总赞 诸一切种诸冥灭 大悲三智十力身
别赞悲智 法界虚空一切种 如其所有尽所有
皈愿 我今皈依永皈依 皈依佛道誓愿成
总赞 佛说三藏十二部 教证名言诸轨持
别赞教 流转还灭体相用 名诠旨趣等随行
别赞证 诸乘道地一切证 能依所依因果等
皈愿 我今皈依永皈依 皈依法门愿修证
总境 三贤十地四果向 剃发染衣具戒者
别境 龙树无著执金刚 法王第二宗喀巴
赞德 具戒定慧解脱等 度生大愿流无尽
皈愿 我今皈依永皈依 愿断烦恼度有情
总释 如来正法贤圣僧 明净坚严希无上
法喻 佛如良医法妙药 将护病者说名僧
自性 佛谓自觉法者正 自性离染清静僧
同体 佛即是法法即僧 名义有三性不异
别相 于一佛宝中 有诸身等别
大乘佛宝 自觉觉他觉行满 具足三身五智身
大乘法宝 无畏无流证教法 实相中道二空理
大乘僧宝 不畏生死不入流 恒求自苦他安乐
小乘三宝 丈六紫金三十二 阿含四谛因缘法
密乘三宝 大日如来金刚尊 密乘四部生圆教
常住三宝 金坭画像及舍利 三藏名言教证体
反显 众人苦所逼 多皈依诸山
正明 诸有皈依佛 及皈依法僧
结成 此皈依最胜 此皈依最尊
离八种苦 地狱鬼畜生 长寿北俱卢
得十圆满 众同处所依正圆 现生不作五无间
念死 有情决定死 死来无定期
念无常 是日已过 命亦随减
生 苦 生为苦之因 众苦所依聚
老 苦 老苦复可怜 盛色日衰减
病 苦 四大不均平 逼恼身心苦
死 苦 死苦痛舍难 一切携不去
怨憎会苦 若仇怨相逢 怖报怨治罚
爱别离苦 由世境所迫 亲爱眷属离
求不得苦 农种不获实 商贾而失利
五取蕴苦 贪著于五蕴 流转苦增盛
观六道苦 诸天战争时 断支殒命等
难得难遇 人生实难得 佛法尤难遇
身命无常 此身如聚沫 无常刹那尽
无别人法 诸山林园苑 孤树灵庙等
唯依三宝 唯五智三身 十力四无畏
受得方法 决定信乐皈三宝 无谄诳骄从师受
应止 不皈天神外道等 不恼不害于有情
应持 皈敬如来是我师 皈敬正法证教体
念德供养 常念三宝胜功德 恩德无边应供养
度生求愿 于诸众生发宏愿 凡所兴求白三宝
皈礼护戒 晨夕三七作皈礼 守护皈戒如爱命
精进心 决定信乐皈三宝 常恒勤修无止息
念心 常念三宝恩 殊胜诸功德
慧心 慧心谓择法 知功过得失
定心 由慧力皈依 心定如山王
施心 施他量可量 受报有后现
护心 护三宝护戒 护内心善法
愿心 立志光远 不怯不弱
回向心 以此胜功德 回向于自他
现前利乐 现前大威势 度自他八苦
后时利益 常逢善知识 有暇闻正法
究竟利益 能如法修为 由戒生定慧
趣入解脱之门—皈依Entering the Door of Liberation—Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels
敏公上师开示 By venerable Guru Min
一、进入三宝之门—皈依三宝 Entering the door of three jewels---go for refuge
Enter the door of three jewels, first of all, we must go for refuge to the three jewels. Before taking refuge, all of us have followed our afflictions and accumulated evil karma. Because we accumulated the evil karma, we transmigrated and suffered in the six realms. Time after time, we don’t know how much misery we have suffered from the beginningless. If we don’t want to suffer any more, what should we do? Then we must depend on the three jewels. Relying on the power of the three jewels, we can leave the miserable sea of transmigration. Then this is called going for refuge to the three jewels.
