Author Topic: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.  (Read 10438 times)

Offline Sunya

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2011, 08:38:47 am »
Moral action that is not faith based is a source of confidence, for sure. I can personally attest to this as well. Although I don't take refuge, I practice what the Buddha taught (sila, prajna, samadhi). My question is: is refuge truly necessary for morality?

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2011, 09:40:16 am »
The general concensus is that Refuge is required for one to consider themselves a "Buddhist", but moral action is by no means the exclusive property of Buddhism... it's the foundation of any practice or tradition that is inclusive and life-affirming, just like the spirit of the Bodhisattva ideal in general.

For example, even the Jainist triple gem mirrors the Buddhist version, with the exception that their's emphasises that ratnatraya is the right vision or view (Samyak Darshana), right knowledge (Samyak Gyana) and right conduct (Samyak Charitra), that this is their refuge.

My reply isn't related to what came first, the chicken or the egg, but the existence of a common theme.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 09:44:16 am by incognito »

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2011, 06:39:30 am »
Moral action that is not faith based is a source of confidence, for sure. I can personally attest to this as well. Although I don't take refuge, I practice what the Buddha taught (sila, prajna, samadhi). My question is: is refuge truly necessary for morality?
My response would be that you actually have taken refuge, at least in the Dharma and maybe the Buddha, but you just may not have gone through a ceremony or sought refuge in the Sangha. Buddhist and non-Buddhist are just labels. Whether it is necessary to formally take refuge really depends on the individual, just as different practices are more appropriate to some based on where they are in their life. It was necessary for me. It felt like a concrete starting point at a time when there wasn't much stability in my life, or even in my mind. Understanding that there was compassion in the world was difficult, and the compassion I felt during meditation by myself (in myself as well as for myself) and in a group that I found took on a very concrete characteristic that did not require any blind devotion. I don't think everyone needs that, but I don't think that nobody needs it either. I am not a fan of painting these issues with a broad brush or becoming "stern" or wrathful when people question them (although I have in the past). But, considering my own situation, I can see why people seek to defend these conventions passionately and emotionally. It was likely an important turning point for them as well. I think that the individuality and nuance of the Dharma is often painted over when we seek to reduce it to logic, reason, or universal necessity. It is here for everyone, so obviously there will be differing opinions about it all. Compassion is useful in understanding the roots of these differing opinions.

Offline Sunya

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2011, 03:02:06 pm »
In the meditation group I attend, we'll occasionally recite the refuge vows (Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami), but simply saying them does not mean I invest my full and undying trust in any of the above. As alluded to elsewhere on this forum, it would be inappropriate for someone like me to take refuge or claim to be a Buddhist. I do, however, take a deep interest in both practice and study.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2011, 01:44:29 am »
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simply saying them does not mean I invest my full and undying trust in any of the above.

Quote
I practice what the Buddha taught

Seems clear to me.

Offline Sunya

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2011, 07:27:27 am »
Practice differs from belief.

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2011, 06:15:33 am »
Which is why I sought to stress the less faith/belief oriented aspect of Refuge, that is seeing an example of practice and wisdom within the Triple Jewel, or in one or more aspects of it. We take refuge in the Dharma, which is an instruction for for practice, not simply a philosophical exercise.

Still, a more basic question would be why would you practice what the Buddha taught if you did not believe in it, that is think it was worth practicing?

If calling it refuge bothers you somehow, then you don't have to call it that. I just think it happens to be a distinction without a difference. There are many other examples of morality that you could use; Christ, Zoroaster, the law of the land. But you did specifically say that you practiced what the Buddha taught. Just saying.

Offline Sunya

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2011, 07:58:09 am »
Which is why I sought to stress the less faith/belief oriented aspect of Refuge, that is seeing an example of practice and wisdom within the Triple Jewel, or in one or more aspects of it. We take refuge in the Dharma, which is an instruction for for practice, not simply a philosophical exercise.

Still, a more basic question would be why would you practice what the Buddha taught if you did not believe in it, that is think it was worth practicing?

If calling it refuge bothers you somehow, then you don't have to call it that. I just think it happens to be a distinction without a difference. There are many other examples of morality that you could use; Christ, Zoroaster, the law of the land. But you did specifically say that you practiced what the Buddha taught. Just saying.

You do understand that there are teachings the Buddha gave which can't be practiced as much as they can be believed?

I find immense value in the practical aspects of the Buddha's teachings, which I've observed to have a positive impact in my own life. I find the Buddha's ethics stronger than those of other religious teachers. I am fond of most of what he taught, while very little of what many others have taught interests me as much.

Yet there remain those who claim the Buddha taught the existence of cosmological realms and other things I believe have no utility for me. In my reading of the Sutta Pitaka and Mahayana Sutras, the textual evidence in support of this abounds. I don't believe there are heavens such as Tushita, Purelands such as Sukhavati, hells such as Avici, devas, asuras, pretas, or that rebirth is an irrefutable fact of life. I take the above to be metaphorical (except for rebirth, which I find considerably more plausible, yet still unnecessary as a belief). These things may very well exist, but I find no reason to believe in them.

I do not believe the Buddha was omniscient and infallible. I do not take every word he is said to have spoken as Truth (capital "T"). I do not believe that simply because the Buddha said something, it must be so.

