On a Refuge
Guru Shree Chitrabhanu
On a Refuge
Our Protection in an Unprotected World
Just as we need food for our body to nourish it, so we need food for the nourishment of our mind. When our mind does not get good thoughts, positive ideas, which are its nutrition, it becomes weak. And just as a weak body becomes the victim of any disease or virus, in the same way a weak mind can become the victim of any influence. It becomes impressionable, and wherever it goes, it takes on the color of that influence. It doesn’t have its own special way of thinking.
A weak mind is more dangerous than a weak body. If somebody has a weak body, it is noticeable, and he can take vitamins, proper food, or yoga postures to strengthen it. But if the mind becomes weak, it is not so easily noticed.
Ultimately, the strength of the mind helps strengthen the body; and together they help the soul on its journey. That is why these twelve reflections are given–to use mind and body for the journey of soul, to use meditation to uncover that which is permanent, to see life as it is.
Meditation can be used also for only temporary things –to feel good, to get wealth, to have pleasant relationships. If you offer these reflections to those who want only the temporary, they will reject them. Why? Because they are not ready to go deep. They want what they can get immediately.
We are talking of something permanent, of long-term things in which some people have no interest. Those whose quest for the permanent has not yet awakened think, “Who knows what will happen later, after fifty years? Let me enjoy now!”
So the twelve reflections are given to the initiates, to people who are sincerely interested in life and the life to come; or, let us say, in the flow of life. Those who have given us these bhavanas saw the continuity of life, the eternal flow. They didn’t start with birth or end with death. For them birth is a wave and death is another wave. If you ask, “Where is the first wave?” the wise ones answer, “It exists in the second wave. Show me the first wave and see the second wave. The first wave has created the second wave.”
If you want to know the existence of the first wave, then you have to know the second wave. If the first wave has not subsided, then the second wave will not come. The coming of another wave itself indicates that the previous wave has already merged. Something merges and something emerges. This is the whole process–merge and emerge. So birth is nothing but somewhere else a death. One wave merges in death, and another wave emerges in birth.
These two waves are connected deeply with one another. When we start experiencing this deep truth, this deep instinct, not only in words or phrases but in our real experience, we are then able to live in this world in the state of fearlessness. We can use all the techniques to overcome fear, but as long as we remain on a level of quotations without experience, the fear remains. Why do people have fear? Because they see everything decaying, disappearing. They have not gone beyond this level. That is why fear is always at the back of their mind.
This meditation helps us gradually experience another approach, a space where fear does not exist. How is this possible? Because the consciousness starts experiencing the permanent behind all the impermanence. It starts seeing the merging of the wave in the emergence of another wave.
Someone may say, “‘The thing has disappeared.” The person who has meditated will answer, “You talk of disappearing. Do you not see something appearing? Why emphasize that which is lost? Why do you not see that which is gained?” That is why our first meditation was on the changeless behind the changes. The world you see is ever moving. It moves and that is why it is new and fresh. But our ignorant mind wants to hold on to the things as they were and keep them. The mind has the habit of turning everything into an antique; it loves antiques !
When you have realized the difference between the permanent and the transient exactly, then you are ready to come to the second reflection–asharana, meaning unprotectedness. Beyond that is sharana, meaning protection. The initiate thinks, “I am always trying to seek some protection, some savior. My mind has been comfortable when somebody was leading me, taking care of me. Now I know that what I cannot do for myself nobody will do for me.” This reflection gives a new insight–not to be dependent.
Mental dependence is built from childhood. If the mother goes away, the baby cries. It is natural. But even in their sixties people are like babies crying when mother leaves. Why? Because they always have that feeling of helplessness. They aren’t ready to stand on their own feet. When you see that on which you were leaning slipping away, watch the fear arise. See how panic overtakes you. This second meditation helps us see that other people, and things as well, are themselves helpless. How can they help you when they too are helpless?
