Refuge is a State of Mind

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Chenrezig Institute, Australia (Archive #072)

A discourse by Lama Thubten Yeshe at a refuge ceremony held at Chenrezig Institute, Australia on September 12, 1979. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. This talk is now published in the LYWA book Knowledge-Wisdom: The Peaceful Path the Liberation.

Lama Yeshe teaching at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, 1979.

When you take refuge in Buddhadharma, the important point is that you have recognized your own profound potential, and from the beginning can see that, “I can do something; I can take responsibility for liberating myself.” This is different from the attitude we normally have: “I’m hopeless, I’m hopeless; maybe God, maybe Buddha, maybe Lama can do something for me.” This sort of human attitude is wrong. From the Buddhist point of view, it is wrong to think, “I’m hopeless, Buddha can do something for me.” That attitude is wrong because it’s not true. By believing that you are hopeless you have already decided that you are nothing; you have already put a limit on your profound quality. The important thing in taking refuge is to have the understanding that you can do something to solve the problem of everyday life by relying, with confidence and trust, on the Buddha’s wisdom—you can also call it your own activated wisdom—to liberate you from confusion and suffering. So it is really worthwhile. The real significance of taking refuge in Dharma wisdom is that it is the entrance to the path to enlightenment.

That is why, traditionally, people in Buddhist countries take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha every day. But Western people don’t need to copy this, going to the temple daily, taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha without concentration. We don’t need to follow the customs of those countries. What we need to do is to recognize what brings us a liberated, joyful life. Instead of relying on, taking refuge in, chocolate and apples and biscuits and toys, instead of taking refuge in the beach, movies or popcorn, we should understand in our hearts that the liberated joyful life does not depend on those conditions, those worldly phenomena.

The lamrim shows exactly, logically, scientifically that human happiness and joy do not depend on material conditions. You should understand this clean clear and determine that that is reality. Then you will not be upset when you don’t get presents or chocolate or when people don’t pay attention to you. Otherwise, small things always upset you and small things make you dissatisfied. The over-extreme expectation of getting things from the external world makes problems. So, taking refuge in Buddhadharma instead is really worthwhile.

Some people feel that by taking refuge, “I have to remember my lama’s nose, my lama’s head.” That is not necessary. When you take refuge it is not necessary for you to always remember your lama’s nose. Others may feel, “I have to go to the temple every day,” or “I have to say Buddha, Buddha, Dharma, Dharma, Sangha, Sangha, Buddha, Buddha, Dharma, Dharma, Sangha, Sangha every day—if I forget to say those words, I am completely guilty, I am not acting correctly for one who has taken refuge.” It’s not that way either; that, too, is a misunderstanding.

We are not trying to get the Western mind to copy these aspects of Buddhist culture. Westerners should understand that taking refuge is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a plane, in the subway, in a train, in a bathroom or wherever—somehow, you recognize your buddha potential and rely on that inner wisdom to stop the problems of everyday life. Furthermore, you understand that you can deal with these through meditation, through intellectual thinking, or through enacting the six perfections. From my point of view, that kind of thing is good enough, and if you are really taking refuge you don’t need to say the word “Buddha” even once.

And also, ordinarily, when you are depressed, you can ask Buddha for help. By recognizing Buddha’s unlimited wisdom and universal compassion, it helps psychologically. When you remember his universal compassion, when you think of his universal wisdom, somehow, from your side, you open up a little bit. In other words, you just think about the reality of the whole world; you look at what’s going on in the whole world: what’s going on in Africa? What’s going on in America? What’s going on in India? What’s going on? Just by thinking about all the different conditions of human existence, you find, “Somehow, I’m not too bad, I’m not too bad.” So that’s the way of opening up, that’s what being open means. When your mind opens to such a profound universal object, it has space.

It’s the same thing when you remember Buddha’s unlimited compassion, unlimited wisdom and unlimited power. Thus, it is easy to see that taking refuge is not something where you are just relying on words.

Even if you have kind of enormous pleasure, kind of everything coming together, you can’t believe it: “How is it I have so much pleasure? I have this, I have this, I have this; I don’t know how, what kind of fortune I have; everything is coming together for me.” At the same time, instead of becoming concrete inside, concrete and grasping onto this, you think, “Hmm, all this is coming together so easily, yeah, but it’s good that my happiness and pleasure do not depend on this.” [Lama shows material object.] You use your wisdom.

