The old notion of shelter, includes sanctuary, hospitality, food, warmth, and the idea that if you can swim to the island or get through the door of the temple or throw a shoe over the wall of the monastery, then no one can kill you or arrest you, or make you go back to your employer or owner, no matter what taboo you have broken or what you have done. The powers of the world are in abeyance, the powers of the brightness rule. 

It’s nice to know that there is somewhere to go when the usual places won’t have you. In the old hospitable traditions, a guest arrives and you feed them and offer a bath and fresh clothes, before you ask names and reasons for visiting. I like that. I would like it if we did that with the haunted people arriving at our borders. 

Refuge and sanctuary are also inner events. Meditation with koans is a refuge. You are free from the stain of wherever you came from and the implications of whatever sorrow, shame, failure, or tribulation you have suffered. 

In refuge you do not regret your life. The past is gone, the future has not arrived, here is here. Refuge is the understanding that you are living the right life, available only to you. You live more and more of your life. Refuge is also a way to think of the year gone and the year to come. The koan is the City of Refuge, the breath is the Sanctuary; refuge is always here, now.

Join us for a talk Monday night. –  John

This talk will be live-streamed on our YouTube page in case you  can’t join us.


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