When we become Buddhists, it’s a rather odd thing.
The group we are joining promises no great power or protection. We have not joined a special forces combat group or received the keys to an elaborate spa where people will wrap us in seaweed and tell us how beautiful we are.
Rather, it’s quite the opposite. We are asked to look, to look at ourselves, to look deeper and deeper. We choose to climb out of our little claustrophobic nest as best we can and take a good hot shower with lots of soap.
We stand in front of the mirror and fully accept what we see there.
We sit and read about the preciousness of life, how short it is.
We ask ourselves what is the purpose of our life.
Is it to check off as many things as possible from a bucket list?
Do we spend our entire waking life thinking
‘What about me?’ My money, my neuroses, my things, my favorite restaurant, my problems. My my my my.
In Buddhism, in taking refuge it is rather the opposite: we become a refugee.
We begin to take off our armor, perhaps we are just able to open the visor on our helmet for five minutes, then close it back up for the day. It is a start.
We taste the fresh air.
It is about loosening the armor and getting strong enough to take it all off.
Then we can experience the whole world.
We don’t need to lie or deceive others, we don’t need to dull ourselves with all sorts of things: endless magazines, endless reading, TV, food,.
We might say I will make money for 30 years the develop my spiritual practice. Usually that time never comes for most people or they die.
On our deathbed do we say: I have been to all the great resorts, I caught the biggest fish, I have acquired all the clever ways to get rich, I have defeated all of my family’s enemies?
What is your purpose for living?