Taking Refuge and Precepts

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Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:32 pm

Not really sure what topic this comes under so just thought i would put it here.

Does one have to take refuge and take the precepts formerly i.e. at a monastery or temple in order to be considered a Theravada Buddhist or even a true Buddhist.

I have never been to a temple or been on retreat because where I live the nearest Theravada Monastery is quite far away and it has been difficult for me to be able to travel to it. Despite not having had a formal ceremony I still recite my precepts and my refuge daily and take them seriously. To my mind I dont think you need a ceremony to take the precepts and go for refuge.

Am I wrong?

:namaste:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Will » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:50 pm

No, but you would be more correct and it would help your practice in future, if you did make the extra effort to take formal refuge from a bhikkhu.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:04 pm

Greetings Will,
Will wrote:No, but you would be more correct and it would help your practice in future, if you did make the extra effort to take formal refuge from a bhikkhu.


I agree with the first word, but if you could elaborate on the rest from a Theravadin perspective I would appreciate that.

Unless the causality in question can be understood, it risks binding one more tightly to the fetter of "attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies".

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:15 pm

I would have done it already but its difficult with my current circumstances. To me going for refuge and taking the precepts comes from within, I dont think you need a ceramony in order to take them.

I do intend to take them formerly the first chance I get though.

Do you just ask the bhikkhu for them? (as you can probably tell my knowledge of Theravada ceremonies is lacking)
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Will » Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:22 pm

Advice from Bhikkhu Bodhi; see paragraph 6, The Methods of Going for Refuge:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#ref4
Last edited by Will on Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:29 am

Hi retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Will,
Will wrote:No, but you would be more correct and it would help your practice in future, if you did make the extra effort to take formal refuge from a bhikkhu.


I agree with the first word, but if you could elaborate on the rest from a Theravadin perspective I would appreciate that.

Unless the causality in question can be understood, it risks binding one more tightly to the fetter of "attachment to rites, rituals, and ceremonies".

I think you are in danger of advocating an abandonment of the raft at the near, rather than far, shore.

I find that taking refuges and precepts "in person" (which I do in a group almost every week, and often have to request and recite by myself when beginning and ending a retreat) is an extremely potent reminder of what I am committed to. It reinforces my gratitude to the Buddha and my "live" teachers and strengthens my faith.

Metta
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby appicchato » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:06 am

clw_uk wrote:I do intend to take them formerly the first chance I get though.


Great!...You've got the right intention...in the interim I wouldn't worry about it too much...

Also in the interim, may I recommend the following:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el076.html

Be well... :smile:
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:12 am

clw_uk wrote:Does one have to take refuge and take the precepts formerly i.e. at a monastery or temple in order to be considered a Theravada Buddhist or even a true Buddhist.

Nope. :)

clw_uk wrote:Despite not having had a formal ceremony I still recite my precepts and my refuge daily and take them seriously.

Awesome. :twothumbsup:

clw_uk wrote:I do intend to take them formerly the first chance I get though.

Also awesome. :twothumbsup: I think one really benefits from taking refuge formally with a monastic.

clw_uk wrote:Do you just ask the bhikkhu for them?

Yep. :)
- Peter

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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Jason » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:44 am

clw_uk wrote:Does one have to take refuge and take the precepts formerly i.e. at a monastery or temple in order to be considered a Theravada Buddhist or even a true Buddhist.

I have never been to a temple or been on retreat because where I live the nearest Theravada Monastery is quite far away and it has been difficult for me to be able to travel to it. Despite not having had a formal ceremony I still recite my precepts and my refuge daily and take them seriously. To my mind I dont think you need a ceremony to take the precepts and go for refuge.

Am I wrong?


