Dharma Glimpse by Philip Wallbridge
The genesis of this dharma glimpse, or what I’m going to call a dharma pondering, came, as increasingly seems to be the case, at a Bright Earth practice. I had been listening to Beth’s heart-warming and inspiring dharma glimpse about saving a cockroach. And then Satya’s invitation to ‘take refuge’ in the following period of meditation. It became a period more of contemplation for me. I find practice is both calming and inspiring for me, which is perhaps why I get more glimpses, or ponderings, at them at the moment. I’m not always so calm when I’m on my own or interacting with others in or outside work. ‘Taking refuge’ is one of the invitations and ideas which first struck me when I started exploring and practicing. Taking refuge. It has a nice, if not slightly strange, feel to it for me. Images of rain beating hard against the roof of a temple, arriving as a weary, bruised and exhausted traveller. Maybe that’s more taking shelter than refuge. I don’t know. Maybe they are kinda the same thing.
Hearing Satya’s invitation today it gave me a sense of calm and warmth. Taking refuge. I could do with some, if not a lot, of it. It made me wonder about the relationship between the spiritual path and taking refuge at the start of the meditation period of practice. I expect taking refuge and progress on a spiritual path are a bit of a false dichotomy in my mind. But, if you’ll indulge me, here are my ponderings! I wonder if it is about becoming whole. Or becoming with the whole. The whole of nature, the universe, the Buddha, dharma and sangha. Where the ‘I’ and the ‘ego’ disappear. We cannot do this on our own perhaps. We need to keep trying, with our delusions and harmful actions, to follow a spiritual path towards love, wisdom and enlightenment. Maybe, for me, to be brave to keep moving forwards. Understanding and accepting the truth of attachment and impermanence. But also that we can rest, take refuge, be accepted and loved ‘just as we are’. Without having to be kinder, wiser, or more loving. ‘Just as we are’. Surrendering and seeking. Being and doing. Arriving and travelling. For some of us, we might need much more of the refuge. To stop, feel safe and be sheltered. Maybe because we have been in an endless cycle of harming others, ourselves and being harmed. The world can be hard. We can become hardened. For others of us, we might feel safe and loved in the human world. Have the opportunities to experience happiness in the things we do and the people we are with. But we are still unfulfilled and hungry in a spiritual sense. And know, deep down, these human and material things won’t last forever. We might need to seek more and discover more of the truth. We might need to provide the refuge and kindness more for others. For most of us, I suspect we need both in different amounts at different times. Maybe different times is on a day to day basis. And maybe we need both our heads and our hearts to know which we need.
I’m trying to think of a clever or profound way now to end these ponderings. But I can’t. Perhaps that, in itself, is a helpful thing. Glimpses, ponderings, hearts, heads, refuge, seeking. They aren’t necessarily nice and neat things. They are maybe all part of the whole, where the more you become part of it and go towards it, the more the distinctions melt away.
Wishing you love and happiness.
Namo Amida Bu