A refuge within yourself

“Now we tend to think these bodies are pretty, delightful, long lasting and strong. We tend to think that we will  never age, sicken, or die. We are charmed and fooled, and we are ignorant of the true refuge within ourselves. The true refuge is the mind.

So the Buddha said to find your refuge. That means find your real heart. This heart is very important. People don’t usually look at important things; they spend most of their time with unimportant things. For example, when they do their housecleaning they may be bent on sweeping the floors, washing the dishes, and so on, but they fail to notice their own hearts. Their heart may be rotten, they may be feeling angry, and they’re washing the dishes wearing a sour expression. This is what I call “taking a temporary shelter for a refuge.” They beautify house and home, but they don’t think of beautifying their own hearts. They don’t examine suffering. Who else can be your refuge? The true refuge is the heart, nothing else. You may try to depend on other things, but they aren’t dependable. You can only really depend on other things if you already have a refuge within yourself.

So please consider this teaching. Ask yourselves “Who am I? Why am I here? Why was I born?” Some people don’t know. They want to be happy, but the suffering never stops. Rich or poor, young or old, they suffer just the same. It’s all suffering. And why? Because they have no wisdom. The poor are unhappy because they don’t have enough, and the rich are unhappy because they have too much.”

– Food for the Heart, The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah


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