Meditation Categories Taking Refuge

56. Classification of Taking Refuge

Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 56

The Beginning

Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.

The Main Part

Meditate on the different levels of refuge taking:

The refuge of the lesser path: Beings of lesser capacity fear the sufferings of the three lower realms and wish for the happiness of higher realms. With this motivation, they take refuge in the Three Jewels. However, the happiness they are after is only temporary and unstable.

The refuge of the middling path: Beings of middling capacity see all the three realms as a pit of fire. Fearing the suffering of samsara, and wishing to attain individual peace and happiness the like of Sravaka’s and Pratyekabuddha’s, they take refuge in the Three Jewels. However, this kind refuge is not ultimate either, since it aims only for personal liberation from samsara without concerns for others.

The refuge of the higher path: Beings of higher capacity realize that all sentient beings have been one’s own fathers and mothers, and all of them are tormented by the sufferings of samsara. Finding this situation unbearable, they take refuge in the Three Jewels in order to help them break free from samsara. The aim of this refuge is to establish all of the infinity of beings in the state of perfect Buddhahood.

Having understood these three categories of taking refuge, resolve: I shall abandon the motivations of the lesser and middling paths, and follow the beings of higher capacity to take refuge in the Three Jewels for the sake of all sentient beings.


Previously, I have emphasized many times this kind of motivation, which old timers here must know well and have of taken refuge accordingly. For newcomers, you may have taken refuge for years, but you could have been motivated by the fear of samsara or by bitter personal sufferings, and the thought of benefiting others might never occur to you.

If this is the case, then, from today on you will make your refuge vows.  This is not unlike the swearing-in ceremony for presidents-elect in Western countries, when they speak their oaths with God as a witness. For us, with the Three Jewels as our witnesses, we vow to take refuge for the sake of all sentient beings. Actually, taking refuge is like taking an oath, and we arouse bodhichitta on a vast scale to perform it.

The Ending

Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.