Apr 13, 2019
Everyone looks for refuge or relief from their pain. This is natural, but when we turn to the wrong types of refuge it causes us more problems. For example, when people turn to drugs or alcohol for refuge from suffering, sometimes they become addicted and a host of problems follow. If we eat ice cream to relieve our anxiety, this is an incorrect refuge because it does not solve our difficulty. The sign that we are turning to the wrong objects for refuge is that it does not relieve our suffering (and often causes painful complications). What can we turn to for refuge from the daily storms of pain? In the following words of Buddha, he points to three objects of refuge that can help people relieve their suffering: Buddha as an example and a teacher; Dharma (the teachings) that truly solve our problems; and Sangha (community) that help us along the path.
Like someone pointing to treasure
Is the wise person
Who sees your faults and points them out.
Associate with such a sage.
Good will come of it, not bad,
If you associate with one such as this. (76)
Let one such as this advise you, instruct you,
And restrain you from rude behavior.
Such a person is pleasing to good people,
But displeasing to the bad. (77)
Do not associate with evil friends;
Do not associate with the lowest of people.
Associate with virtuous friends;
Associate with the best of people. (78)
One who drinks in the Dharma
Sleeps happily with a clear mind.
The sage always delights in the Dharma
Taught by the noble ones. (79)
Irrigators guide water;
Fletchers shape arrows;
Carpenters fashion wood;
Sages tame themselves. (80)
--Buddha, The Dhammapada
The Dhammapada, by Buddha. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 20-21
Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Je Tsongkhapa, Volume 1. Pages 297-301. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.