For example, perhaps you have some ambition, “I want this, I want this, I want this, I want this, I want this.” So even if somehow everything you wanted comes to you, if whatever you thought of, all the material things you wanted come together, still you are not too excited: “Well, it is true, it is there, everything has come together, it seems that I can enjoy myself. Hmm. Still, I hope that I can feel satisfied and together without all these things too, that my satisfaction does not depend on all this.” Thus, Dharma wisdom not only liberates you when you are miserable; it also liberates you when you have tremendous pleasure.

We always need Dharma wisdom. Even when you have great pleasure, you need wisdom to really make your mind stable. Normally the Western mind is up and down, up and down, up and down; up and down twenty-four hours a day—maybe a hundred times a day. Westerners believe that these outside things are solid: “That makes me happy. This morning I was happy. Now you say that I am bad, so now I feel terrible.” This is no good, no good. This up and down comes from recognizing neither the inner wisdom that can be relied upon nor the inner ability to liberate yourself. I think you people understand; I don’t need to talk about this too much. We can explain refuge in so many ways. I think you understand.

In the West, so many people are suffering incredibly; you don’t realize. Especially, you are young people, you can do so many things, can’t you? Now, at the moment, you can do so many things—you can travel, you can meet interesting people, you can do this, you can do that, you can do the other. But when you’re old you can’t do those things any more. Automatically, when you merely think about miserable conditions, you become so afraid. However, now you’re training your mind to understand the profound, so when you become older, at that time you will have a better life.

OK. I think you understand what Buddha means. But still, when you have taken refuge, it is good to put a Buddha image in your room or to make a small shrine room. Then, when you simply look at your Buddha Shakyamuni image you can remember his qualities and his history as well. How many times did he sacrifice his body for mother sentient beings? Sometimes he gave his eye for sentient beings; there are many different reasons. Sometimes he gave his leg, sometimes he gave his life. At other times he was a monk but had to marry some woman, so completely gave his life for her. Sometimes he gave his body to the tigers. He did all kinds of things; unbelievable things. He cut the flesh from his leg and offered it to mother sentient beings. At the moment, we can’t do such things.

Actually, people who have studied Madhyamaka might remember the bodhisattva who cut off a limb, piece by piece, and with respect offered it to others. Instead of feeling pain, he felt blissful, completely blissful. This is a good example for us. It’s not that he didn’t have the conditions for pain; his body was a condition for pain, made for pain. But he had the key of mind control, and through his psychic power, the power of his consciousness, instead of pain, he felt bliss.

Normally my guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, uses the following example when he gives teachings. In Tibet we have a lot of beggars; in one day perhaps ten beggars might come before you and say, “Hello, I need something.” Most of the time we give them some tsampa, the Tibetan national food. It’s a kind of muesli, sort of ground roasted barley flour. Some people give the beggars just a little, others give quite a lot. It depends. So Kyabje Rinpoche says when somebody knocks on your door to ask for a little tsampa, you can get a bit irritated, annoyed. But when somebody asks a bodhisattva for a piece of his body, he is completely blissful. The bodhisattva sees this person as a helper: “This person is helping me complete my perfection of charity.” So he is completely blissful. That is his attitude.

When somebody asks us to give them something, instead of having the attitude of wanting to give, we get irritated and angry. But the bodhisattva who has really trained his mind in such a way is blissful: “Because this person is asking me, I can do something. This beggar is helping me develop my path to enlightenment.” So, when he cuts off his flesh, he is completely blissful. Those are good examples and not just stories. Like when Jesus was crucified, he manifested ordinary suffering and a horrible appearance, but actually he must have been totally blissful, giving his body in order to take on the negativities of mother sentient beings. Although outwardly he appeared to be suffering, inwardly he must have been blissful.

You can see that inner progression is so profound, so profound. Another good example in the West is the Christian missionary. Those Christian people are good; they take refuge in God. Somehow they understand that God is responsible for everything, so they go to Africa or some other difficult place to serve others. They are the same as us—do you think they don’t like muesli? They like muesli, they like chocolate, they like cake, but they give all that up and, because of their devotion to God, go to troubled places and accept the suffering in order to help those poor people. I feel they are wonderful. By taking refuge in God, they find within themselves the ability to cope. I think they are profound.

