With my Chan teacher’s go-ahead, I can preside over the Refuge Vows ceremony.
Taking Refuge and the Five Precepts is the entryway into us being formal Buddhists. Like, you could mark it as your religion on a census. The Refuge Vows are:
I take Refuge in the Buddha.
I take Refuge in the Dharma.
I take Refuge in the Sangha.
The Buddha is the historical Siddhartha Gautama, as well as the awake space in all of us. The Dharma is the written and oral teachings, and the natural principles of reality that those teachings are based on. The Sangha is the community of Buddhist practitioners, and the enlightened hearts of all beings in general.
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, Hangouts, or in person in if you’re willing to travel to Ottawa, Illinois. If you’re interested, feel free to let me know.