Going for Refuge and Taking the Training Precepts Together

The key to development along the Buddhist path
is repetitive routine guided by inspirational vision.
–– Bikkhu Bodhi

On Monday November 2, 2020, just a day before the presidential election, a group of us from the Valley Insight community began gathering in our virtual Dharma Hall at 7:30 a.m. each weekday morning for a half hour. Our initial purpose was simple: to practice peace together. To sit still together, to remember our wise and loving hearts together, to offer our well wishes to the nation together, to set a direction for our lives together. We did this even as our hearts trembled, together with all the anxious and weary hearts of our nation and the world. As we were watching and waiting, we were also seeking refuge and clarifying direction. We knew that we were doing this for ourselves and that we were doing it for all the others.

We planned to meet every morning that first week. After that, we would consider whether to continue and if so, in what format. We did reassess––and have done so several times since. Each time, we have decided to keep meeting daily with our simple format. I think we continue because it feels good to welcome the day together and because, through our shared practice, each morning we find and become the refuge we seek. Together, we gain the clarity of heart that we need––and the courage. Tara Brach once described the Buddhist Path as one of repeatedly losing and finding presence. Daily, we are re-finding and stabilizing this loving presence (Refuge in Buddha); guided by practice, we re-create it together (Refuge in Dharma); and it comes alive among us (Refuge in Sangha).

We know that what we do in this world matters. Every morning, we are nourishing ourselves––building a resiliency that helps us cope with our complex, complicated days. At the same time, we are planting seeds that will encourage harmony, kindness, peace, and presence of mind in our relational and social interactions. These seeds, which will flavor our actions during the day, are also discouraging the reactivity––in ourselves and others––which can often contribute to fear, divisiveness, confusion, and discontent. May all beings be free from such suffering.

It is the insight into final freedom––the peace and purity of a liberated mind––that uplifts us and impels us to overcome our limits. But is by repetition––the methodic cultivation of wholesome practices––that we cover the distance …  and draw ever closer to awakening.  

–– Bikkhu Bodhi

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