Refuge, Science and Inner Protection
We need a new ways of relating to refuge beyond the fear of rebirth and birth in lower realms refuge. As a practitioner matures there will be many different forms, stages and development of deeper refuge. One aspect of refuge is based on knowledge of what will benefit and what will harm. These discriminative realizations can be approached in various methods.
Traditional debate uses true refuge as reliable syllogisms and basis for other knowledge in combination with other verified truths. This is a spiritual scientific approach to refuge.
Science is a method of testing and measuring to arrive at conclusions that will forward other hypotheses. The quantification of the world; length, height, depth, weight and on to probable locations of electrons is an important collection of information and knowledge.
Then there are people who seek knowledge so they can learn to talk to flowers.
There are many kind, well meaning people, who study hard and collect information toward the quantification of non-ordinary realities also, such as the personalities of flowers and what stones are saying as knowledge bases.
In Buddhism we do not think these are spiritual subjects although others often have placed Tibetan “inner scientists” in the same category. The knowledge of flowers and stones or tree spirits is definitely non-ordinary quantifications. You can learn so much to become knowledgeable about the unseen world and non-ordinary realities, but it doesn’t set you free!
We believe in Tibetan system that anything that doesn’t set you free is not a spiritual path. Some may think a ghost is like a spirit, and therefore if you talk to ghosts you are spiritual, but that isn’t a spiritual path to interact and trust ghosts.
These kinds of things don’t require the courage of conviction of your potential for transcendent transformation. Earth bound living beings should not act as inner guidance for humans who are really only temporary residents on their way to perfection. In order to understand how serious we are about this we take a special vow to not rely or take refuge in worldly spirits.
So we turn toward reliable refuge using logic and reason in addition to feeling safer. You must move beyond your present capabilities and strategies for spiritual success.
This vow combined with sincere refuge and desire for enlightenment will act as protection against possible harm that might be caused by unenlightened spirits. This is possible without relying on unknown inner forces that might be inviting and seductive in gathering to their way of being.
Tibetan lamas are trained to separate spirits from practitioners who are beginning to shine on the inside and can attract them without realizing it. One of the important reasons we take refuge is to not get caught and lose the path to higher development.