Traditional Buddhists attend ceremonies of Going for Refuge and taking precepts quite often. Unfortunately like many things people do out of habit, these ceremonies can tend towards being hurried and not so well considered. New Buddhists can also occasionally feel deterred from participating in rituals that they do not fully understand. It is the case however, that understanding the Refuges and committing to the ethical training are vitally important cornerstones for our practice. For they give us the 'container' within which transformation and liberation become possible.
Having the Three Jewels as our Refuge rather than being an empty formality, is actually a truly wonderful, protective and nourishing affirmation of both our aspiration and our extraordinary potential. And the ethical precepts when understood and undertaken correctly, rather than being restrictive, are a true blessing in both ones own and others lives. Keeping the precepts allows the light of virtue to shine in your heart and in your life, and lays the foundation for ever deepening blissful meditation combined with greater clarity and insight.
On this occasion I have taken the opportunity to explain the Refuges and the Precepts in an in-depth manner, as both a ritual and an active contemplation. I encourage listeners to open their hearts with awe and gratitude towards the revolutionary Enlightenment and liberation of the Buddha, then to recognise this as being one's own ultimate potential. I then also encourage listeners to feel joy and deep appreciation in having met this precious liberating Path and training. Sometimes we have to consider what the path and practice of Dhamma really is in order to truly recognise the value of it. Recognising that millions of others have walked this Way before us and that many are still walking the Noble Path today is another encouraging contemplation.
This is a long talk. In fact the longest one I have ever given! Which should demonstrate how much I value and care for the subject of Refuge and committing to ethical training. Please take a quiet time, when you have the time, to consider these important matters. Otherwise you can listen to the first part of the talk about Refuge which takes exactly half of the time (the first 40 minutes.) Then come back and listen to the section regarding the precepts a little later on. (The second 40 minutes)
I sincerely hope that the reflections contained in this talk and ceremony may enrich your understanding of Refuge and Sila and nourish your beautiful practice of Buddhadhamma.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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