The Buddha walked around a lot.
He would go around from city, to village, to town – all over the countryside, making known the Dharma or truth that he had discovered.
He didn’t read from a book – he spoke form his heart.
He had an uncanny knack of truly being able to see people clearly. He would pierce through all the walls that we throw up to protect ourselves and would be able to see and know our hopes and fears, our biases, our pain and then he would speak directly to you.
The Dharma would emerge in the moment. The Buddha would speak from the depths of his spiritual experience and would connect that to you in a way that would leave most people he encountered speechless.
It was a heart-mind transmission.
The Master Sangharakshita put it this way,
The Buddha would speak from the depths of his spiritual experience. He would expound the Truth and show the Way leading to Enlightenment, and the person to whom he was speaking would be absolutely astounded and overwhelmed. In some cases he might not be able to speak or do more than stammer a few incoherent words. Something had been revealed to him. Something had burst upon him that was above and beyond his ordinary understanding. For an instant, at least, he had glimpsed the Truth, and the experience had staggered him.
And then in response to that Heart-Mind transmission the individual would go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
What does it mean to go for refuge?
The word refuge means “to seek shelter or protection from danger or distress. To seek asylum.” The word asylum refers to “a place of refuge, a sanctuary” and it’s interesting to note that the word asylum is Latin for “sanctuary” taken from the Greek asylon which means “refuge, fenced territory,” and if used as a (asylos) means “inviolable, safe from violence,”
What is it that we may be finding dangerous?
Maybe ourselves, society, life as it’s normally lived when we’re caught-up in greed, hatred and delusion.
Dangerous compared to what?
We need some sort of comparison – something that we can point to and say,”That over there, that’s safe. And that over that way, well that’s dangerous.”
And in Buddhism that safe place is the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
The Buddha: The Buddha represents mind’s full development and our own potential actualized
The Dharma: Teachings which helps us realize our potential
The Sangha: Helpful friends that support, encourage and guide us along the way.
Going for refuge is an outward act representative of an inner experience. A moment where something inside of us clicks.
We have a glimpse of the “truth” an experience of peace, a time where we come face to face with an experience that touches something inside, moves us in some way, resonates and vibrates within us so much so that we can no longer go back or see the world in the same way again.
At that point it just makes sense, like it’s the only real choice that we have. And to mark that inner moment of change we go seek refuge. We go to the only safe place we know of, free from the dangers of life, and that place is the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.