Wk6, Day2: The First Refuge
I’ve always been an avid reader. As a child, I spent hours in the Fairfield public library. Beginning with the card catalog, remember those? The dusty scent of the years-old softened paper index cards held in place with a single hole punch in the bottom center of the card. Proudly applying my Dewey decimal training, I’d track down the aisle of books storing a topic of interest and follow my way from one book to the next, winding up with an untenable pile by my side when my mother finally found me sitting on the cold marble floor reading a find. “Pick three,” she’d say. An impossible task that I’d nonetheless accomplish each time.
I never thought I’d find joy in reading for pleasure again after a decade of training then working in academia. Or writing again, for that matter. A true personal loss, both thankfully only temporary. I never thought I’d want to study again after the past six months preparing for the licensure exam. I’m so grateful that after only a week off, those scholarly urges re-emerged.
So much has been happening in meditation practice the past five weeks. An important first step has been articulating the experiences first-hand. Now, I’m curious what the teachings have to say about it. Coincidentally, the teachings are the second refuge.
There is so much in the teachings; these initial explorations are necessarily cursory. For now, I seek labels and constructs. Over the years, their depths will unfold.
Last week, I looked into dukkha. This week, I’ve had repeated experiences with the first of three jewels or refuges: “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Many of the contemplations I’ve read on this refuge explain that it means to align with one’s own capacity to awaken. The awakening experiences people have described seem similar to the glimpses of timelessness and open space emerging in recent meditations.
Over the weeks, this meditation process is taking the form of an infinity loop: the practice teaches firsthand, sending me to the teachings for deeper understanding, sending me back to the practice, anon. Being a writer has a similar quality: writing what wants to be written, then reading and conversing to fill the well and gain some perspective, then writing and revising, then back to reading and conversing. Being a therapist has this quality as well: the more I work on myself, the more space I can provide clients, the more I find to clear from myself, the more space I can offer clients.
A gratifying life’s worth of work.