On Wednesday night, I participated in a ceremony, accompanied by my parents, members of the local sangha/meditation group, my husband, and a friend, to formally take my Buddhist Refuge, Bodhisattva, and Precept vows. During the ceremony, I was given the dharma name Tenzing Chödrön, which means “truth light holder of the teachings”. The ceremony was very moving for me and the vows settled on me like the kata shawl that was placed on my shoulders at the end of the ceremony. I will do my best to keep them.
Ceremony for Renewal of Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows and Taking of Precept Vows; July 21st, 7:00
T: Opening vocal mantra meditation and gratitudes:
Ringing of finger cymbals, “Om mani padme hum” repeated 27 times.
Gratitudes: I give thanks to the Dalai Lama, who first planted the seed of Dharma in me; and to Mary Rose O’Reilly and Thich Nhat Hanh for encouraging the seed of Dharma to grow; and to Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron for the Dharma of Shambhala; and to Patrul Rinpoche for revealing the connection between emptiness and compassion; and to Shantideva for illuminating the way of no-self and bodhichitta; and to Jetsun Milarepa, for revealing the importance of dedication and life-long practice; and to the Buddha for realizing
the Dharma. Finally, I am grateful for this human life and the opportunity it provides to practice the Dharma.
(T places offering of flowers near Buddha statue and Chenrezig image)
ROB/READER: Reading from Buddha’s “Sermon at Benares”:
The Buddha said: “The spokes of the wheel are the rules of pure conduct: justice is the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the tire; modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which the immovable axle of truth is fixed. He who recognizes the existence of suffering, its cause, its remedy, and its cessation has fathomed the four noble truths. He will walk in the right path.
“Right views will be the torch to light his way. Right aspirations will be his guide. Right speech will be his dwelling-place on the road. His gait will be straight, for it is right behavior. His refreshments will be the right way of earning his livelihood. Right efforts will be his steps: right thoughts his breath; and right contemplation will give him the peace that follows in his footprints.
“Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering:
“Birth is attended with pain, decay is painful, disease is painful, death is painful. Union. with the unpleasant is painful, painful is separation from the pleasant, and any craving that is unsatisfied, that too is painful. In brief, bodily conditions which spring from attachment are painful.
“This, then, O bhikkus, is the noble truth concerning suffering.
“Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of suffering:
“Verily, it is that craving which causes the renewal of existence, accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now here, now there, the craving for the gratification of the passions, the craving for a future life, and the craving for happiness in this life.
“This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of suffering-
“Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction of suffering:
“Verily, it is the destruction, in which no passion remains, of this very thirst; it is the laying aside of, the being free from, the dwelling no longer upon this thirst.
“This then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction of suffering-
‘Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the way which leads to the destruction of sorrow. Verily! it is this noble eightfold path: that is to say:
“Right views; right aspirations; right speech; right behavior; right livelihood, right effort; right thoughts; and right contemplation.”
MOM/READER: Reading from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva:
Harmful beings are everywhere like space itself.
Impossible it is that all should be suppressed.
But let this angry mind alone be overthrown,
And it’s as though all foes had been subdued.
To cover all the earth with sheets of leather—
Where could such amounts of skin be found?
But with the leather soles of just my shoes
It is as though I cover all the earth!
MOM/READER: Reading from the “Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa”:
…one’s own body suffices as a good temple,
For the vital points within are Heavenly Paradise.
One’s own mind suffices as the Guru,
For all true understanding comes from it.
The outer phenomena suffices as one’s Sutra,
For they are all symbols of the Liberation Path.
T: Renewal of Refuge Vows (repeated 3 times):
I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life.
I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and love.
I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.
T: Reading from Shantideva’s “The Way of the Bodhisattva”:
Through these actions now performed
And all the virtues I have gained,
May all the pain of every living being
Be wholly scattered and destroyed!
For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.
Raining down a flood of food and drink,
May I dispel the ills of thirst and famine.
And in the aeons marked by scarcity and want,
May I myself appear as drink and sustenance.
For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever-plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.
My body, thus, and all my goods besides,
And all my merits gained and to be gained,
I give them all and do not count the cost,
To bring about the benefit of beings.
T: Renewal of Bodhisattva vows:
I vow to stay in this eternal cycle of samsara until all beings have achieved
release from this cycle. (x3)
Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas
Generated the mind of enlightenment
And accomplished all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training,
So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
Generate the mind of enlightenment
And accomplish all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training.
Now my life has become fruitful. I am fortunate to have attained a precious human existence. Today I am born into the family of buddhas. I am a bodhisattva. From now on, whatever happens, I will only perform actions that are in accordance with the supreme qualities. I will act such that I will never stain the perfect and supreme qualities of the buddhas.
BOB/READER: Another reading from the “Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa”:
Again the Jetsun [Milarepa] gave Gambopa the Initiation of Expression-Samadhi and said, “I have an unusually profound pith-instruction, but it is too precious to give away. Now you may go!” Milarepa then sent Gambopa on his journey, himself remaining where he was. When Gambopa had crossed the river and reached a distance from whence he could barely hear the Jetsun’s voice, Milarepa called him back, saying, “Who else but you would deserve to receive this most precious pith-instruction, even though it is of too great a value to be given away? Now come here, and I will impart it to you.” In great joy Gambopa asked, “Should I now offer you a Mandala?” “No, it is not necessary to offer me one. I only hope that you will cherish this teaching and never waste it. Now look!” Saying this, Milarepa pulled up his robe, exposing his naked body covered with lumps of callus. “There is no profounder teaching than this. See what hardships I have undergone. The most profound teaching in Buddhism is to practice…”
T: Precept vows:
In order to live my life in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path, I take up the following vows:
I take up the way of speaking truthfully.
I take up the way of speaking of others with openness and possibility.
I take up the way of meeting others on equal ground.
I take up the way of cultivating a clear mind.
I take up the way of taking only what is freely given and giving freely of all that I can.
I take up the way of engaging in sexual intimacy respectfully and with an open heart.
I take up the way of letting go of anger.
I take up the way of supporting life.
SHARON/READER: Reading from the Dhammapada:
The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And the habit into character.
So, watch the thought and its way with care
And let it spring up from love
Born out of concern for all Beings.
As the shadow follows the body,
As we think, so we become.
BUDDY/LARISSA: Receipt of Dharma name and shawl
BUDDY/LARISSA: Dedication of merit:
May the merit and virtue accrued from this work,
Adorn the Buddhas’ Pure Lands,
Repaying the four kinds of kindness above
And aiding the those suffering in the paths below.
May those who see and hear of this,
All bring forth the resolve for Bodhi,
And when this retribution body is over,
Be born together in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
May every living being, our minds as one and radiant with light,
share the fruits of peace, with heart of goodness, luminous and bright.
If people hear and see, how hands and hearts can find in giving unity,
may their minds awake, to Great Compassion, wisdom and to joy.
May kindness find reward; may all who sorrow leave their grief and pain;
may this boundless light break the darkness of their endless night.
Because our hearts are one, this world of pain turns into Paradise;
may all become compassionate and wise; may all become compassionate and wise.