One is one’s own refuge. Who else could be the refuge?
I have always loved this particular aphorism from Buddha.
Yet, the moments that I seem to love it, are the moments when I do not seek a sanctuary from anything. When I do seek a sanctuary from something, this aphorism seems true, but harder to embrace.
So… inquisitive mind that I am, I thought I’d explore that.
When things are going swimmingly, we are all able to embrace words of wisdom, because philosophy is a great thing to embrace. It has substance, it resonates, it reminds us of what we believe, who we aspire to continually be, and in some cases, gives cause to reflect back on a moment where we had encountered the lesson that the philosophy is addressing, and causes us to remember that at the end of the day, this particular aphorism is true.
All that means (without double speak) is that when things are going well, every philosophical concept has greater potential of resonating, especially the ones that teach the hardest lessons.
BUT…. When things are not going so well, suddenly the lesson is a much harder pill to swallow. Suddenly the lesson is poignant, resonant, and glaringly annoying!
I think the distinction that makes this happen is that when we hit a hard stretch and we need that lesson… the lesson appears and we are left with only the ability to see it, and determine if we are mature enough at that moment in time to embrace it.
Sometimes we are. Other times, not so much. And when we are in the “not so much” category, our struggle that requires that lesson only stagnates or gets worse. Some struggles self-remedy, but in general, the problem is going to stick around until we are ready to become our own refuge.
A refuge is a shelter or a sanctuary from something that is oppressing like a storm. Most of the storms that hit us are external, some are internal… but almost all come with the opportunity for us to dig deep within, summon power, strength, resiliency and determination as our internal refuge and collectively, these powers are the forces that drive us from a position of weakness to a position of strength.
The refuge comes in a form of mental salve, a tincture of solutions that we must be willing to swallow, lest we remain perpetually caught in the proverbial storm from which we seek the sanctuary. Most of us are able to find that courage, others succumb to the storm and either live a life of desperation, or die in the process.
So, at the end of the day, when the problem is of that magnitude, the need to look within for answers and chart a course of action that is self-determined and orchestrated only with the powers of our own being, we do become the refuge, whether we like it or not. The society we grow up in enables us to watch continuous fantasies of people whose wishes are coming true in fairytales, fantasies and other kinds of stories. These stimuli create a false perspective on the reality of most experiences. Recognizing them as fantasy and allowing them to provide an artistic joy in our lives, without setting our expectations on the magic solution that always seems to arrive when the hero of the story is at their weakest moment in a fantasy is the only solution. Yet, even in fictional fantasies, we are more impressed when the hero finds the strength within to prevail. We can relate to that moment, and it therefore triggers a reinforcement of the values that I have been trying to express today.
If your life hits a storm and you seek shelter…. Just like Dorothy in Oz, you have the power within you the entire time. Just remember…. To become presence means accepting the risk of absence.
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