Many people who begin to travel the Buddhist path will at some point decide to confirm their commitment to the Buddhist way. The Buddha called the decision to follow his teachings “Going for Refuge.” We all go for refuge, but often we seek comfort in things that will ultimately prove unsatisfactory. Going for Refuge in the Buddhist sense means we have committed to relinquishing those attachments that are actually causing us more difficulty in favor of a higher refuge.
Most Buddhist traditions have some ceremony or service that formalizes this act of going for refuge, and a Sensei credentialed by the Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism can perform this service.
The purpose of the Bright Dawn Ti Sarana ceremony is to function as a personal expression of an individual’s wish to confirm and deepen his or her commitment to the Buddhist path. Our confirmation ceremony does not necessarily imply that one becomes a follower of a particular approach or tradition. Our confirmation is less an institutional standard and more a tool for individual spirituality.
We conceive of our Ti Sarana ceremony as a broad gate for anyone who wishes to confirm his or her religious identity. It should be mentioned that a confirmation ceremony is not necessary for a person to be considered a Buddhist. Institutional validation is not mandatory. Being confirmed is not required in order to receive Buddhist services such as weddings or funerals.
People who are Buddhist because they were born into a Buddhist family rarely feel a need for a ceremony to confirm their identity as Buddhists. Perhaps because of the concept of baptism, persons coming to Buddhism from other traditions often feel the need for a confirmation ceremony. A confirmation ceremony is to be encouraged for all Buddhists, regardless of their backgrounds. Such a ceremony is an invaluable way to deepen one’s individual spirituality.
When you go for refuge under the auspices of the Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism, you will be given a dharma name—a Buddhist name that signifies your “new life” on this path. To help us select a name for you, please write a short spiritual biography. It doesn’t need to be long, but give us a little information about your spiritual journey—your religious background, what brought you to Buddhism, and what books and people have influenced you.
During the ceremony these strands will be attached with a gold notarial seal to your Ti Sarana Certificate, which will include the Dharma Name chosen for you by your Sensei and past on to Bright Dawn.
Please provide this material to your Sensei at least two weeks prior to the service along with any gratitude offering you wish your Sensei to forward to Bright Dawn.
A copy of the ceremony follows. You will be given a chance to practice the chanting prior to the ceremony. You will have copies of the ceremony during the service; you are not required to memorize anything.
During the ceremony, you will be asked to take several vows. Copies of those vows are also included here. You won’t have to say any of the vows during the service except the 5 Precepts and the Bodhisattva vow, which you will say with your Sensei.
If you want to mail or email your bio, etc., send it to:
Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship, PO Box 58803, Salt Lake City, UT 84158 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ti Sarana Ceremony
Homage to the Buddha—ALL
[Namo tassa] bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa.
Three Treasurers Reading
Sensei: “I go to the Buddha for guidance.”
ALL: “I shall become one with the Buddha. I resolve that I shall each day follow the Way of Life he laid down for us to walk and awaken to his supreme wisdom.”
Sensei: “I go to the Dharma for guidance.”
ALL: “I shall become one with the Dharma. The gates of Dharma are manifold; I vow
to enter them all. The goal of wisdom is ever beyond; I shall attain it.”
Sensei: “I go to the Sangha for guidance.”
ALL: “I shall become one with the Sangha. In the spirit of universal fellowship and as a member of the Sangha, I pledge myself to strive for the enlightenment of all beings.”
Ti Sarana Ceremony
Sensei: Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa. (3 times)
Sensei: Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Dutiyampi buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Dutiyampi dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Dutiyampi saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Tatiyampi buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Tatiyampi dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Tatiyampi saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (Repeat)
Dharma Talk and Giving of the Dharma Name
AFFIRMATION OF VOWS
Sensei: _______ do you undertake the training precept not to kill or harm other beings?
Answer: I vow to respect all life as sacred. I vow to protect all life and prevent unnecessary destruction of life. I vow to not physically or verbally attack another person, animal or living thing.
Sensei: Do you undertake the training precept not to take what isn’t freely given?
Answer: I vow to respect that which belongs to others, and to take nothing that is not freely given. All that is given to me I vow to honor and reciprocate.
Sensei: Do you undertake the training precept not to abuse or exploit others?
Answer: I vow to respect my body, and the bodies of others. I vow to be conscious of my actions toward self and others. I vow to become aware of the suffering that may be caused when others are involved in satisfying my wishes. I vow to treat all children with love, patience, and gentleness.
Leader: Do you undertake the training precept to use speech carefully?
Answer: I vow to be truthful and to speak out about injustice. I vow to respect that which another speaks to me and to honor what is shared in confidence. I vow to be sincere and to keep commitments.
Leader: Do you undertake the training precept not to cloud your mind?
Answer: I vow to honor the opportunity of being born and to develop the consciousness of my being. In keeping with this vow, I vow to live with mindfulness and to abstain from that which numbs me to the suffering of myself and others. I vow to cultivate a life of serenity and through my actions be an example for others to discover their own life of liberation and tranquility.
Sensei: And will you strive to increase your understanding of the teachings of the Buddha, to take refuge in the Three Treasures, to remember the Bodhisattva Vows, to understand the Four Noble Truths, to follow the Eightfold Path, to cultivate the Six Paramitas, and to live by the Five Daily Life Guidelines?
Answer: I will.
Sensei: Let’s say the Bodhisattva Vow together:
The Bodhisavattva Vow
The deluding passions are inexhaustible. I vow to transcend them.
Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to help them.
Dharma Gates are boundless. I vow to open them.
The Way of the Buddha is unattainable. I vow to live it.
Leader: “We surround all people and all forms of life with love and compassion. Particularly do we send forth loving thoughts to those in suffering and sorrow, to all those in doubt and ignorance, and to all who are striving to attain truth.”
All: “May the Infinite Light of Wisdom and Compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled; so shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.”
Leader: “To all Enlightened Ones…”
All:”…who are present in their teachings, we pledge our loyalty and devotion. We dedicate our lives to the way of life they have laid down for us to walk. We resolve to follow their example and labor earnestly for the enlightenment and welfare of all people.”