No, you are not wrong. What you are doing is perfectly OK.
Last edited by Jason on Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:04 am

Hi Craig,

An efficacious going for refuge entails approaching the Three Jewels both by way of objective field (visaya) and by way of appropriate duty or task (kicca). An action by way of the mind-door alone will fulfil these two conditions only in one case, namely, when a Noble Person goes for refuge by cutting off his defilements (saraṇagamanupakkilesasamucchedanaṃ). For a worlding, a merely mental act would fulfil visaya, but a supplementary act by way of the speech-door or body-door is necessary to fulfil kicca. It's not necessary to go to any special place or to visit a bhikkhu to do this, though traditionally visiting a bhikkhu to request the refuges is the most common way of fulfilling kicca.

From Buddhaghosa’s account of refuge-going (saraṇa-gamanaṃ) in the Paramatthajotikā:

    Now regarding the ‘going’ etc.: “It counters”, therefore it is a refuge; the meaning is that when people have gone for refuge, then by that very act of going, the refuge counters, dispels, carries off, and causes to cease, their fear, anguish, suffering, defilement, and risk of rebirth in the lower realms.

    Or alternatively:
    He combats the fears of living beings by promoting their welfare and preventing their harm, thus he is called the Buddha.
    It provides a way of crossing over the desert of existence and gives comfort, thus it is called the Dhamma.
    It causes the obtaining of abundant fruitfulness from small actions, thus it is called the Sangha.
    So in this way the refuge is also that threefold Jewel.

    The going for refuge consists in the arising of a citta:

    * from which defilements have been removed and eliminated;
    * which is possessed of confidence in the threefold Jewel and veneration for it;
    * which inclines to acceptance of the threefold Jewel as its highest value;

    Whether in the immediate presence of one of the Jewels, or without any external prompting, a being in whom the above factors arise is said to go for refuge when, prompted by that citta, he avows: “This is my refuge; this is my highest value [or “my going to the further shore”],” (esa me saraṇaṃ, esa me parāyaṇaṃ).

Buddhaghosa then continues by describing sundry acts that are each reckoned as tantamount to going for refuge, provided that they are prompted by the kind of citta described above:

    * An undertaking (samādānaṃ), as in cases like that of the two merchants, Tapussa and Bhallika, thus: “Venerable sir, we go for refuge to the Blessed One and to the Dhamma; let the Blessed One remember us as upāsakas,” (ete mayaṃ, bhante, bhagavantaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāma, dhammañca, upāsake no bhagavā dhāretu).

    * An assuming of the status of a pupil (sissabhāvūpagamanaṃ), as in the case of Mahākassapa etc., thus: “Venerable sir, the Blessed One is my teacher, I am his disciple,” (satthā me, bhante, bhagavā, sāvako’ham’asmi).

    * An inclination towards it (tappoṇattaṃ), as in the case of the brāhmaṇa Brahmāyu, thus: ‘When this was said, the brāhmaṇa Brahmāyu rose from his seat, and arranging his upper robe on one shoulder, he raised his hands palms together towards where the Blessed One was staying, and uttered this udāna three times: “Homage to that Blessed One, the Arahant and Perfectly Awakened One!” (namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa).

    * A self-dedication (attasanniyyātanaṃ), as in the case of meditators devoting themselves to a meditation subject.

    * Going for refuge by cutting off one’s defilements (saraṇagamanupakkilesasamucchedanaṃ), as in the case of Noble Persons.
    (KhpA. 16-17. This is my own rather free, explanatory translation, since the more literal rendering by Ñāṇamoli in Minor Readings & Illustrator is rather difficult to understand)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Will » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:28 am

Thank you much Bhante Appicchato, this is another excellent teaching.

When Buddhagosha says, in the last sentence:

This last explanation is based upon the fact that in the Pali language, the verbal roots denoting "going" (gati) may also have the meaning of "knowing" (buddhi). Therefore the words "I go for refuge to the Buddha" may also be taken to express the idea: "I know and understand him to be the refuge."


that is something of deep meaning. I assume "know & understand" mean much more than intellectual knowing. The conventional meaning suggests a "going" or a path, a process; while the latter a direct insight or experience.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Anagarika Sevaka » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:06 am

