Taking Refuge means taking the Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma), and the Sangha as one’s primary guidance and protection, and keeping the Refuge vows and commitments. Geshe Tsultrim will bestow the ceremony in an unbroken lineage from the time of the Buddha. In this ceremony new students can take refuge for the first time, and established students can renew their vows.
Bookings are essential if this is your first time! However, everyone is welcome to come along! If you would like to accompany your family, but do not want to make the refuge commitment, you are still very welcome to come along, sit in and listen, and find out what refuge means.
Geshe-la will give the refuge and lay vows in an unbroken lineage from the time of the Buddha, and he will become your preceptor. Taking the Refuge Vow for life, is to avoid harming or killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxicants. You must be able to take the main vow – to avoid harming or killing – but may leave out some of others if you know for certain you cannot keep them. The decision is a private one – you yourself must be clear which ones you are taking – but there is no need obligation to tell anyone!
As a new “refugee” you receive a refuge booklet outlining the vows as well as the refuge commitments. You also receive a Tibetan Refuge name. Geshe-la will explain the refuge commitments and the vows during the ceremony. Wear nice, clean or special clothes (your Sunday best!). You may wish to bring a small offering. We have offering scarves (khatas) in the gompa to borrow if you don’t have your own.
We highly recommend that you complete the Discovering Buddhism course Refuge in the Three Jewels, or undertake similar study, prior to this ceremony. It is important that you understand what the qualities of the refuge objects are, how to correctly go for refuge every day, and how to keep and maintain the vows (and restore them if they weaken).