Initiation: Refuge Vows

Since I’m a novice Chan priest, I can offer the Refuge Vows with my teacher’s go-ahead.

This is one of the few places where one can take Precepts and formally enter the Buddhist Path over the internet. Taking Refuge and the Five Precepts is the entryway into us being formal Buddhists. The Three Treasures we take Refuge in are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Buddha doesn’t just represent the historical Siddhartha Gautama, but also the Buddha-nature that exists in all of us. The Buddha represents Enlightenment. The Dharma is the teachings, but also the true nature of all things, the teachings we can observe all around us. The Dharma represents truth. The Sangha is the community of fellow practitioners, but also all beings. The Sangha represents purity.

Along with the Three Treasures, we also take the Five Precepts:

I vow to abstain from taking life.
I vow to abstain from taking things not given.
I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust.
I vow to abstain from lying.
I vow to abstain from intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness.

Those seem straightforward, but there are several subtleties to each that we have to figure out as we go along. They’re not commandments, but general rules of thumb that say, “If you avoid these behaviors, then you’ll have a better chance at uncovering unconditional joy, well-being, equanimity, and wisdom.”

After Taking Refuge and receiving the Five Precepts, you’ll receive the title Upasaka/Upasika and a Dharma name.

I can do the ceremony over Zoom, Google Hangouts, or in person if you’re willing to travel to Ottawa, Illinois. If you’re interested, feel free to let me know.

Take care,
John