But we Buddhist people, even though we know that if we do an hour’s meditation in the morning the whole day is completely blissful—each of us has had that experience—still, we are lazy, aren’t we? Even though we know clean clear, through experience, not just words, that if we have a good meditation in the morning the rest of the day goes very easily, sometimes we degenerate, we don’t meditate. We forget things. Maybe when you come here to Chenrezig Institute you meditate, but when you go back to Melbourne or Sydney you do less and less, and by the time you’ve reached the middle of Melbourne, it’s completely finished. All that’s left is ice cream. I’m joking!

Anyway, it’s good. We should understand that there are also examples in the West, such as the Christian people. There are some very sincere people and they get something, they get something. So it’s important that we learn to meditate, have some experience and then continuously develop.

Actually, meditation is taking refuge. Meditation is your taking refuge, because inside you have the attitude, “If I meditate, I can liberate myself.” By using Buddhist wisdom and Buddhist method, it is really worthwhile. Otherwise, I myself feel that without recognizing the profound inner ability and having confidence in and relying on that, human beings are useless. Especially in the West, it is very dangerous—we dedicate our entire life to the pursuit of happiness but the result is misery. That’s the story of our lives, isn’t it? So you understand, it is really worthwhile.

Old students, especially, should try to set a good example for new ones. The bodhicitta attitude is to help other sentient beings, and the Buddhist way is just by being a good example to others. That is good enough. Not just words: be a good example and give energy to new people. That is the way in which you help. Otherwise, perhaps you have a fantastic intellectual understanding of the teachings, but if by your behavior you set a bad example, it can’t help; you can’t help other sentient beings.

Anyway, I don’t intend to talk too much, but if you have any questions before taking refuge, please ask. It’s good to make everything clean clear. The subject of refuge is so vast that we can’t possibly cover it completely in a single talk, so if you have any questions, please ask.

Q. What is the difference between Jesus and Buddha?

Lama. According to their appearance on this earth, each of them was relatively different, but absolutely, they were the same. Basically, Jesus taught by his actions of compassion and love—perhaps the Western world needed to be taught that way. When Buddha Shakyamuni came, he taught through his profound speech, showed his enlightened realizations through his actions and demonstrated the function of his omniscient wisdom.

Q. If the Buddha represents one’s higher self and universal wisdom and compassion, does that mean as a woman, I can imagine the Buddha as being female?

Lama. Yes, of course. Definitely, yes. It is very important to understand that even if you are a woman, the profound buddha potential is exactly the same as it is in men, even though relatively the structure of our bodies is different. This is temporal, relative, but when one is controlled, what is the difference? Like Tara—you can see paintings of that female aspect of Buddha. And also, there is no distinction between the length of time it takes men and women to attain enlightenment. It completely depends upon the development of the individual. In tantric yoga we have explanations that even in this life, starting from knowing nothing of inner reality, one can reach the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha—both men and women are equal in their ability to do this.

Q. I would like you to tell us a little about the benefits of taking refuge.

Lama. The benefit of taking refuge is that you liberate yourself, as I said before. Taking refuge in Buddha and Dharma means . . . first of all, what is Dharma? Dharma is wisdom; the clean-clear sharp wisdom, seeing clearly, is the Dharma. And taking refuge means you become Dharma, you become the Dharma wisdom light. Perhaps at first, at the beginning, you are a small candlelight, but by meditating each day the small candlelight is activated and becomes bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger—and then your Dharma wisdom is transformed into omniscient wisdom, totality wisdom. And in the same way, by taking refuge and so on, you increase your compassionate loving kindness. When you increase your loving kindness actions, you liberate yourself from the self-cherishing thought. Then you have no conflict with other human beings. Even if other people come into conflict with you, instead of getting angry you have compassion: “How can I help?” You control yourself. But not like this [Lama squeezes himself up into a tight ball]: “I am controlled, I am controlled.” Relaxed control; easy control. [Lama shows relaxed aspect.] It doesn’t need much effort.

At first, we do need a lot of effort, sort of meditation and effort, but after some time you don’t need this—just your being is meditation; just being is liberated, just being is loving kindness, just being is bodhicitta. It may be difficult at the beginning, but also, I cannot say, “You are a beginner, therefore you should squeeze yourself,” Perhaps you are more advanced than I am, who knows? We never know. The thing is, in Buddhism, we don’t judge, we cannot judge. For example, I cannot say “I am the wisdom man, your teacher—you have to learn from me.” No, I cannot; I can learn from you too; we are helping each other. Even though we are not yet enlightened, each of us has different aspects of wisdom more developed—so you have certain wisdom better than mine and I can learn from you too.

