Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

Buddhism: A Westerner’s Quest for Meaning

Floral LovelinessFor most of my life, I have been drawn to spirituality in the Christian faith tradition. In the search for deeper meaning, I acquired both undergraduate and graduate degrees relating to theology and spirituality (as well as education).

It was within my Christian heritage that I was first indirectly introduced to Buddhism through a well-respected and internationally-known Christian meditation teacher. Sometimes he would quote from the Dhammapada is his meditation talks.

This source piqued my interest, and from that small, insignificant beginning, my interest in Buddhism and Buddhist spirituality has grown over the past few years.

Now, on this page, I am seeking to answer questions that have crossed my path and have at times puzzled me. May the questions and answers prove instructive and enlightening for all who may be drawn to explore Buddhism for one reason or another.

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What Does it Mean to Go for Refuge?

Recently, a person wrote: “Hello, I hope it’s ok to share on this website – I formally took Refuge in the 3 Jewels and the 5 precepts in a ceremony, just over a week ago . . . Thanks for reading. Metta, B. G. (Peublo, AZ).”

I responded by writing . . .

Thank you so much for sharing with us what has to be a most auspicious event in your life!

A dedicated practitioner once wrote: “The Triple Gem is a light that shines in darkness, a ship that crosses the ocean of suffering, the sweet rain that douses the blazing house, and the guiding star that points the way for those who are lost. That is why we take refuge in the Triple Gem.” (Chuang, Venerable Tzu. Faxiang: A Buddhist Practitioner’s Encyclopedia.)

In reading your news, perhaps I could share a website link with you entitled “Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts” by Bhikkhu Bodhi. The link is http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel282.html

Bhikkhu Bodhi mainly writes for those who have newly embraced the Buddha’s teaching. The article (it is very long!) gives a clear and concise explanation of the two steps you have taken, going for Refuge and taking the Precepts.

However, the article would also be very helpful for those who want to know what becoming a Buddhist involves, as well as for long-term Buddhists wanting to understand the meaning of practices with which they are already familiar. (So Bhikkhu Bodhi effectively covers everybody!)

I’ll attach the article by Bhikkhu Bodhi for you so that you can easily download it, if you wished.

With metta, now and always,

Alex

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