Saturday, August 1, 2015

Three Doors of Refuge

Meditation or contemplative practice, such as centering prayer, is a practice of receptivity. To enter the space of pure being, we must change (for the time of meditation) our fundamental relationship with the outer world from one of action and expression to one of receptivity and openness. We shift perception to "What Is" as it is. "Not mine, but Thy will be done." is the Christian language for this posture of mind. 

In Christian thought, to enter into the flow of divine grace, one must assume a mental posture of humility, meaning that one must relinquish both external identity attachments and the false sense of control they give us, and be with circumstances as they are, trusting God to carry us. This posture of receptivity is referred to as kenosis, self emptying. It is releasing the illusions imparted by ego: separation, attachment, neediness for power and control, for affection and esteem, in favor of trust, truth and authenticity. When we can learn to make this change of mind in  meditation, from active control to passive receptivity,  we are better able to bring our peaceful presence to times of active engagement with the outer world. This is the objective of meditation or contemplation: to exercise the mind in the way of receptivity so that as we live in the world, it is engaged in receptivity in a balance with its engagement in activity.

This description of meditation by Bon Tibetan Buddhist lama, Tinzen Wangyal Rinpoche describes the contemplative process.

"There is no better protection than the refuge of unbounded sacred space, infinite awareness, and genuine warmth. With the inner refuge, you are not depending on someone or something outside you to make you feel secure. Any external source of refuge is ultimately unreliable. 

OPEN. The first refuge, unbounded sacred space, is a true support because it is unchanging, indestructible, beyond birth and death, and eternal. Whatever difficulties you face, the first refuge supports you in allowing your experiences and hosting them fully.

AWARENESS. The second inner refuge, the light of awareness, can never be diminished or extinguished by any cause or condition. Inner light is unceasing—forever luminous and clear. Even in the darkest of circumstances, you can trust that it is always there.

PURE BEING.  You can also trust that the warmth of the third refuge is within you. It spontaneously arises from the union of openness and awareness. There may be moments when you feel emotionally cold and dark, when it seems that all the light has gone from your life. But your experience and inner truth are not in sync—the light is always there. At these moments, access to the inner refuge may seem distant, but a sense of trust may bring you a glimmer of the inner refuge that can lead to a shift in the darkness of your experience. Trust is a necessary companion on the path.
There is no situation so bad that you can't turn toward the three doors. As you become more familiar with entering and abiding in the inner refuge, you will begin to trust in its healing presence.

Being aware of the three doors is not work. In fact, the more effort you put into connecting with stillness, silence, and spaciousness, the more elusive the inner refuge seems. Connecting with the inner refuge is simply a matter of shifting your attention. If you are already still, be aware of stillness. When you are silent, hear the silence that is already there. Notice the spaciousness at the very center of your being. As you rest in awareness, you connect with your authentic self. The effort of seeking dissipates, and you are unbounded sacred space, infinite awareness, and genuine warmth—you are the inner refuge. The inner sacred space is so simple and close that if we search for it, we cannot find it. But it is always there for you, the source of all the elemental qualities you need. As the inner refuge, you are whole and complete in each moment."
~Tenzin Wangyal
Adapted from Tricycle .  Originally From The True Source of Healing, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (July 7, 2015). Reprinted with permission of Hay House.

Christian contemplative theology informs us that the first endeavor on the path to union with God is purgation. This is the process of opening, the removal of ego-defenses that keep us from a state of humble, loving acceptance; the psychological barriers to truth and grace. The second phase of the spiritual path is illumination, the same as awareness, described above as a light that is always on. Finally, union with God is akin to Pure Being, an experience of Oneness with the Divine finds us in the light of our own Pure Being.

May you be refined by the solitude of the open waters of grace, breathed through by the Spirit of light and love, and expanded into the open arms of Pure Oneness. It is from this Space that you can bring the highest healing to the world.

_/\_Peggy @ ecumenicus

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