Refuge in Oneself

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Refuge in Oneself

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:53 am

Hi all,

I'm returning to DW with my tail between my legs after having argued a bit with Tilt about the idea of taking refuge in oneself. :D
I just read this from HH 17th Karmapa:

How we come down to the real meaning, the whole point, of what I am saying here. It is that I am my own refuge, I am my own protector. Nobody can actually give me protection. I must help myself by clearly understanding what I have to take up and what I have to get rid of. I have to find this out myself and then do it, and that the true practice of Dharma. It is through the practice of Dharma that I create the causes and conditions for my own happiness and for achieving wisdom, compassion, and the ability to help others. Entire article


And there we have it. I tried to find the previous thread where Tilt brought it up and I can't find it, but I think the idea is worthy of its own thread.

Does anyone else find this interesting? When I first read about taking refuge in my own self, I thought that sounded so wild! I mean, me?? I'm the deluded one. But from a certain angle this makes sense, too. Any thoughts, opinions, or suttas are appreciated.

Best,
Drolma
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:01 am

Greetings Drolma,

Perhaps it was this topic?

Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2196

Either way, here's something I posted in that topic which is also relevant to yours!

Something I read at lunchtime from Ven K. Sri Dhammananda in his introductory text "How To Practice Buddhism".

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ddhism.pdf

Faith alone cannot purify the mind to remove doubts so as to help us understand the truth. People can uphold a wrong belief without analyzing it or without having any sense of reasoning because they are afraid that if they do, they might lose their faith and thus also lose their chance to gain salvation.

The Buddha's advice on the other hand is, before accepting any belief as the truth, it is for us to study, investigate, practice and see the results for ourselves in the end. When we come to a conclusion after having made a thorough analytical investigation, we gain confidence in the truth, as we have satisfactorily verified it for ourselves. By realizing the truth ourselves, we naturally gain confidence. This is neither mere faith nor belief but realization. The Buddha's advice is neither to believe nor reject anything at first hand. As we have human minds to enable us to think soberly, we must therefore give a chance to our minds to think independently and understand things in the correct perspective.

We should not think that we just cannot understand. Some people who are very lazy to study a problem in depth, simply do not try to understand things as they really are and so seek the easy way out by just surrendering themselves to what the others say, because they have no self confidence in themsleves. A true Buddhist on the other hand has self-respect, knowing fully well that he is responsible for himself, his actions and his salvation. 'No one saves us but ourselves, the Buddha shows us the correct way'.


Strong words perhaps, but worth reflecting on.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:14 am

Hi Retro,

Yes, that's the topic! Thanks. Wonderful words from Ven K. Sri Dhammananda. It really places the responsibility squarely where it belongs, doesn't it?
Thanks for reposting it here :)

Best,
Drolma
Last edited by Ngawang Drolma. on Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby kannada » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:27 am

Refuge in Oneself

Hi Drolma,

Wouldn't this contradict the teaching of Anatta? Taking refuge in a 'self' that is nothing more than a utilisable misperception...

Best wishes

k
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:08 am

kannada wrote:
Refuge in Oneself

Hi Drolma,

Wouldn't this contradict the teaching of Anatta? Taking refuge in a 'self' that is nothing more than a utilisable misperception...

Best wishes

k


Hi Kannada,

If you don't mind, I'll let the folks more experienced in Theravada reply first.
And if they don't, I'll give it a go :)

Best,
Drolma
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby cooran » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:53 am

Hello all,

In the Dhammapada, the Buddha taught:

Dhammapada Verse 160 - Kumarakassapamatuttheri Vatthu

Atta hi attano natho
ko hi natho paro siya
attana hi sudantena
natham labhati dullabham.


Verse 160: One indeed is one's own refuge; how can others be a refuge to one? With oneself thoroughly tamed, one can attain a refuge (i.e., Arahatta Phala), which is so difficult to attain.
http://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/ve ... ?verse=160

metta
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby kannada » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:00 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:
kannada wrote:
Refuge in Oneself

Hi Drolma,

Wouldn't this contradict the teaching of Anatta? Taking refuge in a 'self' that is nothing more than a utilisable misperception...

Best wishes

k


Hi Kannada,

If you don't mind, I'll let the folks more experienced in Theravada reply first.
And if they don't, I'll give it a go :)

Best,
Drolma

No need to reply, it just didn't make any sense to me.