Hello Will,
You have received many good answers here. Finding myself in similar circumstances,I remember writing to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama once, seeking guidance on the same question. The reply I received from one of the 14th Dalai Lama's assistants was:
"In response to your question "how does one become a Buddhist", it is entirely through one's own faith. A person becomes a Buddhist when he/she accepts by heart that the three jewels-Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as genuine protectors of oneself and other sentient beings from the sufferings of Samsara."
Certainly many take the Triple Gem by what is sometimes described as the common or mundane way, incorporating Refuge Vows in their daily practice. It is true ,though, that great peace and joy comes from receiving them in the supramundane way; from an ordained Bhikkhu in good standing, with meaningful ceremony and surrounded by friends in witness, as well as support.
As a member of Saddhamma Sangha, I would invite you to visit:

http://what-buddha-said.net/sangha/Saddhamma_Sangha.htm

I wish you peace, love, and joy in your path! It is a life-long process of practice with many lamps by which to light your way.

With Metta,
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby green » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:53 pm

Unfortuneatly, the taking of the refuge from an ordained monk or nun is not always possible -- I think I am lucky to have a Buddhist temple near by (it is being constructed as we speak, when it will open I don't know)-- but they don't speak english.

I do agree with the Dalai Lama, the true refuge is taken in the heart when we understand Buddha Dhamma as true. This allows individual practitioners to take refuge anywhere in the world without having to depend on anyone. The internet makes it possible to distribute it throughout the world. But the appropriate translations are very delayed.
There should be English, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic translations immediately and they should be along side the original pali in their respective alphabets.

I hope in this way too, the Tipitika gets distributed to these individual practitioners...I hope they will have the pocket edition of the Tipitaka. :smile:
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Snowmelt » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:38 am

clw_uk wrote:Not really sure what topic this comes under so just thought i would put it here.

Does one have to take refuge and take the precepts formerly i.e. at a monastery or temple in order to be considered a Theravada Buddhist or even a true Buddhist.

I have never been to a temple or been on retreat because where I live the nearest Theravada Monastery is quite far away and it has been difficult for me to be able to travel to it. Despite not having had a formal ceremony I still recite my precepts and my refuge daily and take them seriously. To my mind I dont think you need a ceremony to take the precepts and go for refuge.

Am I wrong?

:namaste:


In my opinion, you are not wrong. I have been an "Internet Buddhist" for all of the time I have been following the Dhamma; about two years now. I have only seen a monastic face to face once, but I certainly consider myself a Buddhist. I studied, I practiced, I listened, I read, I posted, and came at last to the point where I realised that I had accepted the Dhamma into my heart.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Snowmelt » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:48 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi retro,
I find that taking refuges and precepts "in person" (which I do in a group almost every week, and often have to request and recite by myself when beginning and ending a retreat) is an extremely potent reminder of what I am committed to. It reinforces my gratitude to the Buddha and my "live" teachers and strengthens my faith.


Speaking for myself, I require no reminder: the Dhamma is almost constantly in my thoughts throughout the waking hours, along with the joy and peace it brings. So many situations arise and I find myself responding to them with ways and means that I have learned from the Dhamma, while still remembering how I used to respond to them (that is, unskilfully :) ). Obviously, it is very good to be physically together with other Dhamma followers, but I find I am very mindful of the Dhamma, and treasure it greatly, without this.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:57 pm

in a book I have by a former monk in the back he specifically says the formality is not necessary all you have to do is live by them to considder yourself a buddhist (not a direct quote), the saying them and the monks presence is a added bonus I guess.
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Re: Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:11 pm

Thank you green, snowmelt and manapa

I to agree that the real refuge is taken inside us my practicing and understanding Dhamma

:anjali:
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Taking Refuge and Precepts

Postby GrahamR » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:13 am

clw_uk wrote:I have never been to a temple or been on retreat because where I live the nearest Theravada Monastery is quite far away and it has been difficult for me to be able to travel to it. :namaste:


Hi
The main 4 Therevada temples in the UK have local groups which meet in people's houses or in halls.
If you tell me where you live (privately if you wish) I can tell you where your nearest group is.
It's not quite like going to a temple, but it's still helpful
With metta :bow:
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