Happy Dakini Day!
“In order to explore our buddha-nature and journey toward enlightenment, we must understand the meaning of taking refuge. To take refuge daily is the most essential practice in all the schools of Buddhism. The Tibetan word for refuge is chab, which means “protection” and implies feelings of closeness, warmth, and trust toward the Buddha, his teaching, and those who are devoted to making the teaching a living experience. The Indian Dzogchen master Vimalamitra said:
When we clearly know the suffering of samsara,
As well as the qualities of enlightened beings,
We can go for refuge.
Discouraged by samsaric situations and an unstable mind, we learn to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. As Chandragomin teaches in his Seventy Verses on Refuge:
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Are the supporters of those who seek liberation.
Taking refuge in them
Brings freedom from suffering.
Taking refuge can be seen as returning to our home, to the essence of who we really are. We have become confused through our dualistic actions and separated ourselves from our true nature. Of course, we can come and go as we please, yet once we have taken refuge, we will finally arrive at our permanent address. Knowing our true home inspires great confidence and freedom from hope and fear.
Each of us has buddha-nature. But this cause alone cannot develop the result of enlightenment; it needs supporting conditions. By taking refuge, we invite the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha to be conditions for our path. Just as a seed will not develop without the necessary conditions of moisture, heat and sunlight, similarly the seed of our buddha nature needs the assistance of the three jewels. As given in The Ten Dharmas Sutra:
Those without devotion will not have realization,
Just as a seed that is burnt will not grow.
We should take refuge with deep devotion, joy, and confidence. This is the spirit of taking refuge. It is as Guru Rinpoche says:
Without confidence in devotion
The blessings of the three jewels are far from you.
When the great master Atisha came to Tibet in the 11th century, he recited the refuge formula continuously and offered this teaching to many Tibetans. People called him the “Refuge Teacher,” and some thought this was all he knew. But long before Atisha came to Tibet, he was a great scholar at Vikramashila, a monastic university that was comparable to Nalanda. The reason he focused on taking refuge was because of its importance in establishing a firm foundation for practice.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating The Path: Ngondro Instructions According to the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism (pgs 80-85)
The Buddhist Path (pg 23-25)
The Three Vows of Foundational, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism
by Ngari Panchen
with commentary by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche
by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Year 1: Foundational Buddhism
Lay Vinaya Vows
The three sets of vows (Skt. trisaṃvara; Tib. སྡོམ་གསུམ་, dom sum; Wyl. sdom gsum) are:
1. vows of pratimoksha or of individual liberation (Tib. སོ་ཐར་གྱི་སྡོམ་པ་, sotar gyi dompa)
2. bodhisattva vows (Tib. བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྡོམ་པ་, changchub sempé dompa)
3. samayas of the secret mantrayana (Tib. གསང་སྔགས་ཀྱི་སྡོམ་པ་, sang ngag kyi dompa)