What is refuge? Thinking about it today, it seems as though it is turning the mind to the 3 Jewels as the default goto for all situations, including difficult situations but also in other situations. By applying the Dharma to all situations, then every situation can be improved upon, the experience and the outcomes can be better, and it can become more meaningful. I guess I am saying that refuge is when everything becomes folded in to the path.
Normally my default goto is what I call the Eric Cartman voice. Eric Cartman is of course the very funny but terribly toxic character from the South Park TV series. He is self-serving, manipulative, and doesn’t learn from episode to episode. Eric Cartman makes for a funny TV series, but his is not the helpful voice of reason in a difficult situation or while making important life decisions!!
For example, if a person says something mildly rude or confrontational to me.
(a) Eric Cartman immediately rushes in saying “son of a bitch, how dare that person speak to me like that!! They can die a million times over, die, die, die!! Screw them and their lives, I’m going home”. I’m exaggerating here, usually it is far more subtle and conniving.
(b) Whereas if I were applying the teachings then maybe I would think that what they said was mildly rude or confrontational. But I will leave them alone, having compassion for their state of mind, wishing for them to always be happy and be well. Maybe it would be appropriate to saying something or maybe not, but my words would have a very positive motivation.
Conclusion: Going forward I will attempt to bypass the inner Eric Cartman voice and I will apply the Dharma to all situations and fold everything into the path, to the best of my abilities.