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Location: Shambhala Online

Being Buddhist: Exploring the Refuge Vow

Saturdays, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US)

April 6 / 13 / 20, 2024

In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion
and associate oneself with wakefulness…
When we take refuge, we commit ourselves to the Buddhist path.
– Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Course Overview

This three session course explores the moment in a person’s life when they decide to “be Buddhist”— formally, through the practice of taking a vow. If you are considering taking the Refuge Vow, this course will help you understand what you would be committing to, and the benefits of doing so. It is open to all who are interested in the Refuge Vow, or anyone who would like to reconnect with their original inspiration for taking this vow.

The Refuge Vow has been part of the Buddhist path for centuries. Taking a vow in a formal ceremony is a way to set our intention and to plant a deep seed of aspiration for the unfolding of our spiritual path. The Refuge Vow marks the decision to commit oneself wholeheartedly to the Buddhist path and to further one’s practice and training. It is the formal commitment to being a Buddhist, following the example of the Buddha Shakyamuni, his teachings (the dharma), and joining the community (sangha) of fellow practitioners.

Session Breakdown

Session 1—What is the Refuge Vow? 

Session 2—A personal exploration of why one would consider taking the Refuge Vow—or has already taken it 

Session 3—A deeper exploration of the “three jewels” (Buddha, dharma, sangha)—a key aspect of the Refuge Vow

This online course will support you in learning about and considering the Refuge Vow, and we can suggest in-person opportunities for taking the vow should you wish. After taking the Refuge Vow and a period of further practice, the Bodhisattva Vow can be explored as a further expression of commitment to the Buddhist path.

Taking the Refuge Vow is a powerful moment on a Buddhist practitioner’s path. Join us and discover whether this is the right moment for you—or use this as a powerful opportunity to connect with your original inspiration for this moment on your personal spiritual path.

About the Teacher

Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, has led group meditation retreats since 1976. He taught at Stanford, the University of Washington, and Naropa University, where he was a Core Faculty Member for fifteen years.

Gaylon is the author of three books, Natural Wakefulness (on the four foundations of mindfulness), Natural Bravery (on fear and fearlessness as path to manifesting bravery) and Welcoming Beginner’s Mind: Zen and Tibetan Wisdom on Experiencing Our True Nature (2024 from Shambhala Publications). His articles have appeared in Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma magazine. He contributed the foreword to the pioneering collection Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom (Shambhala, 2020).

2024-07-15 10:29:23