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Refuge thoughts and sources of Dharma material......

AlexAlex Explorer
edited March 18 in Buddhism Basics

I’ve recently taken refuge privately (in a personal ceremony that I saw on here) ahead of a more structured approach re joining up with a Sangha (which involves some not inconsiderable travelling). This has not been a rushed, impulsive thing and I’ve been reading various Buddhist books and online material for about 3 years - I don’t consider that a refuge ceremony in a temple would make me more of a Buddhist than I am now, but it’s something I am happy to do in due course and it may well develop that I want to.

A few things that keep crossing my mind and a question.....

  • I have read online that there are those who seem to indicate that one may not credibly call themselves a Buddhist if they have not been through a formal refuge ceremony in a Sangha / temple. Some of those environments demand a lengthy period of commitment, taking no account of a person’s attitude, knowledge, etc., before a refuge ceremony may be undertaken. An observation - If one wanted to say, become a Christian, then one would be able to convert immediately by opening their heart, etc., and could then identify themselves as a Christian and no person on this planet could conceivably question that person re their faith, only their depth of knowledge perhaps. So, are we to believe that Buddhism is more of a ‘closed shop’ and does not easily open up to new folks ? The Buddha wanted people to think for themselves and only use what made rational sense and I do struggle with the belief that a formal refuge ceremony is the only way to be a Buddhist, albeit I am in no way denigrating the value of a formal refuge. It might be a more visible way, but the only way ? Hmmmmm ? I do sometimes feel that this stance plays into satisfaction of Man’s ego within hierarchical structures. I feel that If people want to do it and it feels skilful and helpful to them, great. If they want to take refuge personally and quietly, that’s also great and no weaker or more diluted at all.

  • Reading the Dharma, Sūtras etc., - what is a good source of material for these please ? Any recommendations welcome ?

Thank you so much for any help you can give.
Alex

BunksShoshin

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 18

    Hello Alex, :)

    Welcome to NewBuddhist.
    Now that you have taken refuge, you are a Lay Buddhist. Just so you know. Don't believe everything Buddhists say. Develop your discernment ...

    I would recommend anything that grabs your fancy but here might be a start ...
    https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page/web-links

    BunksAlexperson
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited March 18

    Hi @Alex! Welcome

    Not sure what tradition or environment you’re referring to but I’d suggest if you have privately taken refuge in the three jewels then you can most definitely consider yourself a Buddhist. As Lobster stated above, don’t believe everything Buddhists say.

    As for reading material, if you’re inclination is toward the Theravadan tradition (Pali Canon) then you could start with “In the Buddha’s Words” by Bhikkhu Bhodi. He’s taken the most relevant Suttas from the various sources and collated them so as to describe the Buddha’s awakening from leaving the palace through to full enlightenment.

    If you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism (Gelug) then can I suggest “Liberation in the Palm of your Hand”. It is the most thorough overview of the Lamrim I have found. There are shorter versions and commentaries you can find as well.

    Good luck! You are blessed to have found this path

    Alexpersonlobster
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Hi and welcome @Alex I would echo others here. I hope you enjoy our online Sangha
    _ /\ _

    Alex
  • DhammikaDhammika Veteran

    Welcome @Alex . To add to the suggestions, you can find a searchable contemporary translation of the Buddhist suttas at http://suttacentral.com. Also, Bhante Gunaratana’s 8 Lifetime Precepts and the Refuges are offered at the end of some retreats at the Bhavana Society Monastery in West Virginia— http://bhavanasociety.org. There is also a lively online international lay sangha (with a monk or nun or two popping in and out) on the Discord app on the Student of the Path server. ??

    Alexpersonlobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited March 19

    Buddhism has its hardened fundamentalist sects too, so you can find Buddhists who want things more formal and structured. I think you'll find overall though that most tend to be pretty open and welcoming in terms of who gets to think of themselves as a Buddhist.

    I agree with others suggestions on where to start.

    Here is an online library of free texts. Much of it is scholarly work but you'll find the classic, What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula there and a few other gems.

    http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/Library.html

    KundoDhammikalobsterAlex
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 19

    Now that you have taken personal refuge and are a Buddhist, might be time to recommend reading up on meditation ...
    https://cundi.weebly.com/meditation.html

    o:)

    Alex
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited March 19

    Perhaps this will provide a bit more insight into Buddhism... @Alex....

