The previous article described how, by reflecting on old age death, we will come to realise impermanence. This article explains how, by reflecting on old age death, we will come to realise refuge and compassion.
By reflecting on old age and death we come to realise the following:
2. Refuge: Refuge is akin to taking sanctuary in the Buddha as a teacher, the Buddha’s teachings (the Dharma), and the Buddhist community (the Sangha). But having taken sanctuary we live our lives according to the Buddha’s teachings. Modern forms of sanctuary typically take the following forms:
- NetFlix series or exciting new music.
- Escape from your bed at home to a faraway holiday escape.
- A new haircut or clothes to define a “new you”.
- Purchasing a new product at the supermarket through to a new car.
- Finding a new job, new work colleagues, or new friends.
In each case we might be trying to find an escape from our problems or find a new salve to sooth away our problems. There is nothing wrong with taking pleasure in these short term enjoyments. The issue is that these are no long term solutions. But despite these forms of escapism, there you are. You can’t have a holiday from yourself, even in Ibiza or in a dream.
The Dharma is about changing your mind and changing yourself in a far more meaningful way. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha for various reasons. By reflecting on old age and death we come to realise that while taking pleasure from short term enjoyments, they do not stop the suffering that we experience throughout our lives. We must still face aging, sickness, and death mostly by ourselves.