Author Topic: Should I take refuge?  (Read 3237 times)

Offline KarmaPolice

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Re: Should I take refuge?
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2010, 09:53:10 am »
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That said, the idea of Buddhist refuge is that it is taken when one has come to the conclusion, from deep within, that the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are the only guides capable of leading one to liberation from samsara and complete enlightenment, and that therefore one will no longer look elsewhere for such guidance . . . f you're very interested in the Dharma but don't have this sort of irreversible confidence in the 3 Jewels, it's best not to take refuge and pronounce something you may just end up breaking, but instead keep learning, contemplating, and meditating on what you find beneficial in Buddhism and see where it takes you.
That's an interesting thought. I do believe fully that the practice of the dharma is the correct path for me, but I cannot say that no one can attain liberation through belief systems other than Buddhism. I don't believe any religion has a monopoly on truth.

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Bhikkhu Samahita suggests we consider renewing our refuge vows each Poya day:
Nice article. Thanks!

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How can you say you have no relationship to him?
You both share the dhamma, the Buddhas priceless teachings, isn't that is enough. You share an uncommon path towards enlightenment. Wonderful !
Good point. I suppose that, as all beings are dependent on one another, he and I do share a relationship--even if we've never met.

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It will just be a matter of who and when.  I've taken teachings from Gar Rinpoche and I must say, this is an awesome opportunity!  Though you haven't met him before, having the chance to meet with him now and even take refuge with him could be such a blessing.
That really does sound like an incredible experience; thank you for sharing that. :)

I think I will take refuge, but there is one issue that gives me pause. The information regarding the ceremony states that each person participating will make a vow to never intentionally take a life. This is something I agree with and consider part of my practice. Yet, I'm well aware of the fact that there may be situations in which killing another might be the least possible evil (defending innocent bystanders from a violent attacker, for example). Although the probability of encountering such a situation is low, I know that the potential exists. So, can I rightfully make that vow? What are your thoughts?
Breathing in, we are born
Breathing out, we die
Our life, lasting but the space between them
A mere moment, in an infinite history


Attachment is a choice. The choice to be free of attachment has existed from the moment we first made the choice to be attached. We just get so used to making choices based on attachment that we never realize that we're actually making choices at all.

Offline Ngawang Drolma

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Re: Should I take refuge?
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2010, 12:42:10 pm »
Hi Karma Police,

My opinion (to be taken with a grain of salt) is that if you don't feel ready yet, there will always be the opportunity for formal refuge when you are ready.  For right now, the desire to take refuge in and of itself is a form of refuge.

Regarding that particular vow, we all can only do our best.  For as long as we remain in samsara it will be impossible to have the wisdom and perfection of a Buddha.  But when you make these vows (ultimately to yourself) and do your best to keep to them, you are doing well.  That's the best any of us can hope for, is to do our best.  If you were ever presented with a horrible situation in which you had to protect yourself from a violent aggressor, it would not only be understandable but you could try to take the path of least harm.  In other words trying to disable the person first, escaping, and so on could be a first course of action.

We also have purification practices that are free to all.  Because we as humans do mess up, we have ways of making efforts to account for our own actions and seek purification.  This isn't really a ticket to do anything and just follow up with confession and purification, but as a last resort when you regret your actions and seek to rectify them, it's an aid in the process.

I hope this helps, metta to you  :)

Best,
Laura

Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Should I take refuge?
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2010, 03:55:15 pm »
That's an interesting thought. I do believe fully that the practice of the dharma is the correct path for me, but I cannot say that no one can attain liberation through belief systems other than Buddhism. I don't believe any religion has a monopoly on truth.
Well, no religion defines either samsara or liberation the way Buddhism does. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam explain reality in terms of creator and creation and promise an eternal heaven, and the various Hindu schools have their versions of creation and liberation which differ fundamentally from Buddhism. I won't get into the idea of composite, created things being contrary to Buddhism's teachings on impermanence and interdependent origination, or even the Buddhist logical arguments against the tenability of a creator god, and instead I'll ask you which liberation you believe in and aim for. If it is liberation as the Buddha taught about it, then only Buddhism can bring that because only Buddhism aims for that and contains methods that correspond to the goal. Now, if we're talking about the ability of all the major religions to make kind, honest, compassionate people, then I agree that all major religions have that capacity, but to say all have the same capacity for the Buddhist idea of liberation is to force upon them philosophical principles, tenets and methods they don't accept. In any case, the only point I intended to make was that when one takes refuge in the 3 Jewels, one is pronouncing that one will no longer look beyond the 3 Jewels for one's own guidance to liberation (and buddhahood, if Mahayana). That is one of the refuge vows.

I think I will take refuge, but there is one issue that gives me pause. The information regarding the ceremony states that each person participating will make a vow to never intentionally take a life. This is something I agree with and consider part of my practice. Yet, I'm well aware of the fact that there may be situations in which killing another might be the least possible evil (defending innocent bystanders from a violent attacker, for example). Although the probability of encountering such a situation is low, I know that the potential exists. So, can I rightfully make that vow? What are your thoughts?
This is probably a highly unlikely scenario. Why forfeit a lifetime of riding the positive momentum created by training in observing the vows - not to mention the benefits in future lifetimes - due to the possibility of an unlikely scenario? Also, if that unlikely scenario were to arise, if one takes one's vows seriously, then one would be trying to do whatever possible to avoid killing the attacker. If in the process of trying to save others one accidentally killed the attacker when that wasn't one's intention, that wouldn't constitute breakage of the vow. Or if one had to make the split second decision to kill him because there was no other way, if one were to do so not out of anger but with great regret that it was necessary, then the act of killing wouldn't be complete from the Buddhist standpoint since intentional killing by definition requires that one act under the influence of either anger, attachment, or ignorance. If one were a Mahayanist then, presumably, later one would say prayers for the attacker and do meritorious acts on his (and all beings') behalf and dedicate the merit to their enlightenment.

In any case, one of a Buddhist's jobs is to always be training in avoiding harming others, which means beginning to look at things differently. Instead of using the worldly mentality of turning so quickly to violence as the solution, we are presumably nurturing the seeds of trying to avoid it as best we can and of trying to actively benefit others as best we can. Training in this way will break down the impulse to anger and violence and give one a better chance of approaching some semblance of equanimity in the type of scenario you mentioned, making it a little more feasible for one to really wish not to kill the attacker while trying to stop him.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 04:11:21 pm by Pema Rigdzin »

 


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