In another thread, it was suggested that it wouldn't make sense to take refuge and then refute that refuge. I refute the idea that the Buddha was perfect in every possible way. Would it be reasonable to take refuge in teachings, which taken as a whole, I do not accept? I believe that would make me a hypocrite of sorts. This is why I don't take refuge.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2011, 08:06:48 am »
... we'll occasionally recite the refuge vows (Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami).

I've been chanting those every day for many years...hopefully it will eventually sink in. :wink1:

Spiny

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2011, 09:42:27 am »
Which is why I sought to stress the less faith/belief oriented aspect of Refuge, that is seeing an example of practice and wisdom within the Triple Jewel, or in one or more aspects of it. We take refuge in the Dharma, which is an instruction for for practice, not simply a philosophical exercise.

Still, a more basic question would be why would you practice what the Buddha taught if you did not believe in it, that is think it was worth practicing?

If calling it refuge bothers you somehow, then you don't have to call it that. I just think it happens to be a distinction without a difference. There are many other examples of morality that you could use; Christ, Zoroaster, the law of the land. But you did specifically say that you practiced what the Buddha taught. Just saying.

You do understand that there are teachings the Buddha gave which can't be practiced as much as they can be believed?

I find immense value in the practical aspects of the Buddha's teachings, which I've observed to have a positive impact in my own life. I find the Buddha's ethics stronger than those of other religious teachers. I am fond of most of what he taught, while very little of what many others have taught interests me as much.

Yet there remain those who claim the Buddha taught the existence of cosmological realms and other things I believe have no utility for me. In my reading of the Sutta Pitaka and Mahayana Sutras, the textual evidence in support of this abounds. I don't believe there are heavens such as Tushita, Purelands such as Sukhavati, hells such as Avici, devas, asuras, pretas, or that rebirth is an irrefutable fact of life. I take the above to be metaphorical (except for rebirth, which I find considerably more plausible, yet still unnecessary as a belief). These things may very well exist, but I find no reason to believe in them.

I do not believe the Buddha was omniscient and infallible. I do not take every word he is said to have spoken as Truth (capital "T"). I do not believe that simply because the Buddha said something, it must be so.

In another thread, it was suggested that it wouldn't make sense to take refuge and then refute that refuge. I refute the idea that the Buddha was perfect in every possible way. Would it be reasonable to take refuge in teachings, which taken as a whole, I do not accept? I believe that would make me a hypocrite of sorts. This is why I don't take refuge.
I think that there are schools of Buddhism that would agree with you on most if not all of that. As far as taking Refuge and then refuting it, I think that this happens more when people enjoy the idea of Buddhism, take refuge, and then don't really put it into practice. As I also mentioned in another thread, I tend to think people have reasons for beleiving what they believe and what they don't, even if it is in conflict with what I believe. I think many people approach Buddhism with an absolutism that runs counter to what the teachings intended. In my logical mind, I think the only real teachings we can ascribe to the Buddha, or as being entirely necessary to Buddhist practice, are the 4NT's, which necessarily include the 8FP. It is clear to me that even the Pali cannon had multiple contributors. However, my own practice requires that I take a much less of a logical approach, since my logic never really helped me with the many problems that I have. I my case logic often becomes an obstacle to practice, whereas belief and faith has become a way of removing the obstacles. I understand that is not necessary for everyone.

Offline Will

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2011, 02:35:06 pm »
I find it's hard to take refuge in the sangha - I had a bad experience with one sangha and had to change groups.

Refuge is taken in the Arya Sangha of the 8 Mahasattvas like Avalokita, Vajrapani, Manjushri, Samantabhadra et al; not in the monastic sangha.  See the Uttaratantra section 4 on the "irreversible Bodhisattvas" that are worthy to take Refuge in.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 02:46:11 pm by Skull »
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline Will

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2011, 02:54:13 pm »
For a much deeper view of the Three Jewels, ponder on this text:  http://bibleoteca.narod.ru/uttaratantra.pdf
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline t

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2011, 07:35:04 pm »
Quote
I find it's hard to take refuge in the sangha - I had a bad experience with one sangha and had to change groups.
Quote
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn11/sn11.003.than.html
'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types of noble disciples when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types [1] — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the unexcelled field of merit for the world.'

[1]
The four pairs are
(1) the person on the path to stream-entry, the person experiencing the fruit of Stream-entry;
(2) the person on the path to once-returning, the person experiencing the fruit of Once-returning;
(3) the person on the path to non-returning, the person experiencing the fruit of Non-returning;
(4) the person on the path to arahantship, the person experiencing the fruit of Arahantship.
The eight individuals are the eight types forming these four pairs.

In the Mahayana scheme, I guess you could also add in those on & experiencing the fruit of the Bodhisattva Path...

Offline Gesar

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2011, 09:51:29 pm »
Who did the Buddha take refuge in?
I've never been to a sangha that offered refuge vows. That hasn't stopped me from practicing and learning.  :hmmm:

Offline t

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Re: Taking Refuge: The way to become a Buddhist.
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2011, 12:32:32 am »
Quote
Who did the Buddha take refuge in?

Garava Sutta

 


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