Taking refuge is a criterion for judging whether we are followers of Buddhism or not: followers of Buddhism must have taken refuge. Those who haven’t taken refuge are not followers of Buddhism, no matter they are Qigong practitioners or other religion followers although they may have strong faith in their hierarchs and their teachings. Their hierarchs lack the perfect good qualities of Buddha, and they are still in endless transmigration, how can they teach others how to get away from the transmigration? Their teachings cannot purify our afflictions, free us from the birth and death sea or give us the happiness. Even their followers practice diligently, they still cannot avoid suffering. The objects to which they go for refuge are not three jewels, and thus they are not followers of Buddhism.
Followers of Buddhism depend on three jewels and can be liberated from all suffering, not only the suffering of the three miserable realms, but also the suffering in men and gods or even in form and formless realm. Even if you can be reborn as a human being or a god, it is still impermanent. When your effects of good karma end, you will be reborn in worse realms or even in hell. Truly powerful three jewels must be able to completely clear away all suffering in transmigration of men and gods. On the contrary, other religions usually tend to believe that it is already perfect to get rebirth in heaven. So, there is no way for us to get rid of all the afflictions except going for refuge to the three jewels.
We must therefore be very careful and respectful to taking refuge. Bowing carelessly, giving some offer and getting a Buddhist name are not taking refuge. Only these actions can get no refuge! To get the essence of refuge (皈依的体, 请核实) is conditioned. Buddhism talks about the arising of condition, which means a form or a phenomenon appears due to certain cause and condition. Only when there is enough cause and condition can the form or phenomenon appear. If there is no enough cause and condition, even a little less than enough, the form or phenomenon can not appear.
We talk about taking refuge, and then what is the cause and condition of getting the essence of refuge to three jewels? According to Buddhism teaching, the cause of taking refuge is that we arouse the willingness of going for refuge. And we still need the condition of taking refuge, what is such condition? Firstly we must have masters who practice properly according to the teaching, and we need the venue (mandala) properly displayed. Moreover, as shown in the paper handed out to all of you, the ritual instruction for taking refuge, offering up a request to the three jewels respectfully, repenting our karmic obstruction and so on are also the conditions of taking refuge. If cause and condition is enough, then we can get the essence of refuge. The most unelectable is the cause of taking refuge. We must arouse great intention to take refuge. If we don’t have such intention, we cannot get the essence of refuge even if we have very good condition.
So every time I will explain to all those who come here to take refuge about the essence of taking refuge to help them to get real essence and benefit of refuge. You can take refuge in many places, but you cannot say you can get true refuge definitely because it mainly depends on whether you have aroused the intention to taking refuge or not.
二、生起皈依之因—两个要素 The causes of going for refuge—two causes
Then what is the intention to taking refuge? The basic cause is the suffering in the three miserable realms of transmigration in six realms, or the suffering of hell denizens, animals and ghosts, as what we have learned in Abhidharma Storehouse Treatise. We cannot witness the suffering of hell denizens and ghosts, but we can see the suffering of animals. Scalper serves the human being for its whole lifetime, being lashed by whip, and when it gets old, it will be killed for food. Living monkey’s skull is opened to fill in with hot water, sauce and chilli, and it becomes a famous dish. A plate of living shrimps are poured by boiled water and they ache to jump crazily. This is another dish. One more dish is called “the whole mule”, the mule’s four feet are clamped, then some part of the mule’s body will be poured by boiled water, and then this meat already burnt will be cut for the customers to enjoy, and the mule is still braying in the kitchen. Terrible! These kinds of sufferings are also stated in the Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and the Stages of Yoga Practice Treatise etc., so we need to arouse horror and fear self being fallen into the miserable realms.
The second step is to arouse horror towards the suffering of transmigration of birth and death.
The further step is to arouse compassion and bodhicitta on all the sentient beings who are still suffering in the transmigration, and take effort to free them all from such suffering.
These are the three intentions. The first is to fear the suffering in the three miserable realms, to intend to liberate from such suffering and to gain a man or heavenly life of leisure and opportunity. He is the inferior person belonging to low level.
The second is to see the suffering in all six realms including the men and gods and thus strive for one’s own liberation from the transmigration. He is the mediocre person belonging to middle level.