No amount of explanations, regardless of how 'experienced' one is is going to turn anatta into atta...

I'll just sit in the peanut-gallery and watch the unfolding drama

Take care
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby imagemarie » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:44 am

kannada wrote:
Refuge in Oneself

Hi Drolma,

Wouldn't this contradict the teaching of Anatta? Taking refuge in a 'self' that is nothing more than a utilisable misperception...

Best wishes

k


So - "who" needs a refuge? :popcorn:

(should that be whom? :smile: )
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby kannada » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:55 am

Imagemarie hi...

Exactly... Who(m) needs a refuge when there is no-one to shelter?

Best wishes

k
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby cooran » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:18 am

And then there are the rest of us - just following what the Buddha taught, and the Sangha of Bhikkhus so faithfuly preserved:

33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.
"And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?
34. "When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.
35. "Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, 20 if they have the desire to learn."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html

metta
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby kannada » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:33 am

Chris wrote:And then there are the rest of us - just following what the Buddha taught, and the Sangha of Bhikkhus so faithfuly preserved:

Hi Chris,

If I am not mistaken the Buddha also taught Anatta, the bedrock of Buddha Dharma, which the Sangha of Bhikkhus also faithfully preserved. So it seems there is indeed a self within which to take refuge which is not really a self?

I take refuge in me which I am not...

Regards

k
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:18 pm

"Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

"And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?

"When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.

"Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, 20 if they have the desire to learn."
(DN 16)

do not take refuge in yourself but be refuge unto yourself

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby christopher::: » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:40 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:
Nobody can actually give me protection. I must help myself by clearly understanding what I have to take up and what I have to get rid of. I have to find this out myself and then do it, and that the true practice of Dharma. It is through the practice of Dharma that I create the causes and conditions for my own happiness and for achieving wisdom, compassion, and the ability to help others.


Chris wrote:
33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.



I could be wrong, but it sounds like this is a two part equation.

Step one- we are each, even though unenlightened, still responsible. Yes, the self is an illusion of sorts, anatta, but that unenlightened self is also responsible. Its the actions, intentions, kamma of our "self" that reaps the future--- we are each (step two here) responsible for putting the dhamma into practice. The dhamma that the Buddha taught, which can be found within ourselves, also, maybe?

If so, i think we call that Buddha Nature, in Mahayana...

:anjali:
Last edited by christopher::: on Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby imagemarie » Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:19 pm

This might be an irrelevant thought.. forgive me. :smile:

But when I was first pregnant many years ago I felt, for the first time (and perhaps uniquely), that "I" had to take a backseat.
A surrender of sorts. I felt "my" "self" as process, in which I had to trust. I felt that all was well and that all manner
of things would be well!

This profound recognition of process..of intelligence...of mind...I don't know what name to give this "knowing", but is "this" not
some sort of "refuge"? I feel I should be putting everything, "everything" in inverted commas here!!

I dunno.Seems there's a lot of tail-chasing going on. Self/other.. Anatta/atta.

And that this is unavoidable. :juggling:
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby Rui Sousa » Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:04 pm

In my understanding of anatta we are a bundle of five aggregates, but we do exist.

There is no self in that existence, but the existence is real. That existence has the means to attain final liberation, we can take the three jewels as our refuge and trust that we are capable of achieving that liberation.

So I see no incoherence in saying that we are inlands who depend only in our ability to see the truth, and at the same time that there is no self.
With Metta
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:26 pm

there must be emphasized not to mix up "oneself" and "one self" (sorry I don't know how to express myself better in english)
when I'm talking about "myself" then what I mean are the 5 aggregates usually known as e.g. "acinteyyo"
but when I'm talking about "my self" then there must be said that neither in one of these 5 aggregates, nor more, nor all of the 5 aggregates, nor outside of these 5 aggregates "my self" or "one/a self" can be found.

an/atta is not the question in the quoted sutta DN16
this is what it means "to be refuge unto oneself":
"When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 13, 2009 3:41 pm

kannada wrote:Imagemarie hi...

Exactly... Who(m) needs a refuge when there is no-one to shelter?

Best wishes

k


The classic beginners mistake. Language within the Dhamma is used variously. One one level there is no self, but in a conventional level, which is not less true, we talk about self in a functional manner. Here is something I wrote in a different context on another forum in a galaxy far, far away:



An unchanging self certainly would not be able to feel since it would not be influenced by or even aware of its surroundings (which would be the khandhas). It would be meaningless to say that this unchanging “being” was impure and wanted to change to a state of purity.

