Problems with taking refuge

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Problems with taking refuge

Postby qwerty13 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:51 pm

Recently i have begun to really understand what it means to take refuge from buddha, dharma and sangha. And i do know that this is the whole foundation of my practice. I also know that saying and meaning it that "i take refuge from budha, dharma and sangha" has a lot of benefits for me. When i do that i am taking a certain direction in my life so that i can keep realizing and expressing my buddha-nature over and overagain.

But there is a problem. A big problem. When - for example in the beginning of deity sadhana-i say from bottom of my heart "i take refuge....." i get a feeling of devotion, but that is followed by growing FEAR. I get a feeling that i am losing something and i am afraid of where this devotion will take me. Then I try to explain things to myself: " relax now, there is nothing to be afraid of.... you wont lose anything... Let`s just get to main practice, it will go away." But it wont. Then i resort in to some
weird-ass tactics in order to get the same devotion but without fear of losing something. And it never works.

Worst part is that more i generate devotion the more fear i feel. At first that fear is small but during the day it increases to point where i am thinking "is this really for me? I know i want to practice but i cant get through basic step without feeling fear."

What the hell is going on?

If you have any advices or explanations on my situation please share them.
People love emotional confusion. Just look at the film posters in front of the cinema: nothing but emotional confusion on their faces. Buddha-dharma means not putting yourself at the mercy of emotional confusion. In the world, on the other hand, a big fuss is made over nothing.

-Kodo Sawaki
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby Will » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:44 pm

Which deity is your practice focused on?
Only consider helping others and forget yourself. Master Hsuan Hua
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby Ayu » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:10 pm

Maybe you should start climbing towers.
See, how stable one is built, be informed about the materials and the construction - and then climb it. Breathing in and out thoroughly.
Seriously. :heart:
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby qwerty13 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:25 pm

Will wrote:Which deity is your practice focused on?


I`m focusing on Chenrezig.
People love emotional confusion. Just look at the film posters in front of the cinema: nothing but emotional confusion on their faces. Buddha-dharma means not putting yourself at the mercy of emotional confusion. In the world, on the other hand, a big fuss is made over nothing.

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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby smcj » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:30 pm

You are barking up the right tree.

Basic Teachings say that our own defiled mind, emotions, and actions are what keep us in the cycle of dissatisfaction and suffering. So what you are taking refuge from is your own mind. You can put it in the terms of refuge from your own b.s., or your own limited understanding, or any of a number of parts of your internal makeup you choose. But chief among them is "taking refuge" from your own criticisms, preconditions, and bad behavior. But most of all, we take refuge from our fear(s).

Since this website is Mahayana & Vajrayana oriented, let us say that it is a given that underneath it all, that there is a "rightness" (self-perfection) to all things. It is we that have made things all wrong by how we view life, feel about it, and behave (thus creating karmically negative situations). The idea of "refuge" contains within it the idea of safety. So we stop relying on our fears to keep us safe, and find safety in the truly sane. Relying on our fears to keep us safe is saying, "I don't know how to do this, and it could be painful, so I must avoid it." Our fears are the initial experience of our problem.

Don't worry, you won't loose anything that you would want to keep. A sick patient wants to loose his illness, unless he is a hypochondriac that is afraid of being well. A prison inmate wants to lose captivity, unless he is frightened by the idea of freedom. So when you are doing your practice, don't struggle with your fears, just recognize them as being confronted by the limitation of the moment.

I`m focusing on Chenrezig

There is absolutely nothing to fear in Chenrezig.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby Will » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:01 pm

qwerty13 wrote:
Will wrote:Which deity is your practice focused on?


I`m focusing on Chenrezig.


As Patrul Rinpoche taught:

The only never-failing, constant refuge is the Three Jewels;The Three Jewels' single essence is Chenrezi.


So the heart of the Three Gems is Great Compassion, Wisdom & Power -which is Avalokiteshwara or Chenrezi.
Only consider helping others and forget yourself. Master Hsuan Hua
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:09 pm

What the hell is going on?


You have to see that. Pehaps your 'devotional effort' is actually causing this feeling of fear. I think feeling that there is some great benefit to be gained, might be linked to a fear that there really is no benefit. That could be manifesting as:

"is this really for me? I know i want to practice but i cant get through basic step without feeling fear."

Here is one way of looking at it - realizing that practice is not 'for me'. It is not something that 'I benefit from'. I think you need to release that sense of personal involvement and become somewhat more detached from it. That is a difficult thing to do, but it is difficult in a different kind of way to the difficulties you are currently experiencing. I think it is related to what Chogyam Trungpa referred to as 'balanced disillusionment'.

There is a saying, I think in the Diamond Sutra, which says "I have realized ultimate truth and I have not gained anything thereby".

BUT - all of this could be mistaken or not applicable in your case so you need to make the assessment yourself.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby smcj » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:12 pm

The only never-failing, constant refuge is the Three Jewels;The Three Jewels' single essence is Chenrezi.