The third intention is to see all beings in six realms are suffering and thus strive to liberate oneself as well as all the mother-like sentient beings from transmigration and the three realms as. He takes bodhisattva vows and practice bodhisattva deeds. He is the superior person belonging to the highest level.
So the premise of taking refuge is seeing the suffering. Once you know that yourself and your mother-like sentient beings are suffering in the three miserable realms or the six realms of transmigration, you will feel terrified toward this. If you feel nothing because of your innocence, or you don’t fell terrified, then you have no feeling of asking for help, which means you have no intention of taking refuge.
What is taking refuge? Taking refuge is to ask for help, to depend on a powerful object and to ask for his help. This is the motivation to take refuge. If we fear nothing, then why should we rely on others? Of course, there is no need to do that. So, first of all, we should arouse feeling of terror towards the suffering of the three miserable realms, then further, arouse feeling of terror towards the six realms of transmigration, and furthermore, arouse feeling of terror on the suffering of all the mother-like sentient beings in the transmigration and thus arouse the compassion to save them. We ourselves fear suffering, and we can deduce that all the sentient beings fear suffering. So we should strive to liberate them from suffering. These three intentions differ in their level, but their feeling of terror is the same. The fear for the three miserable realms or the transmigration is the first cause of taking refuge.
Is it enough to merely arouse fear? Not enough. After we have aroused feeling of terror, we should go further to solve the terror. Who can we rely on to solve our suffering? The only way is to rely on the three jewels. No one else can free us from suffering except relying on the three jewels. So many religions or philosophy have appeared in history, but the only one who can liberate self from suffering is the venerable Buddha Sakyamuni, who lived two thousand and five hundred years ago. Buddha knows the universal truth thoroughly, so he can liberate himself from all suffering and eradicate the root of suffering. This is the Buddha jewel. Buddha kindly construes to us in detail his way of liberating himself from suffering. This is the teaching jewel. The community jewel has the defining characteristic of obtaining verification through correct practice according to Buddha’s instruction. Only by relying on these three jewels, can we be liberated. So if we want to eradicate our afflictions and suffering, if we want to liberate ourselves from the terror towards them, the only way is to go for refuge to three jewels---go for refuge to Buddha, go for refuge to teaching, go for refuge to the community. These three jewels are in fact integrated, and none of them can be neglected.
In all, the causes of our going for refuge are twofold: fear of the miserable realms and transmigration; and the second? To solve this fear, to whom should we go for refuge? Only to the three jewels, and rely on them. Only when we are convinced of these two caused, can we have the real intention of taking refuge.
How about the condition of taking refuge? It has been written in the instruction to the ritual of taking refuge, and we have talked before. Firstly, we respectfully offer up a request to the three jewels in the ten directions to witness. Secondly we repent on our great karmic obstruction of the present and past to get rid of them. Thirdly we chant the Karma words for taking refuge and finally we dedicate all the merit to all. If you follow the session devotedly and clearly, then you can get the refuge. Before that, the community will chant Heart Sutra and the verse of return and restraint, to dispel the obstruction in the ritual and therefore create a favorable condition for you to get refuge.
Once you take refuge and attain the essence of refuge, you enter the door of Buddhism and become a follower of Buddha. The bodhisattvas who have taken vows before Buddha to protect Buddhist will protect alongside you. However, if you don’t arouse the intention of taking refuge, even if you joined the grand ritual, you don’t actually get the essence of refuge. You take refuge exteriorly, but you don’t even enter the door of Buddhism, you are still outside. Of course, the protector bodhisattvas will not protect you, because they are only responsible for protecting true followers, who practice properly according to the Buddha’s teachings. They don’t have the responsibility to protect outsiders.
So we must examine our minds if we have truly aroused the intention to take refuge, whether you have taken refuge or you are going to take refuge. If you have taken, you must compare your intention with the Karma verse of taking refuge. If you haven’t aroused the intention, you can’t get the essence of refuge. Today you are going to take refuge, so I must clarify all these to you. The intention to taking refuge is very important and you must arouse it by yourself. As for other condition, we can help or do for you, but you must arouse the intention by yourself.
