Before the Buddha passed into mahaparanirvana he taught about how to take refuge in the island within oneself, which means taking refuge in your inner teacher.
Taking refuge in the Buddha is to touch your awakened nature within, even if you come from a different faith, because everyone has the seed of awakening in themselves. One way of taking refuge in oneself is to return to the awareness of body in order to heal. We can notice symptoms of unwellness and allow our body to heal itself. Every body has the capacity to heal (seed condition), but do we trust in our body’s healing ability? Unwellness of body is also unwellness of the mind because body and mind are one, like two sides of a piece of paper. Healing needs to take place in body and mind together because they can help each other. Coming to the sangha is the best way to learn how to take care of yourself. Walking meditation helps us to get in contact with our Mother, the Earth to receive the energy of healing from her. Another condition for healing is uninterrupteness – to come back to our breath regularly, consistently, continuously. We can practice touching the Earth to connect with our ancestors who had good health, and to recognize that we have inherited their good genes is to let go of the idea of a separate self, and know that we are not alone.
Taking refuge in the Dharma (the law of nature) means that we can liberated by teachings of the way things are – conditioned genesis, which means this is because that is, interbeing. Things arise due conditions, and cease because of conditions. Suffering and the end of suffering is the same. Suffering is noble when we can face it and sit with it, not to run away from it with consumption or distraction. Instead we can go home to the island within and heal. If we see suffering in the world and suffer even more, then we need to build up more solidity with the support of a Sangha, and together with a Sangha we can do something to help the situation. In the meanwhile we can recognize the positive things that are there in the present moment, even if small. The 19th and 20th century are infused with individualism, and in the 21st century it is still there in competitions, in schools, in businesses…etc., but we are moving into an era of collectivism – your happiness is my happiness.
Taking refuge in the Sangha is to take refuge in a community that lives in harmony and awareness. The energy of the Sangha is more than the sum of the individuals in it because everyone has something to contribute in different ways. We can practice to be an island to yourself while in the Sangha. Thầy has said that the future Buddha maybe a sangha and not an individual. Thầy has given birth to a sangha, and even now as he cannot teach like he used to, but the Sangha will be the future Thầy.
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