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In this dharma talk given at Downtown New York Meditation Community last week, Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes what it means to take refuge in the dharma. He explains that the need to take refuge in the dharma is predicated upon a sense of danger that always faces us, external danger as well as danger to the mind. Refuge provides protection from both. The ultimate protection, however, is nirvana, which is one of many words for the goal of Buddhist practice. Interestingly enough, other words for nirvana, Thanissaro Bhikkhu suggests, might be translated as "security," "harbor," "protection," or "refuge."
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"Refuge in the Dharma," Downtown New York Meditation Community, 3/14/2013