There are many kinds of religion in the world, including the Qigong. Is there any benefit to believe in them? To believe in them, you may eradicate some afflictions in life, such as poverty, sickness, or nonhuman hindrances. They can eradicate some afflictions to a certain degree, because they have accumulated some merit and practiced some meditation in their past lives, and thus have some power or supernatural abilities (the supernatural abilities gained by Qigong practitioners’ are the supernatural abilities of retribution from spiritual ghost, not by practicing meditation.) They can solve a little affliction, but they don't understand karma, nor know how to repent to eradicate bad karma and obstruction, and thus cannot exterminate the root of affliction. What they are doing is like cutting your meat to cure your sore. It seems that you have solved one problem, but the same problem appears again soon, or a new problem arises, because the power of karma still exists. Even their hierarchs cannot liberate themselves from the suffering of transmigration of birth and death, or even protect themselves from the three miserable realms. So if we rely on them, we cannot really solve the afflictions. Only by going for refuge to the three jewels can we be liberated from all the sufferings. From this point of view, it is our greatest fortune to take refuge to the three jewels.
三、皈依体之保护—基本学处 To protect the essence of refuge—basic precepts
After we have taken refuge to the three jewels, can we respect other hierarchs and priests of other religion? They also teach us to do good things. A guru of Tibet, Pabongka Rinpoche said: for the gods or hierarchs of outsiders, if we arouse intention of respect, put our hands together respectfully toward them, we will lose our essence of refuge, let alone take refuge to them or rely on them. So after we have taken refuge to the three jewels, we must be careful that we definitely cannot bow down to gods, shrine or church etc. or make wish to them, nor can we merely arouse intention of admiration. Otherwise, we will lose our essence of refuge and cannot be a Buddhist. The essence of refuge, is lost however hard to gain it. What a pity! So we must pay attention to this.
To these gods, lord and priests, what should our attitude be towards them? It should be similar to the relationship between friends; we can respect and help each other, but we cannot admire them. For example, if you go to the hospital and the doctor is a Christian, and you may wonder whether you can let him cure you. This is a small problem. You pay him for curing, and he writes prescription or gives you an injection according to medical science. This is like the relationship between friends. You can communicate with them with courtesy, and there is no problem. But you cannot intend to rely on the belief they believe in. It is the same to the Qigong doctor. If you believe in his Qigong and supernatural ability, and ask him to cure you through Qigong; or you believe in your Christian doctor and believe in his doctrine or god, and thus ask him to pray for you for your recovery, then your essence of refuge is destroyed. You must be aware of this.
Furthermore, we need to pay attention to several things after taking refuge. Firstly, we must observe the good qualities of the three jewels such as the good quality of the Buddha’s body, speech, mind and Buddha’s activities for relief of all beings, as well as the good qualities of the teaching and the community. There are too many good qualities to interpret now. Generally, once you have gone for refuge, you should rely on excellent teachers, listen to the sublime teachings, fix your attention properly on them and cultivate a practice that conforms to the teachings. Gradually, with the accumulation of the understanding towards the good qualities of the three jewels and contemplation on them, we will be convinced of the three jewels and arouse the true faith and intention of respect. These will be showed in our bodily actions and speech subsequently.
There are three kinds of taking refuge. The first is to take refuge to the three jewels to get one out of fear towards miserable realms. Such refuge is taken by the “inferior” persons. Because of fear towards all the transmigration of birth and death, one goes for refuge to the three jewels to liberate one self from the transmigration. Such refuge is taken by the “mediocre” persons. Because of the fear and compassion towards all sentient being in transmigration, one goes for refuge to the three jewels to liberate all sentient beings from transmigration to buddhahood. Such refuge is taken by the “superior” persons. Regardless of inferior, mediocre or superior persons, if they arouse fear and thus go to the three jewels as their sole refuge, they can all get the right refuge.