So the heart of the Three Gems is Great Compassion, Wisdom & Power -which is Avalokiteshwara or Chenrezi.

The scariest thing a frightened person can do is trust. Chenrezig can be trusted totally. It's your own defilements and karma that are the problem. (It may take you some time for the karma to clear enough for you to see that.)
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby qwerty13 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:41 pm

smcj wrote:Don't worry, you won't loose anything that you would want to keep. A sick patient wants to loose his illness, unless he is a hypochondriac that is afraid of being well. A prison inmate wants to lose captivity, unless he is frightened by the idea of freedom. So when you are doing your practice, don't struggle with your fears, just recognize them as being confronted by the limitation of the moment.


Yes, i think you are right. The content of the fear is that I dont know what I will become. I am afraid that I might become somehow ABNORMAL. Fear that I am not LIKE OTHERS, like NORMAL people. NORMAL PEOPLE with their emotional confusion and ignorance. I guess I am afraid of losing this concept of "me".

Ego is trying to defend itself by using fear as a weapon.

That would make sense.
People love emotional confusion. Just look at the film posters in front of the cinema: nothing but emotional confusion on their faces. Buddha-dharma means not putting yourself at the mercy of emotional confusion. In the world, on the other hand, a big fuss is made over nothing.

-Kodo Sawaki
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:47 am

I had almost this exact same experience..I feel like sadhana is alot more direct in some ways than something like shamatha or vipssanna, especially self generation. to a degree I wonder if this ends up magnifying things like fear. I'd had the same thing during just sitting before, but nowhere near so intense.

Anyway, the advice I was given was to just keep going, it does go away, and is part of the process I think.

Naturally, you should definitely get with your teacher on this, some people even say this is a sign of the practice working. Also if you have alot of questions or confusion about what you are supposed to do when, or feel like you don't understand the practice, or somehow shouldn't be doing it, it's reassuring to get qualified answers to allay that stuff, this helped me as well.

Also don't expect different things of the practice, if you do it for a while you will have all kinds of different days with all kinds of different experiences, they are all complete, and correct in their way.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby smcj » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:52 am

The content of the fear is that I dont know what I will become. I am afraid that I might become somehow ABNORMAL. Fear that I am not LIKE OTHERS, like NORMAL people. NORMAL PEOPLE with their emotional confusion and ignorance.

Suffering/dissatisfaction is our first clue that "NORMAL" is somehow a problem (=the 1st Noble Truth). It is how the universe gets our attention to tell us that "NORMAL" isn't good enough. The Buddha didn't create that situation, he just articulated what was already the case.

But if you are at the point where "NORMAL" is no longer your refuge, you NEED a qualified teacher, otherwise you'll go in the wrong direction. All to often people think that they must do something dramatically bizarre in order to consummate their new direction. Best to not leave that kind of normal. Find a legitimate teacher with a good reputation.

You want to take refuge from your own craziness. You don't want to think you are doing that and actually give free reign to it.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Problems with taking refuge

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:04 pm

qwerty13 wrote:Recently i have begun to really understand what it means to take refuge from buddha, dharma and sangha. And i do know that this is the whole foundation of my practice. I also know that saying and meaning it that "i take refuge from budha, dharma and sangha" has a lot of benefits for me. When i do that i am taking a certain direction in my life so that i can keep realizing and expressing my buddha-nature over and overagain.

But there is a problem. A big problem. When - for example in the beginning of deity sadhana-i say from bottom of my heart "i take refuge....." i get a feeling of devotion, but that is followed by growing FEAR. I get a feeling that i am losing something and i am afraid of where this devotion will take me. Then I try to explain things to myself: " relax now, there is nothing to be afraid of.... you wont lose anything... Let`s just get to main practice, it will go away." But it wont. Then i resort in to some
weird-ass tactics in order to get the same devotion but without fear of losing something. And it never works.

Worst part is that more i generate devotion the more fear i feel. At first that fear is small but during the day it increases to point where i am thinking "is this really for me? I know i want to practice but i cant get through basic step without feeling fear."

What the hell is going on?

If you have any advices or explanations on my situation please share them.


Here's what comes to me off teh top of my head from reading your post. I hope it helps, if it doesn't sound right, please ignore it!
It's great that devotion is coming naturally to you. . . it is interesting that it is bringing up fear. Did you know that the classical motivator for refuge is fear? (not devotion!) So if your fear comes up in response to taking refuge, it could help to examine exactly what refuge means to you. If you are conflating refuge with devotion, the fear would make sense - because the devotion you describe, while a good sign, is a temporal phenomenon and subject to change. Part of you probably senses this, and so the fear comes up. It is like you are seeking footing on unsteady ground, because you know the devotion could leave you at any moment. When the fear comes up - essentially a fear of change, or a fear of death (same difference), try to understand, in light of the 4NT how refuge is actually safety from change and death. Could also help to spend more time on 4 thoughts that turn the mind.
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