Last year One Dharma held a Refuge and Precepts Ceremony for dharma practitioners who wanted to formally take the vows and reflect their commitment to the Buddhist path. We will be offering this opportunity again in December. Generally, at least one year of Buddhist practice experience is recommended before taking the precepts, although there are exceptions. Here is some general information:
About the Refuge Ceremony
Taking refuge means relying wholeheartedly on the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to inspire and guide us toward a constructive and beneficial direction in our lives. The real taking of refuge occurs deep in our hearts and isn’t dependent on doing or saying anything. Nevertheless, we may wish to participate in the refuge ceremony by requesting a dharma teacher to formally give us refuge. The refuge ceremony is simple: we repeat the passages after the teacher and open our hearts to make a strong connection with the Three Jewels. The ceremony also “officially” makes us a Buddhist.
About Taking Precepts
Precepts are a joy, not a burden. They aren’t designed to keep us from having a good time and to make us feel deprived. The purpose of taking precepts is to give us internal strength so that we won’t act in ways that we don’t want to. Having understood that killing, stealing, selfishness and so forth only lead us to harm ourselves and others now and in the future, we’ll want to avoid these. Taking precepts give us energy and strength to do so. Therefore, it’s said that precepts are the ornaments of the wise.
To help people overcome their disturbing attitudes and stop committing harmful actions, the Buddha set out five precepts. During the refuge ceremony, in addition to taking refuge in the Three Jewels, we can take any or all of the five precepts, and become a lay Buddhist.
The five precepts
1. I observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from falsehood.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.
The refrain “I observe the precept of abstaining from …” which begins every precept clearly shows that these are not commandments. They are, indeed, ethical codes of conduct that lay Buddhists willingly undertake out of clear understanding and conviction that they are good for both themselves and for society.
If you are interested or have questions, please contact email@example.com. For planning purposes, I’ll need to hear from you by November 8. If you’d like to see photos from last year, click on this link.
Lisa, I would very much like to renew my refuge vows.