Program Details

Refuge Vows in Brunswick

with Eric Spiegel
June 21 / 7:00 PM - June 23 / 6:00 PM

Prerequisites: You must submit letter of recommendation from your Meditation Instructor. You must have taken the Refuge Vow at least one year prior in order to take the Bodhisattva Vow. You may NOT take both the Refuge and Bodhisattva Vow at the same time. Please note, it is traditional to offer a monetary teacher's gift to the Acharya as preceptor for the vows.

The Refuge Vow is the traditional step of formally becoming a Buddhist by taking "refuge" in the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. The Bodhisattva Vow is a further extension of one's personal commitment to be of ongoing benefit to others.

This weekend will look at the meaning of these commitments, and of the world view they represent. The teachings will be from the perspective of what it means to be a Buddhist -- as we enter the stream of dharma, how do we integrate the teachings of the Buddha into our life in a meaningful way?

Taking these vows enters you into the larger Buddhist community of any lineage, not limited to the Shambhala or Tibetan Buddhist community. We welcome anyone who feels inspired to participate.  

Prior Reading (strongly recommended) – both will be available at the preliminary classes on April 20 in Portland and May 18 in Brunswick.

The Refuge Vow Sourcebook

The Bodhisattva Vow Sourcebook

People considering taking either vow will need to meet with a Meditation Instructor as part of the application process.


Friday evening and Saturday will be open teachings as well as preparation for the actual Vow Ceremonies.  

Sunday morning will be a retreat only for those intending to take one of the Vows that afternoon.

For those who are planning to take the Bodhisattva Vow, please be aware that the long tradition of this vow ceremony is to offer a gift, representing your intention to let go of fixation and to offer yourself to others. Traditionally one offers something which has both some personal and intrinsic value and is difficult to part with. The gift could be monetary but this is not at all necessary.

Full participation in the weekend program is required for vow-takers.


Sunday Afternoon Schedule

3:00 pm  Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony (open only to those taking, or who have taken the Bodhisattva Vow) 

4:00 pm  Refuge Vow Ceremony (open to the public, including friends and family) 

5:00 pm  Reception- 

A reception will follow the Vow Ceremony. When you register, please put in the notes section how many people you plan to invite so we can plan for the reception.


If you aspire to take one of these vows, here is some information which might be useful in preparation.

First, Acharya Spiegel has given a talk for each vow, which will be helpful to listen to in preparation for the weekend, including the Q&A.  Please listen to this talk for the Refuge Vow: 


For more information about taking refuge, check out this article from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

Second, Acharya Spiegel has provided additional instructions.  He asks that you read and study the Refuge Vow Sourcebook(65pp softcover, ).

He further asks that you continue your practice in the remaining time leading up to the date you take the vow. This will really help the vow to have genuine meaning. We are taking these vows in order to set something firmly in our mind stream.  On one hand we are all doing the best we can; at the same time if we create the proper ground the seeds will have the best support to take root and be strong.

The morning session will include practice, interviews and teaching.  Following a lunch break, there will be vow orientation followed first by the bodhisattva vow (a ceremony open only to those who have taken this vow) and then the refuge vow (a ceremony open to all, including guests). The day will conclude with a reception.

Acharya Eric Spiegel grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side in a lefty family that he describes as "fundamentalist atheists." In 1971 he met and became a student of  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He has worked in the financial sector for decades and in 2002 he left Wall Street to devote more time to teaching. The following year, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche appointed him an Acharya, which means "senior teacher." He is the Acharya for the New York Shambhala Community and teaches and has students in NYC, around the US, and internationally. He has worked extensively with people facing death and with issues related to death and dying. He also works and teaches within the Shambhala tradition on developing a more awakened attitude toward wealth and money.


Generosity Policy: Our Generosity Policy helps make programming available to all those who wish to participate. Tuition fees reflect our costs to hold a program, but if the price is an obstacle, the Generosity Policy allows you to offer as much of the fee as you can based on your individual circumstances.

Patron Price: If you are able, please consider registering with the Patron price. By offering a little more, you help make programs accessible to others. Thank you!

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