    Alex
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    Thank you so much everyone, sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your very kind comments and thoughts - I’m trying various strands of Buddhism this week, there is a group sitting every evening Monday - Wednesday in the City about 15 miles away, so I’m experimenting each night as to which group dynamic feels right, etc,, - the Theravadan / Samatha is winning out so far, Zen this evening !

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Hi @Alex, and welcome...!
    Has anyone pointed you towards the online full, diverse and extremely comprehensive site that is accesstoinsight? It's a lifetime's worth of study...

    We're also blessed to have, as a member, an ordained Theravada Monk, BhikkuJayasara, who came to us long before his ordination... For obvious reasons, he's not in attendance quite as often as he used to be, but several threads and comments have enriched our forum...

    Alex
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited March 19

    Hi @Alex, nice to meet you!

    From everything I’ve learnt in the past two years, since I “became” a Buddhist, it’s not so much about the rituals and ceremonies; it’s more about your personal practice, which it sounds like you’re developing and enjoying. I think taking refuge officially, which I’d really like to do one day, is an opportunity to affirm your commitment, but it’s not essential for entry into the club.

    I’m finding it tricky to settle into a tradition. Lots of the British groups are not quite right for me. NKT is a bit too guru-centric, FWBO (Triratna) has that weird history of abuse and misogyny. I like Plum Village, which is Thich Nhat Hanh’s personal tradition, and might settle down there one day.

    Enjoy your search!

    Alex
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    Hi @adamcrossley ! Great to meet you too ? I completely understand your dilemma re traditions, I’m currently trying a few different hats on. I did a Triratna Intro to Buddhism one day course in Manchester, which was superb, great people. I then tried my local Sangha and it wasn’t quite right for me - I certainly have no concerns re the rather dubious history at a local level, but I’d be nervous about progressing beyond local, given some of the issues and ethos within their tradition. NKT has some issues around being considered a cult, due to their demonstrations against the Dalai Lama and some apparent championing of a questionable deity within their tradition.

    So....I’m currently doing Samatha meditation (Theravada tradition) which fits ok at the moment and I’m going to a Zen group tonight, see how that goes !

    personadamcrossley
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Alex said:

    • I have read online that there are those who seem to indicate that one may not credibly call themselves a Buddhist if they have not been through a formal refuge ceremony in a Sangha / temple.

    That's not true. Actual refuge is a mental act. So much so that you can go do the actual ceremony and still have not taken refuge. =)

    AlexlobsterKundo
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    @seeker242 I wholeheartedly agree with you, I was disturbed by those who don’t share our view. In the UK, many of the Buddhist organisations state that to be viewed as a Buddhist, one must undertake a ceremony, which to me, says it’s their organisation that’s really seeking validation, rather than the lay Buddhist themselves ??

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Well said Alex.
    Validation, confirmation, attention are very real human needs. However the Buddhist refuge and path is not always about stoking or stroking fragile egos or insecure club members ...

    You seem to be making all the right moves. Trying things out. <3

    federicaAlex
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited March 19

    Take advantage of any good fortune you have, by coming across a few different Buddhist communities close by ;)

    Alex
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @lobster said:
    Well said Alex.
    Validation, confirmation, attention are very real human needs. However the Buddhist refuge and path is not always about stoking or stroking fragile egos or insecure club members ...

    Quite....

    Alex
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    When it comes to saying "I Am a Buddhist" (aka labeling the self as such) and the 'actual practicing' of Buddha Dharma... ...Actions always speak louder than words...(especially the ;right' actions ) :)

    AlexDhammikalobsterKundo
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 20

    Right Action (Samma kammanta)
    Well said @Shoshin

    https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/

    As somone gurgling quietly in the noughty corner, muzzled dharma is not my forte. Long live The Therevada ...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    So much so that you can go do the actual ceremony and still have not taken refuge. =)

    Exactly so. An emotional and overwhelming Mind commitment!

    I take refuge in the Buddha.
    I take refuge in the Dharma.
    I take refuge in the Sangha.

    Chocolate is also good :3

    AlexBunks
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