Moreover, in the view of cause and effect, there are two types of refuge. The first is refuge of cause, and the second is the refuge of effect. The latter is more important. To liberate self and others from the miserable realms or transmigration, one pray to the three jewels for liberation. Such refuge is called refuge of cause. To liberate self and others from the miserable realms or transmigration, one arouse intention to attain buddhahood as soon as possible. Such refuge is called refuge of effect. We should get the refuge of effect by means of refuge of cause. Refuge of effect enables us to attain the merit of the three jewels and to liberate all the poor sentient beings. Such intention is similar to bodhicitta. Taking refuge properly requires us to contemplate the cause of taking refuge, to contemplate the afflictions and sufferings of self and other in the transmigration, and to be fully aware of the capability of the three jewels to protect all sentient beings from the sufferings. The final aim of taking refuge is to enable self to arouse merit to exterminate the habit energies of afflictions and to liberate self and other from sufferings. We should appreciate the Buddha as the one to guide our practice, the teaching as the method to liberate (i.e., the path we need to practise), and the community as those with whom we should associate on our path. We should practice refuge with such solidified conviction.
Another problem unknown to many before requires our attention. For those who have practice Qigong, they must discard their old method thoroughly before taking refuge. You can not bring them to your present practice. Otherwise, you cannot get or arouse the essence of refuge, no matter how many bows you have made and how much offer you have made.
Some people haven’t practiced Qigong before. After taking refuge, under some condition, for example, when his business is not running well, or he hasn’t recovered from his illness, he will doubt the effect of three jewels. With such doubt, he will turn to the outsiders or even believe in other religions, practice Qigong or pray to outer religions. The effect of these activities is very severe. According to the Ten Cakras of Ksitigarbha, Mahayana Great Collection Sutra, if you have taken the refuge or the five percepts, then you doubt the three jewels or regard outsiders as your teacher, or you pray to the gods or ghosts for superstitious signs…such activities are called not cardinal sins, not heinous crimes, great nonvirtuous karma is aroused, which is similar to heinous crimes. So after taking refuge to the three jewels, we cannot believe in outer religions or Qigong. Similar to heinous crimes, means this sin is similar to, and the subsequent suffering is similar to that in the Avichi hell.
Some people believe in three jewels and hope to see immediate result after taking refuge. For example, he may be ill and wish that he can be recovered soon after taking refuge. In fact, if you take refuge in three jewels, you should understand the condition of karma and effect in the Teaching Jewel. Where does the illness come from? Most are because of the karma of killing in the past lives, hurting others, disrespecting three jewels, dispraising three jewels or being unfilial and so on. After taking refuge to three jewels, the bliss you get has eased your illness. By relying on the Teaching Jewel and understanding the virtuous and nonvirtuous karma, you can eliminate the sources of illness such as killing karma. Buddha and bodhisattva also teach us the way to confess and purify with compassion. By practicing the way of purification devotedly, we can view the effect.
The core of relying on three jewels is relying on the Teaching Jewels. First of all, we should understand the karma and effect. Karma and effect is an objective regulation. Once we master the karma and effect, we will know that the suffering comes from the nonvirtuous action which is aroused by affliction, while the happiness comes from merit accumulation by virtuous mind. No-outflow liberation result comes from the obtainment of separation result through practising no-outflow path. So now you have criteria to judge what thought and behavior should be adopted and what should be avoided. Adopt the virtuous and the uncontaminated, avoid the nonvirtuous. This is with reason and accords with science. This is not superstition. Believe in and pray to god or ghost for miracle cannot solve any problem.
四、具足皈依之缘—证受皈依 Sufficient condition to take refuge— to witness taking refuge
Just now we talk about the cause to take refuge in detail and the condition to take refuge in brief. The essence of refuge is generated by combination of cause and condition. Now we say more about the condition.
