By taking refuge in the Buddhist tradition, in some sense we become homeless refugees. Taking refuge does not mean that we are helpless and handing all of our problems over to somebody or something else. The point of becoming a refugee here is to give up our attachment to basic security. We have to give up our sense of home ground, which is illusory anyway. There is actually no solid basis of security in one’s life. Basically we are lost and confused. Relating to that sense of being lost and confused, we are more open. We begin to see that in seeking security, we can’t grasp onto anything; everything continually washes out and becomes shaky, constantly, all the time. And that is what is called life.
So becoming a refugee is acknowledging that we are homeless and groundless, and it is acknowledging that there is really no need for home, or ground. Taking refuge is an expression of freedom, because as refugees, we are no longer bounded by the need for security. Acknowledging that the only real working basis is oneself and that there is no way around that, we take refuge.
From The Heart of the Buddha, pages 87 to 88. Published by Shambhala Publications.