In this excerpt from Trauma Informed Dharma, Miles talks about refuge and how that relates to the creation of sacred spaces in community, what that looks like and how they allow us to learn and grow spiritually, together. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the video.
There are actually six refuges. There are three that are considered outer and three that are considered inner. But there's only one true refuge.
The three outer ones are the Buddha, the first human being that woke up and discovered the nature of reality. The second refuge is his teachings and methodology that have been preserved in an unbroken lineage from master to student, from mouth to ear to realization, from concept to knowing to becoming from intelligence to something in the heart, to full embodiment for centuries. That is the dharma. And then there is the sangha, the members of community that structure their micro-culture, organize a micro-culture around this pursuit and support each other. And I mean we're talking about sacred space at Mindstream and continuing the Contemplative Studies Program.
I think that this is an important thing to raise. Have you noticed the absolute volatility of the world right now? Have you noticed the level of intensity in the dialogue, people ripping each other's throats and heads off? Have you noticed that? Have you noticed that the world's societies are in utter fragmentation? Have you felt, in your own personal life, this severing of a relationship because of this absolute tumult? Or known someone who you would have never imagined that it would have happened to, but it has happened in this polarized, stigmatized upheaval? Do you know what I'm talking about?
Creating a sacred space also requires a consensual agreement among us that we won't participate in that madness. Sacred space is not just a set of bricks and mortar with some intentionality. A sacred space is an agreement. It's an agreement that we will take responsibility for our own upheavals and we will try to protect the greater good of the people that we are communing with. Can you do that? Can you not fall prey to the mob mentality that exists in the world right now? And take responsibility for whatever hiccups may arise, whatever unpleasantries, whatever perceptions, take responsibility for them. If we all agree to do that, we can make this space safe for learning.
There's this word, coherence, that I was talking to my astrologer about yesterday. Do not break the coherence, she said. Do not break the coherence. It's so important that we create a space of mutual respect. That does not mean that we have to agree. It means mutual respect first. And we're going to go into some difficult territory in the course of this module. And things are probably going to get activated, and you have to take personal responsibility, and then the duty of the fellow sangha members is to keep the coherence, not break into factions, not break and splinter and fragment like what's going on out there. I'm going to hold you to account to this.
I'm accountable to it only as much as I can be responsible for my own mind and my own reactivity. But we each have to do that. This is perhaps the biggest significance of what it means to have a space or hold a space together for this kind of vital work. As we do that, we create an environment where a real refuge can take place, a real refuge not in the Buddha as an external figure of history and a vestige of history, but of your own potential: the development of your own potentials, your ability to tolerate and sort through the mess of your life so that you can find something in there that has always been there of value. It's not out there, it's in here.
There's so much inner turmoil that gets magnified and amplified by what's happening out there that we all have a duty to each other to keep the coherence. Say it with me: keep the coherence. That's what it means roughly: to take refuge is to remember who you are in a long legacy, a journey to awaken, to remember your innate good qualities, to abandon your negative qualities that have been following you through ancestry that you are the recipient of, to finally take care of what your family lineage has not been able to take care of, and to cultivate all the beauty that you have inside of you.
This is the purpose of our life. This is the purpose of your life. A real deep spiritual education. This is why you're here, to graduate. As long as it takes, together. And then you can buy and sell. You can go to work. You can go on vacations. No one's saying that's not possible. It's just the heart, what's at the heart.