Greetings fellow practitioners,
Taking the Three Refuges of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as one's spiritual refuge is no small matter. In Asia the ceremony for doing this can often be done quite perfunctorily without much reflection. People are happy to do it without thinking about it much. Many westerners on the other hand don't want to do a ceremony that they might not fully understand. The Three Refuges are truly wonderful and extraordinary things however… and spending some time thinking about them can bring about much deeper understanding about the Path, as well as tremendous benefit. After some sincere consideration - then doing the ceremony with a heart of Faith informed by Wisdom can be an excellent way of giving rise to good energy and of deepening ones' commitment. The Three Jewels are in fact an affirmation of our own incredible potential and in whole-heartedly embracing them we come closer to realising this potential.
Taking the five Ethical Precepts is usually the second part of the Refuge ceremony. The Five Precepts are also frequently either miss-understood… or not completely understood. Once again however, enormous benefit can be gained from understanding why Lord Buddha established these as the 'unnegotiable standard' of the true follower. Rather than something limiting or oppressive, they are in fact a protection and an empowerment. Maintaining these Noble standards allows the Power of Virtue to grow and shine in your heart and mind. These precepts bring many gifts. In offering freedom from remorse, healthy self-esteem as well as the steady foundation upon which concentration and insight will grow to name but a few.
I have split the detailed talk that I gave about these important themes in Melbourne earlier this year into two talks for easier 'digestion'. One about the Refuges… and the other about the precepts or 'Training in higher Virtue.' This is the same talk that is offered as a YouTube link in the Video section. But even if you've listened to that already, please consider listening again as I believe that there is much of value here.
I sincerely hope that something contained in these talks might be helpful to you at this time.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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