Just now we talked about condition. We have prepared for you. Firstly a proper venue (mandala), proper refuge master, qualified refuge master means bhiksu who observes precepts purely. It is better that he has been a bhiksu for many years or he masters vinaya or even tripitaka well. Please refer to the instruction of the ritual. Before taking refuge, we need to greet the three jewels in ten directions to this present mandala to witness your taking refuge. Because we take refuge not only to the three jewels in a certain place or a certain world, but to all the three jewels in the ten directions, who pervade the Dharma Realms to the ends of empty space. We should take refuge to them all. So when we take the refuge, we greet them to witness. You may wonder that how can our hall accommodate three jewels in ten directions? Don’t worry. Big or small is from the discrepant heart of ordinary people. If one mind of enlightenment is perfectly aroused, big or small obstructions will be removed; and a mustard seed can contain the whole Mountain Sumeru; or sitting one a fine dust but can turn the peerless wheel. The Absolute and phenomena are not mutually exclusive. This is an inconceivable state and we don’t need to doubt.
After greeting, we should confess sin before the three jewels in ten directions. From beginningless time, we have done a lot of sins and had many afflictions. Thus our body and mind are all dirty. The dirty outside body can be cleaned by water, while the dirty of sins and afflictions cannot be washed by water. There used to be outsiders in India, they believed once they bath in the Ganges River, the river water can clean all their sins. It is foolish and superstitious. To clear all the sins, we must confess the sins according to the teaching. What is confessing? We realize that the sins we have made are nonvirtuous and they will lead us to sufferings in the miserable realms. We must confess sins sincerely and discontinue committing them in the future. This is called confessing. It is possible to clear all our sins with such mind and the compassionate bless from Buddha and Bodhisattva. If we don’t have such mind and are unaware of the sins and the subsequent suffering, nor we discontinue committing, it is impossible to clear the sins and we will suffer in the future. So now we take the refuge, but our body and mind are dirty obstruction for us to get essence of refuge. Even we can get, it will turn bad. So before we take refuge, we must clear our body and mind. How to clear? Neither by using normal water nor using Ganges water. We use the confessing water. We confess our sins and recognize our sins and evil actions we have done, and promise not to commit them again. In front of Buddha, Bodhisattva and three jewels, we confess our sins for three times sincerely, and pray for three jewels’ blessing to clear all our sins in our body and mind and prepare us for the essence of the refuge. For example, even if you cook the best meal, but you put them in a dirty bowl which has been used to scoop excrement before, then no matter how delicious the meal is, it will definitely taste smelly. If the bowl has been used to scoop poison, if you don’t wash it and sterilize it, even if you fill this bowl with sweet dew, it will be noxious and deadly to you. So before taking refuge, you must confess sins.
Taking the refuge requires us to recite the Karma verse three times. The Karma verse is “I go for refuge to the Buddha until the exhaustion of my life, I go for refuge to the Dharma (teaching) until the exhaustion of my life, I go for refuge to the Sangha (community) until the exhaustion of my life.” Recite for three times, this is called recite the Karma verse for three times. When doing this, when the refuge master says, you must listen to his words clearly. You cannot take refuge merely by writing a letter. You must be present, hear the words clearly and understand them. When you say the words by self, you must say through mouth clearly. Some people only move the lips a little without making sound or just mumble the words softly and unclearly. They cannot get the essence of refuge. You must say the words clearly and loudly for three times to get the essence of refuge. This is very important.
五、行持皈依学处——别学共学 Observe the precepts of refuge—special precepts and general precepts
After taking refuge, you must protect your essence of refuge. The essence is not easy to get yet very easy to lose. So you must pay attention to the following precepts: after taking the refuge to Buddha, do not go for refuge to the heavenly demons and externalists, even if it costs you your life. Once you bow or pray to the heavenly demons and externalists’ shrine, your essence is destroyed. This is severe. After taking refuge, you will reborn as man or heaven after death. But if your essence of refuge is destroyed and you believe in evil spirit, you will suffer in miserable realms after death and it can’t tell when you can be liberated from the misery. So after comparing them, you would rather die than take refuge to heavenly demons and externalists. Many people believe in heretic after taking refuge, and thus their essence of refuge is destroyed and they will suffer similar in the Avichi hell.
After taking refuge to sublime teachings, do not believe in non-Buddhist teachings or Qigong Practitioners’ instruction, nor can you practice them, even if it costs you your life.
After taking refuge to the community, do not believe in non-Buddhist’s or be cheated by them, even if it costs you your life.