In reality, as long as you have the appropriate karmas the person or thing will remain with you. You may do a hundred things to hold on, but when the karmas are over, the thing will go. And if you are not ready to see the truth, you may crumble completely. You find that it was a prop, a support, or a crutch. When you completely lean upon a prop or a crutch, what happens when it breaks? You tumble down. The idea is to build your inner muscles. Meditation, if rightly digested, gives you great strength. You start building inner power.
This does not mean you never accept anybody’s help. It means you don’t depend on it. If any help comes, take it, appreciate it, and be thankful for it. The difference is this: if you are not dependent, and help does not come you do not mind; but if you are dependent, and help does not come, you wait and build expectation. When your expectation is not fulfilled, you feel fear and panic “What will happen now? Who is mine?”
There is a meaningful story in Jain tradition about a young monk who had come to understand asharana in his life. One beautiful morning, he was sitting under a tree meditating. In that era the king of that area was Bimbisara, who was also in his youth, and very handsome. At the time, he was full of ego, for he did not know anything about religion, spirituality, or the inside world He gloried in his own youthful strength and prosperity. He was the biggest king of Magadha, now known as Bihar.
ON this morning, as Bimbisara was riding along on his horse, the birds were chirping, the flowers were blossoming, and nature was in full bloom.
Riding by, he saw the monk sitting under the tree meditating, and thought, “Why is this young man sitting and meditating here? He must be engulfed in poverty. Let me help him.” So he called out, “Young man, what are you doing here? You appear like a mendicant.”
“Yes, sir,” answered the young monk.
“What is your name?” the king inquired.
“My name is Anatha, the unprotected one. I am protectionless.
The king was shocked. “When a king like me is lord of this whole province, how can you call yourself Anatha, kingless ?
“Sir,” answered the monk, “shall I tell you my story? Do you have patience?”
“Yes,” said the king eagerly. “I would like to hear you.”
This is the story he related. “I was in my twenties and I had a beautiful wife, a big family, wealth, a beautiful house, plenty of money, food, and jewelry. All loved me, and at that time I was in the full bloom of youth. I became so egotistical and proud of myself I would not look down. I thought that the world must be at my feet. ‘Whatsoever I desire, the world brings to me,’ is the way I used to think.
“This ego I continued building inside. As a result, I continued treating other people as nothing.
“Then one day I came home from a walk in the garden and felt a little uncomfortable. I got a headache and fever. Slowly the fever increased. By night I was in bed. My body was shivering. My mother, who loved me, said, ‘My darling son, what can I do for you? I am helpless. Let me bring something.’
“Physicians came, the herbalist came–but nothing helped .
“Here were so many people caring for me, but they could not protect me. Each pore was burning like fire. I was crying. Sir, Bimbisara, hear me! I was so helpless! And my wife, who loved me from her heart, prepared and applied sandalwood paste to cool my body. But as soon as it dried up, again the burning started. So it was applied for two, three, and four hours at a time. And then even that was too much, and it led to too much cold.
“Sir, will you believe it? In twenty-one days I became a skeleton and I could not digest any food or medicine. At that time, I thought, ‘What shall I do?’ I became desperate, and although my wife, mother, and servants were there, I was alone in the bed, without any refuge or strength to turn to.
“Then a thought came to my mind. Once when I was going somewhere on my horse, the great sage Mahavir was speaking and I heard him as I was passing by. He said, ‘When you are helpless and there is no protection, accept the protection of these four pure elements: Arihanta–those who have conquered all inner weaknesses; Siddha–the Perfect Souls; Sadhu–the Saints, whose energy is vibrating in the universe; Dharma– the Pure Teaching which comes from the Enlightened Ones. With pure feeling, move toward that. When there is no protection, take the protection of these four.’
“This idea came floating to my mind. I thought, ‘Now that nobody is able to protect me, let me surrender my-self to this.’ My mind became so engaged in repeating these blessed words that I started absorbing the energy.
“Exactly at midnight, my eyes were so calm and clear that I was able to sleep peacefully the whole night. In the morning when my wife saw me, she thought, ‘Last night I applied sandalwood paste especially and now I see it has worked.’ And the doctor thought, ‘My medicine is working now.’ Another came and said, ‘I gave roots and now the juice from them is working on him.’ Everyone was ready to take credit for my improvement.
