be helpful to hear other peoples' opinions and it is my hope that this post will do that to some degree. Please, do not take it as some kind of dogma or doctrine, it is simply my understanding of one aspect of Buddhism.

We constantly hear about taking refuge in the Buddha but what exactly does that mean? Well, the word Buddha literally means "awakened" in sanskrit. Therefore when we take refuge in the Buddha, perhaps we aren't necessarily taking refuge in the historical Siddhartha Gautama. I'm not saying that if you do take this refuge literally that you are somehow "wrong" but I'm simply putting forth the conclusion that I have reached.

For me, taking refuge in the Buddha doesn't mean that in doing so the Buddha will protect us from harm, the Buddha was not a "God." It seems to me, rather that when we take refuge in the Buddha we are actually taking refuge in the present moment. As Buddha means "awakened" we are taking refuge that being awake and aware in the present moment will aid us in realizing peace with our surroundings and the world around us. This greatly reduces suffering.

The other aspect of this for me is that I see taking refuge in the Buddha to mean that we take refuge in the Buddha within us. It is reminding my duality loving ego/mind that I am interconnected with all beings throughout space and time and that includes the historical Buddha. It brings me peace that my True Nature is a beautiful, peaceful Buddha. For me, such a realization brings me great comfort and motivation to cultivate and maintain the pure awakened state of awareness that defines Buddhahood.

Just a few Friday insights from the mind of the one that they call James

~Peace to all beings~


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Wade M said...

Hi James,

Thanks for your post, as always.

The other thing I see as taking refuge in the Buddha to be is in our own Buddha Nature. Sort of the same as the interconnectedness, but to me is slightly different. Prostrating to my potential and that same potential in all other beings.

May all beings be happy, May all beings be safe, May all beings have peace.


Gary said...

Hello, James.
Yes, taking refuge in the Buddha is taking refuge in awakening, or the 'awakened mind.' Being clear and present when reciting the Three Refuges is a wonderful act that is simply committing attention to the present moment.

At the same time, although the Buddha is no god, and we aren't praying to him as such, we can take refuge in his example, in his life and actions (as far as we know what they were).

Thanks for the great insight,
Gary at Forest Forest Wisdom.

Greenwoman said...

I agree with your viewpoint in what taking refuge actually means...nicely said.

Kuan Gung said...

Taking refuge in compassion...I've always enjoyed the simplicity of's the art of listening...

jack said...

An aspect of refuge that is meaningful to me is that of taking refuge in truth -- a spot of clear, sane quiet in a carnival world of delusion.

Anonymous said...

Hello James
Thanks for making this blog.
I am also telling you a good web site on Lord Buddha.
They are doing work in buddhist place for betterment of buddist people. why r u not wrighting on


Anonymous said...

This is an incredible video of a WWII pilot Reincarnated as a child. This is solid proof of Rebirth.

They call him James Ure said...




Greetings (bowing).

You are right that we are also taking refuge in his example.


Thanks!! It's something that I've meditated upon for awhile now and I have come to this balanced, middle-way insight.

It may not be what others discover as insight but it helps me on my path to better understand how taking refuge can help me so I go with my experience as the Buddha taught to do. Come to conclusions based on your own experience.

Kuan Gung:

Taking refuge in compassion is another beautiful way of putting it. And I too love the simple yet profound and strength of the Dharma.


Yes, insight is so important for our path. The great diamond that cuts through all defilements.

Anonymous #1:

I'll check out the website. :)

Anonymous #2:

Thanks for the link. I'll watch it soon.

They call him James Ure said...

Anonymous #1:

I am adding that website to my links.

Carla said...

Hi James,

I just discovered your blog and think you are doing a great job with it. I enjoyed the short clip about American Buddhism...too bad it couldn't have been a little more in depth!

I also agree with your thoughts on taking refuge. Do you use the 'Taking Refuge' chant from Plum Village Recitations? 'Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself, I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature...'?

I have a brand new blog myself. I would be honoured by a visit from you!

They call him James Ure said...


Thank-you for your kind words regarding the blog. I am always humbled by the response it has garnered.

I don't do that particular chant but I am going to order the Plum Village Chants book and will probably incorporate it into my refuge practice. I do now take refuge, however, in a similar way.

Carla said...

Hi James,

I have the Chanting Breath by Breath CD and the Chanting from the Heart book. I chant along with the Heart Sutra (Heart of Perfect Understanding) from this CD every day. (Actually, it's more like singing than chanting). What I like about Plum Village chanting is it's been designed for a Western sensibility. The chants are in English and have more Western sound. Feels familiar. Although I have a recording of Imee Ooi singing the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit and am working on learning it. It's beautiful!

Have you read Thay's commentaries on the Heart Sutra?

They call him James Ure said...


I have seen and heard some of that CD and would like to purchase one for myself. As well as the book.

I love the Heart Sutra but I haven't heard too many of Thay's commentaries on the sutra.

Maryla said...

Thank you for making me look at this for myself. When I go for refuge to Buddha, essentially I am going for refuge in those qualities of a Buddha to which I aspire - the infinite wisdom, love, compassion, patience, fearlessness, etc. Knowing that I also have those potentialities myself, I can take comfort.

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah it is a wonderful comfort. It always helps me feel happy and peaceful. It is a wonderful understanding and realization. I'm happy that you enjoyed the post. :)


Sofan said...

Hello James,

A very nice point of view. I'm glad that I was able to find your blog. Keep up on writing inspiring blog posts.

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