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  • Daniel Rodman

Refuge


To take refuge in someone or something is to rely on them for deliverance from suffering and hardship. In life we can take refuge in our entertainments, in exercise, in nature, in creative acts, in other people, in our own true self or deeper place within us, or in a higher power, be it God or the Buddha or Jesus or The Universe. When we seek refuge in these things we ask for liberation or fruition and eventually we receive it, although some refuges are more fulfilling and reliable than others.

Entertainments tend to be addictive, so even though we may go to them for refuge from our sufferings, we may feel distracted temporarily, but if the problems are not resolved then it doesn't go to the root of the problem and we will feel bad when our distraction is done.

Exercise allows us to burn away pent up stress and therefore allows for a release from some of our suffering. It is known that exercise can improve one's overall mood and reduce anxiety and depression, however if the problem doesn't simply lie in your body or your general mood, then you can exercise all you want and the problem will not be resolved.

Taking refuge in nature is a good way to change your mind set. You can exercise through hiking, and the atmosphere in nature is usually soothing and calming to the mind. You can even tap into a more transcendent understanding when seeing a great ocean or a mountain range or a great forest. This can plant the seeds of transformation in you that will help to develop a deeper sense of contentment and appreciation of life in general, which will help you heal well. However, if the problem is still not solved by deepening you relationship to life through nature, than something else must be taken as a refuge.

Creative acts like art, music, dance, and theater or film making all have healing properties to them since they are a conduit for catharsis and true expression. When we express ourselves fully we express what is in our hearts, what we love to express. Therefore we become grounded in our hearts and therefore become centered and achieve healing and refuge from our suffering. This is a profound and powerful relationship with life because it is not only passively appreciative on a deep level but it is actively engaged as well. However, if life's circumstances are causing suffering that is rooted in bad relationships or wrong thinking, than even if you achieve great artistic fulfillment, you may still find yourself depressed.

Seeking refuge in other people is a powerful way to heal. Through a therapist, or a deep conversation with a loved one, or through a teacher or spiritual teacher, we may learn what is happening with us and we can grow from it, changing thought patterns that harm us and others, and eventually move on with our lives.

However, if the ache in us is existential, if after it all we seek something more meaningful that calls our hearts, then we may seek a deeper place in ourselves or a higher power. By looking deeply into ourselves or to a higher power we may begin to find a Transcendent Truth, one which speaks to us of the deepest meaning of all of existence. That meaning is not other than the meaning of life itself, which is felt deep in our hearts, but is at the heart of all things and all beings. This Transcendent Truth is the ultimate meaning of our relationship with others, as well as our relationship with the world. It helps us to uproot the very basis of all suffering, by recognizing that it is the inevitable radiance of our hearts, that is truly the only thing that is real. When we realize that fact we have no basis for receiving suffering or causing suffering, since it uproots the ignorance in us that causes the suffering in the first place. In this we realize that the very nature of the Transcendent is fulfillment and inclines to the fulfillment of everyone. May you come to know the may ways to take refuge, and may you come to find which one serves your needs for the moment, knowing that all forms of refuge have their place and time in the path of life.

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