Taking Refuge: Ceremony

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Posted by Sergio ( on August 10, 2000 at 04:38:59:

Hi all. I was requested to explain what is the ceremony of taking refuge, so I’d like to share it with all: (sorry for my broken english)

Taking refuge ceremony is the ritual to become officially Buddhist, taking refuge for the rest of your life in the 3 jewels. This ceremony must be leaded by a serious lama or spiritual master, and it uses to incorporate several people. If your root lama or spiritual master leads it, better. In the ceremony you receive a spiritual name by your master.

People who take refuge make the compromise of taking the 5 precepts:

1. Avoid killing
2. Avoid stilling
3. Avoid sexual misconduct
4. Avoid lying
5. Avoid taking intoxicants.

You also take 12 vows:

1. Do not take refuge in not Buddhist teachers, samsaric gods or no-Buddhist spiritual traditions (Jesus, Allah, etc.).
2. To consider any image of the Buddha as the real Buddha.
3. Do not harm anyone.
4. To consider any scripture of Dharma as a real Jewel of the Dharma..
5. To avoid be influenced by people who refuse the Buddha’s teachings.
6. To consider any man or woman dressing the clothes of a Buddhist monk or noun as a high Dharma Jewel and respect and help this people as much as we can.
7. To take refuge in the 3 jewel all the time, remembering their great qualities and differences between them
8. To offer all your food and drinks to the 3 jewels, remembering their generosity..
9. To teach with compassion to those who are interested the benefits of the 3 jewels.
10. Remembering the benefits of the 3 jewels, take refuge at least 3 times at day and 3 at night..
11. To make any action with complete trust in the 3 jewels.
12. Do not betray or refuse the 3 jewels, even if you have to pay it with your life.

Of course that a person who takes refuge is someone who is absolutely sure that wants to follow the Buddhist path, and this person should have studied and practised the teachings and realise that they give results. You must be absolutely sure that the 3 jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) will be your main objects of refuge, instead of mundane things. You are taking refuge in them, because you have analysed previously that they are for you the best refuges. You must not hurry about taking refuge, you must take your time until you are sure that you want to follow the Buddhist Path. If you still think that perhaps God is out there waiting for you at the end of your life, then you are not ready for this ceremony.
You do this ceremony with the motivation to benefit all sentient beings reaching the Buddha’s state. In some occasions, you also take the Boddhisatva vows in this ceremony.
After this ceremony you must not think about quitting Buddhism or changing to other spiritual tradition, not even as a joke. In the ceremony you receive instructions about how to cultivate your refuge, and how to set up an altar. After this ceremony, you enter to the energy field of the “Buddhist family”, which is represented as Mandalas in several iconography’s. You get protection from the 3 jewels for the rest of your life and maybe in future life spans. This is a very important step to get contact with the 3 jewels in future lives. The positive karma you create after this moment is bigger if you think you are doing positive actions with refuge in the 3 jewels and in the vows you took. If you break any of your 5 precepts, the negative karma will be exponentially bigger, but you can purify it much more easily.

You can take the refuge ceremony again as many times as you want, and it will reinforce your refuge.
For a monk or a noun this ceremony is similar, but they take more than 300 precepts, instead of 5. So I think it is not so difficult to respect our simple 5 precepts.

I hope it be useful!


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