For most people being safe means being safe from external harm. For example, not experiencing physical injury from an accident or devastating illness, not suffering financial harm due to a downturn in the stock market or loss of job, preventing the breakup of a relationship. In general, safety means preventing external events from happening.
People thus spend their lives trying to prevent what cannot be prevented. As the saying goes, “bad things happen.” It is an inescapable fact of life. And so people live in fear and are frustrated by their efforts to change their environment to one in which they feel safe. Thus defined, safety or security is an impossible goal.
But for a Buddhist, being safe means something altogether different. It means being free of mental suffering. We understand that we cannot change the way the world is, we cannot change the things that we will experience in life. Things will happen that will cause us harm and pain.
But it is in our power not to experience suffering by any downturns in life, whether it be financial, relational, or health. We cannot escape experiencing the related harm and pain, but we can prevent our suffering because that is a mental state caused by the ego-mind. (See my post, “The Distinction between Pain and Suffering.”)
When we are one with our heart, with our true Buddha self, free of the intervention of our ego-mind, when we are free of the emotions, judgments, cravings, attachments, and criticisms that flow from the ego-mind, then regardless what life throws at us, we will be ok, we will be safe, because we have returned home to our heart, to our Buddha mind, and so will be at peace and happy. Even if the darkest things happen to us, we will not lose that state of purity and peace; people may try to defile us, but we cannot be defiled. (See my book, Making Your Way in Life as a Buddhist.)