Tibetan: Chab-su Chi
English: Go for refuge.
The Tibetan skyabs (Chab) means refuge, protection, help.
Su means in or to.
mChi means to go.
All of us go for refuge in something. Often it is a power outside of us- a god, an idea, an authority. In the West, refuge often takes the form of money, power, success and status. We put our hopes in them and put in a lot of effort thinking that when we get there they will provide for us. If you look closely at the decisions you make, short term and long term, you will gain some insight into where you are putting your refuge.
A Buddhist is someone who puts there refuge in the Three Jewels- the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Buddha is the teacher, the Dharma the teaching, and the Sangha is the supporting community. Khachab Rinpoche emphasizes that of the Three Jewels, the most important is the Dharma, the teaching.
Dharma is our entryway. When we practice the Dharma, we gain our own experience. As we deepen our experience we gain confidence in the teaching and in our practice. Confidence and understanding in our practice give way to realization and actual benefit. As we witness this benefit and realization in ourselves, we begin to trust and respect the teacher and the community that supports the teaching.
Our practice of the Dharma leads to us taking refuge. Refuge is based on experience, not blind faith. You can believe that the Dharma will benefit you, but until you have truly practiced your place of refuge can easily shift and change. One day you are a eager practitioner of the Buddha's teachings, the next you are following a fad diet and a new business scheme. Where is your refuge?
Refuge is actually extremely profound to contemplate on a day to day basis.
If you have a bad day at work, where is your refuge? Is it your practice? Or is it a glass of wine, a movie or the weekend?
If you get in an argument with your partner, where is your refuge? Is it your practice? Or is it a food binge, a cigarette or a pedal to the metal car ride?
If you encounter sickness, fear and doubt, where is your refuge? Is it your practice? Or is someone going to come save you, bail you out, take away your problems?
Most of our bad habits are due to a mistaken refuge based on neurosis and negative emotions.
Taking refuge in the Three Jewels and in your practice seems extremely heavy. It is a lot of responsibility, but would you want anything else?
Do you want something else?