With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
Namu Kie Butsu
Namu Kie Ho
Namu Kie So.
These are the three refuges. Zen Buddhists take refuge in these. An interesting notion, actually, and not at all what is commonly thought to be the case if we look deeply at the refuges themselves.
Butsu means Buddha. On the superficial level this might mean we take refuge in the model of the man who became a Buddha, or the model of the Enlightened One himself. Yet, Buddha just means awake. In the deepest sense we are taking refuge in the state of being awake, present, mindful, and so on. So, refuge does not mean setting ourselves apart from something, but being completely in it.
Ho means Dharma. Dharma is sometimes thought of as "teaching". So this refuge is about going to the teaching of the Buddha to live. Hmmm. Buddha taught only to be awake. Still deeper, dharma means reality. So we are taking refuge in the real world, the non-dualistic world of the present moment. We might call this "thusness".
So means Sangha, the community. On a superficial level, this would be a community of monks or other like-minded people. Yet, when we are one, who is two? All are one, so we take refuge in the entire world of beings. We both take care of others and are nurtured by others. On a closer level, our community supports our practice and our practice supports our community. Zen, contrary to popular belief, should not be practiced alone. It is not about the self, but rather the Self, not about the mind, but about the Mind.
Community is important to help us along the way, teachers are important to help us to not go in directions that are unhelpful. Buddha taught a very practical practice. If it leads us to complete unexcelled awakening, it is useful, if not, avoid it.
When we open our eyes we see that there is only one community, that is the community of beings on this planet. It may be filled with color and a cacophony of sound; it may come in slow bake, half bake, or fast bake varieties; it may have right wing outliers and left wing outliers on that bell curve: but all are us and the entire curve is one.
When we take refuge, we take refuge in this truth. This is the real meaning of the truth will set you free.