Subject: Taking the Refuge and Five Precepts
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 20:57:45 -0400
From: “Vincent Ng”
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please enlighten me on the following:
Is it true that one is not considered a true Buddhist if one has not taken refuge in the triple gems and the 5 precepts. Also, is it true that these must be taken ceremonially with a presiding monk/nun to really mean anything at all. Some also have said that after taking refuge in the triple gems, one is assure if not guaranteed of being not born within the lower realm of hell and animals. Taking the 5 precepts guarantees one to be born into the three higher realms of human, and gods. Are these, in fact, mentioned in the sutras spoken by the Buddha.
I will certainly appreciate your opinions
Taking refuge is like signing a contract, a spiritual contract. You have seen some helpful truth in Buddhism, or feel the desire to grow as a better person. You have decided to take the Buddha as your model in a good and happy life (you may also take Guanyin or some other aspects of the Buddha as models). You have decided to follow the Dharma in a small way or big way as your method of personal development. You are inspired by the lives of the holy Saints and admire their life of harmony and goodness. If you have all these thoughts confidently in you, you have already taken refuge.
Traditionally, we approach a practicing and good Sanghin (monk or nun) and with our friends and others as witnesses (often done in groups) officially recite the Namo Tassa, the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts before the Buddha image. However, it need not be so ceremonious. This can be done during any Puja or worship service (like the Sunday puja) when a monk administers the mentioned verses.
The important thing is to remember those things (the spirit of it) in the first paragraph here. More important than the outward recitation of Taking Refuge is the inward spirit with which you live the Three Jewels, and practice the Dharma. The Buddha says that you honour him best by practicing his Teachings.
With the Refuges as inspiration and the Precepts as guide, and not intentionally breaking the Precepts, and maintaining a happy and compassionate mind, you are guaranteed not to be reborn lower than the human realm (see the Ratana Sutta).
It does not end here. As a compassionate Buddhist, you should also encourage others to see the wonders of the Refuges and the healing powers of the Precepts. This is also an important aspect of Buddhist living: thinking and caring about others, especially those who are near and dear.