Our True Refuge

The following is a summary of Bro. Tan’s teaching on 10 June 2012, the Fourth Gimhana Sunday at Nalanda.

Let the light of Dhamma within us be our guide.  When we stumble, let Virtue help us get back on track.  When we are excited, remember to hear Serenity’s gentle voice.  When we are lost, reach in to Faith, and Wisdom will show us the way.  Thus is the light and the island of Dhamma our true refuge.  It is a safe harbour where, securely anchored, we can in turn be an anchor to others who are being swept around in the turbulent sea of Life.

We need to recognise that there are certain things that other people cannot do for us.  When we are hungry, we cannot ask another to eat on our behalf.  When we are tired, nobody else can sleep away the fatigue for us.  Similarly, we cannot “delegate” our spiritual cultivation to others.  We reap what we sow.  The natural law of cause and effect (kamma vipāka) ensures that if we plant lemon seeds, it can only bear lemons!  In the same way, when we ooze defilements into the world around us, we are only contributing to more unhappiness and chaos.  Our mission as Buddhists is to create more goodness, peace and happiness.  When we dwell within ourselves and the Dhamma as our island and refuge, the light illuminates our journey to brightness, and draws the people to come around us!

Life may throw lemons at us sometimes.  For example, what do we do when we meet unpleasant people who say things about us that we do not like to hear?  Their words blemish our perceived self-story, which we had painted in our mind’s eye and convinced ourselves to be real.  Immediately, our self-justifications come to the fore and our ego defends itself.  We feel insulted, hurt and often lash out in anger.  When the emotions pass, we are left with remnants of resentment or guilt.  Where is Peace in all this?  If we truly want to transform ourselves, we should cultivate patience and honesty.  Lay down our ego and focus on the learning, not the feeling.  In our own quiet time and space, we contemplate and reflect on the comments received.  It is from the unpleasant encounters that one truly learns a valuable lesson.  So when you get lemons, make lemonade!

In conclusion, Bro. Tan shared these three words with us :

Discipline  ♦  Devotion  ♦  Determination

“Discipline” means “being one’s own disciple”.  Thus we listen to the wisdom in us, and obey our own goodness.  As we grow to become a better person, it further strengthens our faith and confidence.  With strong devotion and unshakeable determination, we kindle the light of Dhamma within.

Come and join us for the next Gimhana Sunday teaching by Bro. Tan on 17 June 2012 at 9am!  There will also be meditation, puja and chanting following the teaching.  Lunch will be served to all devotees at noon.  All are welcome!