Roshi Joan explains the Three Jewels of refuge and how we can find a safe place within ourselves.
We are given the call to take refuge in the awakened nature of all beings, a refuge in the moment, and in the interconnectedness of all beings. In doing so, we find the Buddha nature within.
Refuge of the Buddha (Opening) – Roshi Joan talks about taking refuge in the inner and outer ways. The first of the three jewels is the refuge of the Buddha. She discusses the similarities of taking refuge in the Buddha and the refuge Ram Dass and Krishna Das found in Maharajji.
“For me, taking refuge in the Buddha is not just the historical Buddha. It is also the awakened nature of all beings, including the most confused, crossed up ones in the world.”
Roshi shares details from her time volunteering in the prison system with prisoners on death row. There she could see the effects of structural violence, both in the system and our culture. Learning about these prisoners lives gave her insight to the particularities and roots of suffering. In this way, she was able to see the multifaceted nature of each individual; holding the whole catastrophe and beauty of that person together.
Refuge in the Dharma and Sangha (13:37) – The second jewel of refuge is the Dharma. Roshi Joan talks about taking refuge not only found in the ocean of wisdom that is the Buddha’s teaching, but also this very moment. She asks what it means to develop a heart that takes refuge in the now while not excluding the great potentialities of this moment to heal.
The third jewel that we take refuge in is that of the Sangha. We must have the courage to take refuge in love, which is the state of not being separate from any being or thing.
Our Little Tails (19:52) – What do we take refuge in? Roshi Joan delivers the koan of Goso’s buffalo and asks “what is the little thing in our lives that we hang on to?” She interacts with the crowd and reflects on their “little tails.”
Refuge and Death (36:57) – Roshi Joan talks about the phase shifts that come in the dying process. She shares three koans that point to the attachments we must let go of in dying and how the three jewels allow us refuge from them.
“How do we meet the truth of suffering and do the best we can, knowing that the outcome for all inevitably will be death? And what is death? Is it the end or is it the most precious moment of liberation?”
Find Roshi Joan online at the Upaya Zen Center and on Facebook. For more on the subject of refuge, check out these podcasts from Dale Borglum and Sharon Salzberg.