After taking refuge, you definitely cannot say the words that you don’t believe in Buddha or you don’t believe in three jewels. No matter if you just mouth the words in jest or you are threatened by someone with a knife, you cannot say that, or your essence of refuge will be destroyed.
What should we do after taking refuge? There are two kinds of precepts. The first is called special precepts and the second is called the general precepts.
The special precepts include three points. First, taking refuge to the Buddha, never go to other gods for refuge; second, taking refuge to the teaching, abandon harm and malice toward living beings; third, taking refuge to the community, do not live with non-Buddhist.
We have talked about taking refuge to the three jewels before. Only the three jewels can save us from all the sufferings. Now you turn to other gods or non-Buddhist? This is disobedient to your vow of taking refuge, so your essence of refuge is destroyed.
Take refuge to the teaching. What is teaching? It is for the liberation of all sentient beings, and its essence is compassion. After we take the refuge, we should arouse our intention to liberate all sentient beings. Even if we don’t have the capability to liberate them, how can we hurt or even kill them? Of course we cannot do so.
Take refuge to the community, then we cannot live with non-Buddhist. Especially, don’t live with or be too close with those who do not believe in three jewels and dispraise three jewels. Someone may say if his parents are non-Buddhist, then what should he do? You cannot depart from your parents. Moreover, some may still depend on their parents economically. Then you distinguish your belief from theirs and don’t compromise in belief. However, you can persuade your parents to believe in three jewels. Then that is great fealty and great repay. Actually, it is dangerous to live with non-Buddhist.
I heard that in Wenzhou, there were several girls who were Buddhist. They used to go to temple to listen to teachings or chant sutras. After they grow up, one of them married to someone whose family believes in Catholicism. She firstly thought that everyone has the freedom of religion, and they can live together peacefully with different religions. However, the Catholicism is very strict and requires all the family members to believe in Catholicism. It is impossible to be a Buddhist or even without any religion. You must believe in Catholicism. Then the family tried to persuade her to believe in Catholicism. She was a Buddhist and knew that she could not take refuge to heavenly demons and externalists. So she said she could not believe in Catholicism or other religions. Then the family took measure. What did they do? The father-in-law and mother-in-law slept on bed without eating or getting up. They did not move for three days. Then their relatives and friends all came and said that the daughter-in-law was disobedient. Then she had no choice and was forced to believe in Catholicism. This is the result of living with non-Buddhist. Don’t look down on this.
One problem arises. Then do you lose your essence of refuge after whipping an ox or a horse? Or when you attend meetings with disciples of all five main religions, when you attend the meeting or live in the same hotel, you are actually living with them, and then do you lose the essence of refuge? Indian and Tibet Buddhism have many explanations for these problems. There are six or nine precepts, if you contravene, then you forsake your refuge. No matter six or nine, they all include the three.
Venerable guru Tsong-kha-pa explained that you definitely cannot contravene two precepts. If you contravene others, you only contravene the refuge learning, and it is not the causes of forsaking refuge. You do not forsake your refuge immediately. Then what are the two precepts you cannot contravene?
First, if you forsake the three jewels, then no matter in what situation, in jest or if it costs you your life, you cannot say forsake the three jewels. If you say so, you forsake the refuge.
Second, if you don’t say that you forsake the refuge, but you think that the non-Buddhism teachers or teachings are as superior as Buddha and teachings, then you forsake the refuge. Because when you take the refuge, you are fully convinced that three jewels are superior and unsurpassed.
The special precepts teach us what to do to the three jewels respectively. For example, what are proscriptive if you take refuge to Buddha, what are proscriptive if you take refuge to the teachings, and what are proscriptive if you take refuge to the community? The general precepts take the three jewels as a whole, and teach us what to do before the three jewels. There are six general precepts:
First, recall the good qualities of the three jewels. The details are in the Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. The good qualities of Buddha include the good qualities of the Buddha’s body, the good qualities of the Buddha’s speech, the good qualities of the Buddha’s mind and the good qualities of the Buddha’s enlightened activities. We should recall the good qualities of the teaching and the community as well, again and again, to arouse our strong and pure mind.