“In the afternoon, when I opened my eyes, everyone started to tell me what they were thinking. I told them, ‘Thank you for what you have done for me. I appreciate your care and your help and your feelings. But let me tell you the truth: in this world when a person becomes protectionless, there is nevertheless one protection: the Higher Self.’
“I connected to that invisible inner force, which is always there, and ultimately I became in tune with it. My mind which was creating so many turbulent thoughts became calm. In the state of calmness, I merged into that pure state, and I thought, ‘I take protection of all the Perfect Souls who became pure consciousness. I associate with their vibrations. I take refuge in the Conquerors of inner weaknesses. I join myself with the Saints of the universe wherever they are. And I merge in that Teaching of Dharma, that flow which comes from the compassion, love, and deep peace of the Omniscient Ones.
“That turned into medicine. It became a soothing balm for my consciousness.”
Then Bimbisara asked, “What did you do then?”
“After that,” the monk continued, “when I became well, I decided to take another path. I left my prosperous life. I have taken the path of the unprotected. That is why I am Anatha, without any worldly resort or master. But if you want to know the spiritual master, it is Arihanta Mahavir.”
“Who is Mahavir?” asked the king.
“Sir, fifteen miles from here, in your town of Rajagruha, he is living a beautiful life. Go there and see for yourself. ”
Because of the young man’s word, Bimbisara went to visit Mahavir and then and there became his disciple. He became his patron as well, and throughout his life he supported both Mahavir and Buddha, who also came to live and teach in the region at that time. Bimbisara de-voted his life to supporting the teachings and all the good causes because he felt it was his mission.
When we meditate on unprotectedness, we gain a different level of understanding. We see that the real help comes from the pure stream of consciousness. It is like a current that is always flowing. When we need it, we will have it. It is always there. We have only to remove the curtain and open ourselves to that energy whose nature is infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite vision. We have only to turn our consciousness inward to connect with life. It is our sharana, our wellspring, our reserve strength, our invisible refuge, which will not exhaust itself at any time.
If you are able to connect with this source, then you are not helpless, for you are protected from within. As soon as you start knowing this protection, you start lifting yourself. The sinking boat begins to float.
Use this meditation as the young monk Anatha and King Bimbisara did. Take time to go on watching and pondering. Whenever fear comes, ask, “Why am I afraid? What is this anxiety? What is the cause of the fear? The cause is that I am not connected to my invisible world.”
Build inner strength and power by connecting to the invisible world of these vibrations. Chant aloud or silently the entire mantra as follows.
Cattari Mangalam are the Four Blessings .
Arihanta Conquerers of inner weaknesses are blessing.
Siddha Mangalum Perfect Souls are blessing.
Sahu Mangalum Saints are blessing.
Kevali Pannato Dhammo The Teaching which has come from the Omniscient
Mangalum Ones is blessing.
Cattari Loguttama These Four are supreme, unsurpassed.
Arihanta Loguttama Arihanta are supreme.
Siddha Loguttama Siddha are supreme.
Sahu Loguttama Saints are supreme.
Kevali Pannato Dhammo The Teaching which has come from the Omniscient
Loguttamo Ones is supreme.
Cattari Sharanum Pavajjami These are the four protections
Arihante Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of the Arihanta.
Siddhe Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of the siddha.
Sahu Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of the sahu.
Kevali Pannatum Dhammum I merge with the Pure Teaching- Non-violence,
Sharanum Pavajjami Peace, Love, Love, Compassion.
When your small self merges with these four protections, the Higher Self, your reality, emerges.
Seed Thoughts For Meditation
I am becoming aware of unprotectedness. One by one, I see that the things and persons on whom I depend are themselves helpless.
Let me turn my consciousness away from the temporary dependencies and connect with the pure stream of life which is prevailing. Merging with that consciousness, I find my everlasting protection, my inner world.
Let me experience the eternity of life, the eternal flow. That one wave has come means another wave has subsided. Birth is nothing but somewhere else a death. So this is the process– something merges so that something else may emerge.