Q. When you take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, you are taking refuge in the higher, pure, clean-clear self. Since the guru is the embodiment of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, is the guru like your clean-clear self also?

Lama. That’s right. Yes. If you understand it in such an absolute way, it is like in Christianity, we have one God. Similarly, the guru is the Buddha, the guru is the Dharma, the guru is the Sangha—you can understand it in that way too. Good.

Q. Could you talk a bit more about refuge in the Sangha?

Lama. There are two levels of Sangha: relative Sangha and absolute Sangha. We are all relative Sangha. I am learning from you people, you are helping. If I have some understanding, if I am receptive, I learn from you people. You people also give me energy. Actually, we give each other energy. Let me make an example. I have the attitude that when I give my students the Vajrasattva initiation, they have to retreat for three months; do a strict retreat for three months. If they do a group retreat, they are almost always successful. But some people say, “Lama, I want to retreat by myself, alone; please let me.” I say, “All right, all right.” You know—what can I say? Baby cries, wants—what can I say? It is not my way to say, to insist, “You have to do it with the group.” Then they would freak out, wouldn’t they? Anyway, I know they would freak out, and instead of their experience becoming positive it would turn out negative. So I have to say, “Yes, yes, yes.” Then, with big eyes, I watch what they are going to do. The result is always disaster; they never finish a good retreat. They always break down and end up neurotic, saying, “Not possible, I get much lung,” and these things. It’s obvious, I understand.

But retreating with a group is always helpful. Let’s say today I’m down, a little bit depressed. My negative mind is questioning, “Ooh, why Vajrasattva? I don’t understand.” Actually, the negative mind doesn’t want to understand, so, “Why are we doing this? We are European people, all these Tibetan trips, Vajrasattva and yab and yum, all these things make me really crazy. Instead of staying here meditating, I want to see my girlfriend/boyfriend.” Anyway, all these ridiculous kinds of minds come out. So then you tell your friend, “I have this happening, I don’t understand.” Then your friend, who may be a bit stronger, says, “Wait a minute, maybe you should think this way,” and tells you something positive. Actually, that person is really the one who brings you up and helps you get yourself together. Then you can control your negative mind a little bit. In other words, we learn from each other, kind of recycle each other, help each other. Really, human beings are so kind, incredible. From the time we were born up to now, sentient beings have been the source of life—our growth and everything. So you can understand the idea of the kindness of mother sentient beings; you can see.

So, we are Sangha: you are my Sangha and I am your Sangha too. We are all Sangha for each other, we help each other. What is the reason, why do we need this? The need is simple. What happens if you stay someplace where you are surrounded by people drinking wine all day, every day, intoxicated every night, with all kinds of activities going on? Say you stay there a year. Every day, they’re giving you teachings: “Drinking wine is very nice, it brings your spirits up; whenever you are lonely, whenever you are depressed, drink some wine.” Then you’re like, “Maybe, yes, today I don’t feel so good, perhaps I’ll have a drink, check it out.” Then you feel, to some extent, for a short time, it helps. For a short time, you can ignore the problem; you become sort of unconscious.

However, I know, most of our students, when they go back to their own home, their old samsaric home, they become a complete disaster. One day they say, “Oh, last night I stayed up late talking with my friends; I can’t meditate this morning.” So they sleep in, and when they get up it’s already lunchtime, so it’s too late for meditation. Then, the next evening, it’s the same old story, “I have to go to a party.” Two days no meditation. That is the samsaric environment—not enough Sangha vibration. Look, we are sick people who cannot stand by ourselves. We need a cane or some other kind of help to stand. We are not yet liberated, so we do need Sangha to help. We definitely need. For that reason, relative Sangha, we are all Sangha.

Now, absolute Sangha. We need a better Sangha, actually; Sangha who understand the inner, absolute quality of reality, nonduality. That is the real Sangha. We are relative Sangha, but we are not perfect Sangha. We can still help each other, but not in the most profound way; not until we discover nonduality. So, we desperately need the help of the absolute Sangha.