Second, by recalling the great kindness of the three jewels, strive to worship and offer them constantly. We take the refuge and will get the great blessing from the three jewels. Our human body is also gained by our taking refuge to the three jewels, vowing for superior life and following the ethical discipline in the past lives. Our human body of leisure and opportunity is gained by such a way and now prepares us to study Buddha’s teachings. We cannot forget but should repay the great kindness of the three jewels.
All your provision, you should offer respectfully with the resource and mind. All your provision, no matter it is your food, your articles for use, your clothes and alike, you should put the provision in front of the statue of Buddha, and offer with your sincere mind respectfully and gratefully. If you don’t have the Buddha hall at home, you can vision in your mind. If you just take refuge, after taking refuge, you place the food and the cutlery, put your hand together, and then chant the mantra ‘Om Ah Hung’ respectfully for three times. Similarly, you put the new clothes on the table in front of the statue of Buddha before your wearing, or you hold them on hand, and then chant the mantra ‘Om Ah Hung’ for three times. Your article for use, no matter it is a thermos or furniture and alike, before using, you offer it to the three jewels, chanting the mantra ‘Om Ah Hung’ for three times.
This is the simplest way to offer, but the effect is great. The power of ‘Hung’ can clear all the dirty from the offer and make the offer most clean. The merit of ‘Ah’ can change the un-superior offer to the most superior offer with best form, smell, taste and feeling. Then the merit of ‘Om’ can make the limited offer to the unlimited cloud of oceans of Noble Excellent Merit, which is as much as the emptiness.
Third, cultivate your compassion. To liberate all sentient beings from suffering to happiness, use your available means to caringly establish other living beings in the practice of going for refuge.
Fourth, whatever activity you engage in, and whatever your purpose, firstly you need make offerings and supplications to the three jewels. Whatever activity you engage in, and what ever your purpose, rely on and make offering to the three jewels, usually to your dependence master for their instruction. All in all, do according to the teaching of the three jewels. Do not forsake the three jewels’ instruction and follow other worldly or other religion ways. Except for the routine work, you don’t need to say the normal work to your master, such as “I go to work” or “I eat”.
Fifth, after you have understood the benefits, go for refuge three times in the day and three times at night. Taking refuge can reduce and eliminate previously accumulated karmic obstructions. The Compendium of Training says: “Those who go for refuge to the Buddha do not go to the miserable realms. After giving up human form, they assume the bodies of god.” The same teaching applies to taking refuge in the teaching and the community. You will accumulate vast merit. You will not be thwarted by human or nonhuman hindrances. Before undertaking an activity according to the teaching, you make offerings to the three jewels, go for refuge and then pray to succeed. You will easily accomplish it and further become Buddhahood in the end. So you should go for refuge three times in the day and three times at night. If you don’t have regular practices at dawn and at dusk, then you recite the three refuge and the four vast vows, three times at dawn and three times at dusk. This is the simplest practices.
Sixth, maintain your refuge and do not forsake the three jewels, even in jest or if it costs you your life. We have said that before. We must protect the refuge and treasure it more than our life. You should recall the refuge to three jewels from day to night. You cannot forget or even forsake the refuge. To a Buddhist, three jewels are most important. None of your belongings can be brought with you when you die. Nor one of your relatives and your friends, or even your own body. Only the merit of three jewels can be with you. No matter where you are, it will not depart from you. This is our benefit and it worth our careful treatment.
Buddha is the one who teaches refuge, the community assists you in accomplishing refuge, but the real refuge is the jewel of the teaching, because once you have relied on it, you are liberated from fear. So the beginning practitioners should master the classifications of virtue and nonvirtue, as well as their results. Then you properly cast aside the nonvirtuous and adopt the virtuous, practice correctly and understand the karma and effect. The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment says: “attaining certain knowledge of the definiteness, or nondeceptiveness, of karma and its effects is called the correct viewpoint for all Buddhists and is praised as the foundation of all virtues.” After taking refuge, the next step is to know the karma and effect of virtue and nonvirtue. I hope you can take effort in this.