The Buddha clearly stated: Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. - SN III 46.

The idea that there is some unchanging thing, some “being,” some self, that we really in fact are that is different from the khandhas is meaningless. An unchanging “being” cannot act, cannot feel, is not aware, would have no qualities by which it can be defined, cannot influence or respond to that which changes, the khandhas.

‘”I am’ is derivative upon form … perception … feelings … volitional formation … consciousness’ – S XXII 83/iii 105

We make a radical, unstated assumption that the "self" -- this “being”, this "I am" that we assume that we are - does - in some fundamental way - exist, not changing, and that it is an independent agent behind what we experience. As we have seen the Buddha, however, points out that our sense of self, no matter how “refined” is derived from our experiences, it is a conditioned experience.

The assumption, the radical feeling is that we are in our heart of hearts, in the very core of our being, this self, this “being”, this “I am,” - and this assumption, this radical feeling that this self, this “I am” is an unchanging agent is the fundamental delusion, the base ignorance. The insight that arises from the Dhamma practice allows us to see that this "self" - this “I am” - is both conditioned and conditioning. The self - the “being” - does not exist independently of the rise and fall, the ever-changing flow, of conditions.

The radical insight of the Buddha is that we are not a singular independent self, but we are, rather, a dynamic interdependent process where choice, feelings, sensations, the whole catastrophe plays itself out without a need for an unchanging self, no matter how rarified we imagine the “I am”, the self, the “being” to be. Though there is an intellectual component to this teaching of the Buddha to which we can give assent, it is really a matter of cultivating mindfulness that gives rise to the insight into seeing what we truly are.

". . . the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now." U iv 1.

In the mean time - until we are awakened - we have to deal with this sense of self, this sense of “being”. We can tell it where to get off, but being stubborn, recalcitrant, and primal it won't get off. The sense of self, of “I am”, persists. So, in a very real sense, via the practice of the Dhamma, we cultivate the self, we train it, we tame it via Right View, the precepts and meditative practice, through giving and lovingkindness practice, all of which help thin the walls of delusion of permanence with which we surround the self and by which we build up the sense and idea of “being.” The insight - vipassana - from practice of the Buddha-Dhamma allows us to see the self's actual interdependent nature, which allows us to let go of that sense – delusion -- of self, of being, that we seem to think is so real.

Basically, an unchanging self - a “being” - separate from the khandhas is a silly idea. The idea of an unchanging self - a “being” - of any sort is a silly idea given that it is no thing, capable of doing no thing. And as far as this thread is concerned, such an unchanging “being” cannot feel, manifest or receive compassion.

It is that we are not an unchanging “being” that cannot act or interact, which gives us the possibility of awakening and the possibility of compassion, because we can and do interact with others, seeing that their changing nature is just like ours. We are not independent beings; rather, we are interdependent:

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sn 705
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:02 pm

:goodpost:
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

:anjali:
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby cooran » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:13 pm

Hello all,

'The Buddha, in explaining his doctrine, sometimes used conventional language and sometimes the philosophical mode of expression which is in accordance with undeluded insight into reality. In that ultimate sense, existence is a mere process of physical and mental phenomena within which, or beyond which, no real ego-entity nor any abiding substance can ever be found. Thus, whenever the suttas speak of man, woman or person, or of the rebirth of a being, this must not be taken as being valid in the ultimate sense, but as a mere conventional mode of speech (vohāra-vacana).
........ the Buddha repeatedly mentioned his reservations when using conventional speech, e.g. in D. 9: "These are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations in common use in the world, which the Perfect One (Tathāgata) uses without misapprehending them." See also S. I. 25.'
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/n_r/paramattha.htm

metta
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Re: Refuge in Oneself

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:31 pm

There's a thread here in the "Discovering Theravada" section I started a while back called "The Not Self Strategy."
In that thread we discussed the distinction between no self and not self. I linked to an article by a Bikkhu that was called "The Not Self Strategy."
Maybe that would be a nice read too, for kannada. This minor difference of one letter in that phrase changes the meaning a lot. I hadn't paid as much attention to my phrasing before that as I do now.

Best,
Drolma

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