And/or listen deeply to the entire dharma talk at
The followings are excerpts.
What does it mean?, “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Buddha is the one who is mindful, awake, enlightened. Taking refuge is not believing in a God or deity. We all have a seed of mindfulness, understanding, and love. We can become a person who is fully awake, enlightened, just like the Buddha. Taking refuge is confirming the fact that you can be enlightened. You are a Buddha. This is not a declaration of faith, but a commitment to practice. In every breath we are taking refuge. In every mindful step we are taking refuge.
The way in is also the way out. Our spiritual life should be established in that vision – being truly ourselves. Practicing to bring a spiritual dimension into your life. Through drinking our tea, preparing our breakfast, or brushing our teeth. These are spiritual acts. Not being caught by the future or the past. This is being a Buddha.
Going home to ourselves. How is this act accomplished? Practicing in a community like Plum Village, everyone is supported by the sangha. This is taking refuge in the sangha. We have faith in the community. Helping to build this refuge for others.
Story of when the Buddha was about 80-years old and how he offered the teaching on taking refuge in the island of yourself. Here we can encounter the foundation of ourselves – the island includes the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is the practice of Plum Village also.
How do we respond when we are lonely, not feeling like ourselves? Our feelings of fear? Do we know how to practice going home to ourselves? Walking meditation is a method. Can we walk like a Buddha? Enjoying every step. This is a miracle.
The Buddha-nature is within you and through mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is you that is performing a miracle.
It is a practice of enjoyment.
In other words, I may say that "I (ego = separate self) accept myself (the Buddha = non-separate self = true self = awareness) unconditionally."
Relying on the Buddha. Resting in God. Relying on the Dharma body, the cosmic body, or the whole cosmos. Relying on non-separate self, or awareness. I understand all above are the same as "I take refuge in the Buddha."
Thích Nhất Hạnh