“Our nature is pure like the clear sky above, and our wisdom is like the sun and the moon, our wisdom is always shining. But if externally we become attached to objects, the clouds of delusion cover up our nature, and we can’t see it. Then, because we meet a good friend who explains the true teaching, our delusions are blown away and everything inside and outside becomes perfectly clear, and the ten thousand dharmas in this nature of ours all appear. This nature of ours in which the ten thousand dharmas are present is what we mean by the pure Dharma body. Those of you who take refuge in yourselves, if you get rid of bad thoughts and bad practices, this is called taking refuge.”
The Platform Sutra, pg 154
The practice of taking refuge is often done in a ceremonial fashion, in a sangha or temple, with a Monk reciting things and you reciting things. In essence, you are simply making a commitment to a path. You are not committing to any one (living) teacher or any one ‘True Dharam teaching as taught by this school’. You are simply saying that you accept responsibility for your own health and well being. Although I may accept instruction, ideas, suggestions, compliments, or criticism to help guide me, everything I need is already here. I am already a Monk, a bodhisattva, an enlightened being, whatever term you want to use. Maybe better said is simply a complete human. I need to commit to a practice to help me remember that; to find that part of myself; to recognize my best face; to help others remember theirs.