The Refuge Vows and the Bodhisattva vows

Today at our Dharma Study group we discussed individuals taking the Refuge and Bodhisattva vows. These are the vows:

The Refuge Vows
“The Three Gems”

The idea behind taking refuge is that when it starts to rain, we like to find a shelter. The Buddhist shelter from the rain of problems and pain of life is threefold: the Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma) and the spiritual community (the Sangha). Taking refuge means that we have some understanding about the nature of suffering, and we have confidence that the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (the “Three Jewels”) can assist us on our path.

I take refuge in:
1. The Buddha (the Great Teacher)
2. The Dharma (Buddhist teachings)
3. The Sangha (spiritual community)

The Bodhisattva Vows

The word “bodhisattva” is a compound word formed from bodhi (spiritual awakening, enlightenment) and sattva (a being, essence, spirit).
The word can then be translated as “A being set upon enlightenment,”
One version of the vows, from around or before 800 CE, has five vows instead of the four known today.

1. Beings are countless. I vow to liberate them.
2. Merit & wisdom are boundless. I vow to accumulate them.
3. The Dharma of the Buddha is boundless. I vow to master it.
4. Buddha’s (enlightened ones) are infinite in number. I vow to follow them.
5. I vow to realize full Buddhahood.

We will be establishing a date and time in the near future for a ceremony for those who wish to take either, or both, of the vows.

Rev. Ed Geraty