The purpose of this meditation is to generate a very strong feeling of going for refuge to the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. From there, we consider what this determination means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.

I began with breathing meditation, starting with looking at the gross signs of my breath, such as the sound of my breath and the feel of my clothes as they move against my skin. After a while I looked for more subtle signs of my breath, such as the feeling of the air as it enters and leaves my nose. Again, after a while I simply focused on the idea of the breath and then finally I let go of that focus, and let my mind fill with a complete unfocused emptiness. I floated in the emptiness for a while, enjoying the complete absence of sensation and thought.

Following this, I started my main meditation by reminding myself of the value of my precious human life. I have such an amazing opportunity at the moment. An opportunity to make my life truly meaningful for myself and others. I then reminded myself that my life will soon be over. The years are flying by, and soon I will be reaching the end of my life, wondering where it all went.

I then thought about what I need to do with my life. I need to concentrate on making it meaningful. I need to receive the blessings of Buddha and the help of the Sangha so that I can build the Dharma Jewel in my mind. I focused on the feeling of going for refuge to Buddha. Through his compassionate intention and virtuous deeds, and my strong wish to rely upon him, I will receive his blessings. I felt his blessings rain down upon me and I focused on this feeling for a while.

I then thought about the Sangha – my spiritual friends. It occurred to me that my Sangha is everyone around me, not just my friends at my local Buddhist Centre. Everyone I meet can show me the truth of Dharma – all I need to do is observe their lives and their actions, and the truth of Dharma will be confirmed.

Finally I thought about the Dharma itself. The perfection of wisdom and compassion which I can slowly construct in my mind, and thereby become free from all suffering. I imagined the Dharma protecting me and setting me free from my current limited state.

Then I tried to bring these three thoughts together into a single wish to take refuge in the Three perfect Jewels. I felt like I was protected and pure, and I focused on this feeling for a while.

Finally, I thought about what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. Strictly speaking, this practice involves the abandonment of self-cherishing and its replacement with the cherishing of others. But it struck me that in terms of going for refuge to the Three Jewels, I am abandoning my refuge in mundane objects as a source of protection from suffering, and replacing it with taking refuge in the supramundane objects: the Three Jewels. With the thought of this exchange of mundane for supramundane, I returned to my feeling of being protected by my taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Once the feeling was strong, I focused on it for the rest of my session.

Dedication

May all living beings find the wisdom to turn away from the causes of suffering, and take refuge in the causes of protection, finally to attain the permanent protection of enlightenment, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to always keep my refuge in my heart, and recognise all living beings as my kind Sangha, who are ready to teach me the truth of the Dharma.