Ethan Nichtern – The Road Home – Ep. 61 – Taking Refuge

In this special dharma talk, Ethan Nichtern illuminates the importance and meaning of taking refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

In this special dharma talk, Ethan Nichtern illuminates the importance and meaning of taking refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

This episode of The Road Home Podcast is from a recent lecture Ethan Nichtern gave to a group of students about to take their Buddhist Refuge Vows, which is the formal step of a student entering the Buddhist path.

Visit ethannichtern.com for more information on how you can step onto the path and enter the yearlong study program for 2022.
Taking Refuge

What is the practice of taking refuge? Ethan begins the talk with a little about the Buddha’s journey to becoming awakened, and how the idea of going for refuge was about joining a community, joining a path. We look for home in all the wrong places, we’re wanderers always on the go. But we all have a home in this very human practice tradition.

“The idea of taking refuge, I think, is a very central premise of Buddhism. It doesn’t just apply to a formal step of entering the path.” – Ethan Nichtern

Ram Dev (Dale Borglum) talks about the joy of taking refuge on Healing at the Edge Ep. 4
Obstacles and Opportunities (14:35)

Ethan explores the idea in Buddhism that everybody is a refugee. We’re all wanderers, but we can take up a path to come to feel at home within ourselves. He asks us to consider the places where we take refuge that aren’t working, the places where we hide from the discomfort required to awaken. Ethan talks about how we can turn obstacles into opportunities. 

“This is really what Buddhism is about, is taking refuge and offering refuge, and offering a kind of safe support system for awakening to occur.” – Ethan Nichtern

Inner and Outer Jewels (24:15)

Ethan covers the inner and outer meanings for each of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The outer meaning is the more literal meaning of the teaching, and the inner meaning more of the essence. For each of these jewels – the example, the teachings, and the community – there is a balance to be found between inner and outer.

“There has to be this balance between looking to others for wisdom and activating our own wisdom. And when we look to others, we can’t look to them in a way that seeks salvation, we look to them to help us activate what is within us. That’s outer Buddha meeting inner Buddha.” – Ethan Nichtern

Roshi Joan Halifax shares her thoughts on the Three Jewels of refuge on BHNN Guest Podcast Ep. 7