Also, you can see, you come here for a meditation course, you know it’s going to be difficult. Most students know it’s going to be difficult: “I’m sure my knees are going to hurt, especially listening to this monk pumping, pumping, pumping, pumping for two or three hours.” A situation in which you have never been before. And then sitting for six hours every day. “Six hours of sitting?”—you can’t even believe that yourself. “I can’t believe it.” I’m sure you could not believe it.

But it’s true, this is the human beauty, the beauty of the human quality. You could not believe it, I tell you. You cannot judge yourself, “I can do, I cannot do.” Human beings can do unbelievable things. Take Milarepa, for example. It seems to us that he was outrageous, doesn’t it? But if we want, we can do exactly what Milarepa did. You can never put any limits on human potential; it is so profound.

So you can see, here we put everybody’s energy together. I’m sure that the spiritual program coordinator sometimes makes you irritated—the SPC is Chenrezig Institute’s police, so sometimes he makes you irritated, telling you, “Please come to meditation, please come to puja. It’s not so nice if you don’t.” Then you’re like, “Why? Leave me alone. I want to be free from you. I don’t want your samsara.” Anyway, you understand.

The thing is that when we meditate, when it’s meditation time, we somehow make it sound a little bit exclusive. I tell the SPCs to use their wisdom and request people to come to puja sort of lightly: “Please come; the others need the help of your energy.” I believe that, too: everybody sitting together, giving each other energy. You could not believe it. I mean, some young guy is sitting in front of you, practicing very sincerely; you’re an old man like me, feeling terrible, your mind going sort of, eerh, so you learn from him: “I have to do better.” As soon as you have decided that you want to do better, you’re starting to get better. If you say at the outset, “I’m hopeless, I don’t care, I’m jealous of these people,” you become worse.

So, we do need Sangha, we do need the help of Sangha, I tell you. I think that most of our Western Dharma practitioners’ problem is that when they go back to their own samsaric nest there is no spiritual support. Everything is delusion, delusion, delusion. I mean, it is obvious. We take all that garbage into our minds, so then it becomes difficult for us.

Until you reach a certain level, you do need that help. If you discover the absolute truth and are on the first bodhisattva bhumi, you don’t need any support. Absolutely, you don’t need any external support. Then you can go anywhere—you can go to Sydney; you can go to Melbourne—you can liberate yourself. Sometimes students come to liberate other people but instead of their liberating others, the others liberate them—to samsara. Even I’m afraid that if I were to stay a long time in the West, Western people might liberate me into samsara—by giving me the chocolate initiation!

Q. When we meditate, is there any structure that we should follow to remind us of the refuge that we have taken?

Lama. Normally, when we take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha before starting a meditation session, we recall the profound wisdom, compassion and power of the Buddha. We recognize that through having developed these three, that totality is Buddha. There is no more significance than that. “That is the Buddha. So, if I actualize, I can develop the totality of these three within myself. Not only me, but all universal living beings.” With this profound remembrance and compassion for all mother sentient beings, we enter the meditation. That is good enough. That is the structure of entering meditation by taking refuge. Thank you, good question.

The formal way of taking refuge is to visualize your father on your right side, your mother on your left, all people who irritate you in front of you, the people to whom you are greatly attached, who you love, behind you, and all universal living beings surrounding you. Then you take refuge in the Buddha, as we do in the lamrim. In that way, when you take refuge, you make everybody take refuge together. Then, from the crown of the Buddha’s head, different colored light rays radiate to each sentient being, purifying each one’s impure body, speech and mind and transforming them into liberated beings. That way of taking refuge is also very good. After that, the Buddha dissolves into you. Thus, you identify yourself with the totality of the Buddha’s nature; you become completely of the nature of the Buddha rather than feeling hopeless. This is very helpful psychologically to eliminate the low opinion and limited view of yourself. So, the first of these methods is sort of instinctive taking refuge; the second one is the formal way of taking refuge.

Q. Is it preferable to meditate at the same time every day? Before, you only spoke about meditation in the morning, but can you do it at night?

Lama. Yes, sure, sure, you can do it. But what is important about the morning is that it is the beginning of the day. When you get up in the morning you have to face the day, you are beginning your activity to enter that day of life. So it is good to think, “Well, fortunately, today I’m alive. I could have died last night.” You don’t want to think that you might have died last night. If you had died last night what would have happened to you? Would you be really upset? Maybe if you died last night, you would be very upset today. I’m joking!

