I take refuge in the Buddha,
that means I take refuge in the courage and the potential of fearlessness,
of removing all the armor that covers this awakeness of mine.
I am awake;
I will spend my life taking this armor off.
Nobody else can take it off because nobody else knows where all the little locks are,
nobody else knows where it’s sewed up tight,
where it’s going to take a lot of work to get that particular iron thread untied.
People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong,
that means that they did something bad and they are being punished.
That’s not the idea at all.
The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.
The most fundamental aggression to ourselves,
the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves,
is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.
The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with.
To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.
We work on ourselves in order to help others,
but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.
What’s encouraging about meditation is that,
even if we shut down,
we can no longer shut down in ignorance.
We see very clearly that we’re closing off. T
hat in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.