April 18, 2021

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As more and more practitioners understand Why Take Refuge in the Three Jewels, we have yet another such auspicious ceremony online on April 18th, 2021, with a group of nineteen (19) fellow Chan practitioners from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ireland, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States.

Here are some of their heartwarming sharing and words, to “share the precious forward” for practitioners come after:

Anna from Canada:
Years ago, I attended a seven-day retreat led by Venerable Guo Yuan in Taipei, and found it a life-changing experience. I learned how important relaxation and treating self and others with care are for developing a solid personal foundation and contributing positively to the world. A huge revelation for someone who had been very focused on productivity and accomplishing things! I also gained many insights about putting Buddhist teachings into practice that I hadn't learned from books.

At the end of the retreat, Venerable Guo Yuan offered participants the opportunity to take refuge, but he also said that we shouldn't make any important decisions (like sell our house...) right after the retreat. Since I don't come from a Buddhist background, I decided not to participate in the refuge ceremony right away and first spend time applying insights gained from the retreat to my daily life.

Auspiciously, COVID has made it possible for me to reconnect with DDM, and participate in an online refuge ceremony led by Venerable Guo Yuan from my home city. I'm grateful that this was possible, and for the many opportunities to attend practice sessions with communities based in San Francisco, Vancouver and New York over the last months. Thank you to Venerable Guo Yuan and my fellow practitioners.

Jeanne from Canada:
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Dharma Drum Mountain for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Refuge Ceremony on Sunday April 18th. It is a day that will remain in my heart for all the days of my life. I so looked forward to the ceremony as the day was approaching but I did not expect to be so overwhelmed with the great sense of peace, joy and fulfillment that I now feel. The Three Jewels and the Five Precepts will keep me on the right path for all the days remaining to me. Thank You Venerable Guo Yuan, Warren, and Lawrence as well as everyone else who participated, for giving this gift to me. I am very privileged to call myself a Dharma Sister.

Enrique from Colombia:
For many years I followed Master Sheng Yen seeking to learn and practice with the Dharma Drum sangha. Now thanks to technology I was able to take Buddhist refuge with them. I am happy and I hope to learn a lot.

Pavel from Russia:
I have been interested in Buddhism since my early childhood when I lived in China with my parents. But completely began to practice meditation and studying Dharma together with my wife about 4 years ago at Thien Vien Chon Khong monastery in Vietnam.

We studied a lot and very diligently, but due to some language barriers, we could not go through the full ceremony of taking Refuge and Five Precepts. Just got our Buddhist names as a sign of taking first steps on the Path. Furthermore, our teacher was not completely sure in sincerity of our intentions because it was the first time in their experience that foreigners wanted to become Buddhists. But at that moment we didn’t know about it.

After leaving Vietnam, while already living here in Moscow we continued our practise and did our best to apply got knowledge in our daily life. This year I began to feel that something is missed, that my practice got stuck. Then I was told that the missing part was a taking refuge ceremony. I didn’t believe it but after reading Master Sheng Yen’s article about the ceremony, I understood everything. The other problem was that there is no places in Moscow where we can take refuge.

And suddenly Ven. Jinho and my friend Dima informed me that we could do it online within a week. I was really happy and without any hesitation informed Ven. Jinho about my intention and asked for a guidance. And you know, I was waiting for it as for me the most important event in my life.

On that day, after reading the news in the morning I realised that it was not only a willing just to become a better person but also to make people around me happier, kinder and peaceful, and by my own example to show that we need not only to take care of yourselves but and everything arounds us either, because what is happening in the world in nowadays makes me really sad.

During and after the ceremony I was full of happy emotions, it was a feeling of growing warmth inside. I felt like we (all participants) became one. And not only with human beings but and with all spirits and gods whom we can’t see (thanks the teaching about Devas Paths given by Ven. Guo Yuan). And what was the most important and amazing for me - I felt real connection with the Buddha as I realised that this ceremony takes its roots from the Buddha himself!

Your idea to hold such ceremonies online is a huge step forward in spreading Buddhism and making it available for everyone. Thank you!

Sam from United States:
Thank you so much for helping to bring us the wonderful opportunity of the Taking Refuge ceremony with the Venerable Guo Yuan. It was even more wonderful to share this moment with Dharma brothers and sisters all across the globe.

I can find joy knowing that we are living in a time where the teachings of the Buddha have reached all corners of the globe. Taking refuge in the three jewels is something I thought heavily about doing before Covid hit so hard and shut everything down. I never expected that I would be able to actually do it until things would come back to normal and we would be allowed back inside of CMC [Chan Meditation Center, New York] or upstate to the retreat center.

In the beginning when the Chan Meditation Center closed, I went through a period of time where I found that I was unable to practice myself at home. Too many noises, too many distractions going on at all times, whether outside of my window or from my own family. With the guidance online of some monastics and teachers from DDM [Dharma Drum Mountain] I was eventually able to practice online with others and on my own with diligence. I got past the distractions and realized they were actually only excuses that I kept attaching to and just decided to practice through it all.

It seems to me that officially taking the refuge was the next step in the right direction of being a Buddhist and practicing Chan. I will forever be grateful for the moment we all shared together. I am looking forward to joining everyone again next Sunday to practice together and learn the Dharma.
My sincere gratitude.

For more information or to apply for the next Taking Refuge Online, please visit here.


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