In the Western lifestyle, it is sometimes difficult to have time to meditate in the morning. You can never predict what life is like, so at least for a short time you should think, “Today I have a human life, it is so worthwhile. I am so happy to be alive. So what I should do today is to be as happy as possible myself, control my situation, and help those surrounding me as much as I possibly can.” You just have to think that way for a short time; it is very powerful. If you develop that determination in the morning, even if during the day somebody tries to irritate you, you still have space. And also, meditation does not necessarily mean sitting in the formal meditation posture. You can meditate while you are having your morning shower or while you are traveling by car or bus. Meditation is just thinking the words or remembering the Dharma subject, that’s all.


Now we are going to take refuge, but our approach is a little different from the one I have just explained. This time you visualize the object from whom you are taking refuge in front of you. You are taking refuge from Lama and the higher beings—the buddhas and bodhisattvas—of the ten directions. In front of them you promise or determine that, “From now, until the end of my life, until I reach enlightenment”—make such a powerful kind of determination—“I take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for my inner wisdom to progress. They are what really lead me to liberation. I have discovered that the light of wisdom is the only vehicle that can liberate me from confusion, suffering and ego conflict. So now, instead of taking refuge in chocolate and ice cream, I will really inwardly trust, inwardly completely rely on, the objects of Buddha, Dharma wisdom and profound Sangha, especially in order to transform myself into Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.” In saying this, you recognize their profound qualities.

“Also, I am really fortunate that I don’t have the concrete conception that always takes refuge in and relies on material objects. If I had that kind of belief, it would be extremely disastrous; it would be completely stupid—I would waste my life, making it worthless, absolutely useless. If I were to spend my life believing that ice cream is the source of my happiness, I would be totally stupid. How could I be happy in this life, let alone the next, creating such unbelievably negative karma? Somehow, I am really fortunate that I can understand intellectually really clean clear that if I develop my Dharma wisdom through becoming relative Sangha, I can transform myself into absolute Sangha and gain realizations equal to those of Guru Shakyamuni. It is unbelievable. This is the right approach. It doesn’t matter what kind of life I am involved in—movie star life, nightclub life, whatever. It doesn’t matter to which class I belong; I am never going to give up this profound understanding. This is the most profound and precious thing. It is beyond compare with any kind of Western material pleasure. This awakening totality life of Dharma wisdom is beyond compare. The Dharma is the way to eternal bliss, eternal happiness, enlightenment.”

Then make the determination, “Not only myself.” Visualize on your right side your father; on your left, your mother: “They are so kind, even though sometimes they are mean, telling me that I am not good enough. Actually, in their own way, they want the best for me. Even though my father and mother are ignorant, they want me to become a film star or a millionaire, this kind of thing. They mean well; I cannot blame them. In fact, they want me to be happy and free from miserable situations. Also, it is through their kindness that I have come in contact with Dharma wisdom, the profound wisdom and method of the Buddha. I am grateful to my mother and father for this great good fortune. They are very kind.”

Then, in front of you, visualize your enemy. Of course, normally, we don’t have enemies, but you can put there whoever has irritated you in your life. And behind you, put all the objects to whom you are attached, at whom you grasp.

Finally, visualize that all universal living beings surround you and that you are their leader in taking refuge; you are leading them to refuge. And think with much compassion, “I and all these surrounding universal beings have been confused and uncontrolled for countless lives, and through wrong conceptions have been taking refuge in material atoms, a completely wrong attitude. Who have really eliminated all these wrong attitudes that lead to misery and dissatisfaction? The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Buddha can read my mind; he sees whatever I need and shows the method and wisdom to liberate me. The real, profound liberators are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, so from now until I have completely transformed myself and unified with the Triple Gem, I take refuge.” Your object of refuge is not only Lama, but all the buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats of the ten directions, so make this determination in front of them all.

Then, white light radiates from the crown of the head of each of them and enters your own crown, purifying all your impure thoughts and your blocked, unconducive nervous system so that you can now control your body. Red light radiates from their throats into your throat, purifying your uncontrolled energy of speech. And blue light radiates from their hearts into yours, purifying all your wrong conceptions and fanatical wrong views. At the same time, repeat after me . . .

[Lama performs the refuge ceremony.]

Thank you. It is good that each time you meditate, go for refuge or, actually, do anything else, recall the experience of clarity and just contemplate on that. Even if you are eating, contemplate on that clean-clear experience. That’s good enough.