Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In What or Where do You Take Refuge?

Katie from over at the blog Kloncke has been doing a series of really engaging posts over at the feminist blog Feministe. Her current post asks the question "Where do you take refuge?" She begins with the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, but then, given the diversity of her audience over there, extends refuge into more everyday things like dancing, spending time with a pet or a good friend, things like this.

Here's a little more of her post to consider:

Hopefully, our refuge will not be a means of escaping our suffering, but of engaging it from a different angle, which aids the process of letting go. Sue Nhim described this release beautifully just today on an earlier thread here:

this states so clearly what I have been feeling for the past few months, where before I denied that harm was done to me and yet I suffered, and then I accepted that I was harmed and still suffered, and now I understand that just because I was harmed/ damaged doesn’t mean that I have to suffer and hold on to my anxiety and anger, I can just let that go. It doesn’t negate the fact that I was harmed or mean that I should just ignore it, but it happened and what I can do to win is to not suffer and go on, wiser happier better. My mom calls it a state of grace, all I know is that it doesn’t hurt to go outside anymore.

So where do you take refuge? What are your best tools for letting go of suffering?

I can imagine many of us would quickly respond something like "Oh, I take refuge in the three treasures. Or I take refuge in my meditation practice." These are true for me. And yet I'm interested in what you all might have to add to those two. Or what Katie's questions mean to you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing the post to this community, Nathan!

It's been really interesting to me to notice the ways I craft these questions for a non-Buddhist audience. Taking a lot of cues from teachers at the People of Color night at East Bay Meditation Center, my home sangha.

Because within a practice community, like the Commit2Dharma study group I'm currently in through EBMC, I actually have a lot of skepticism around framing the question of refuge in that way. It can risk collapsing into relativism -- these 'worldly' refuges are just as good as the Triple Gem. But the point of dhamma is they're not as reliable, because they're impermanent and essenceless.

So on one hand I do feel like kind of a weird new-agey poser, doing a disservice to folks by presenting only the palatable parts of dhamma. But on the other hand I'm not a purist and I do believe it's important for this community, in particular, to remember to devote time to healing as much as critiquing/challenging.

Thanks for being a friend during this writing time -- it's been more stressful than I expected but surprising in all kinds of positive ways, and hopefully of benefit to at least some readers.

Nathan said...

looks like I short circuited responses with the Blogisattva post. hmm...

Anonymous said...

haha, no worries -- that's life. people here are looking for 'high-level buddhist' stuff (which you regularly and fabulously supply); not necessarily this one attempt to make dhamma accessible to feminists.

also, i just finished writing a long comment on the blogisattva post but it got erased when i hit publish! whoops!

i think it's a fun thought-experiment, though -- how we might structure an award-granting contest with an eye toward undermining privilege. three ideas:

1) upper-bound threshold of subscribers. more than 1,000 -- you're ineligible.

2) instead of announcing the 5 winners, contact them and ask for their 5 favorite lesser-read buddhist blogs, and publish those results. that way the social pull of the big fish gets put to good use.

3) put a cap on the number of white and male winners allowed. the easiest way to achieve "excellence" in buddhist blogging is to be a white, cisgendered, non-disabled, english-speaking man. it would be interesting to think about honoring the people who need to work harder to achieve "excellence."