The Refuge-Taking Ceremony Hosted at Nung Chan Monastery

On 4 November 2007, 1046 people participated in the Refuge-Taking ceremony at Nung Chan Monastery as part of their initiation into Buddhism. Also in attendance at this solemn occasion were their relatives and an audience of approximately four hundred people.

The ceremony was held with the purpose of spreading Buddhist faith and teachings by promoting the Dharma way of managing problems occurring in daily life and extending Buddhist compassion toward others.

The ceremony commenced at 7:50am with the viewing of a film introducing Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) and the DDM World Center for Buddhist Education. It was followed by a lesson on Buddhist etiquette given by Venerable Guo Xian, designed to familiarize the new followers with Buddhist manners and practices.

Shortly after the lesson, the Devotional Chanting Dharma Assembly directed by Venerable Guo Xing was held. A film illustrating Venerable Master Sheng Yen's illuminations on the taking of the Three Refuges – the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha – and the Five Precepts – no killing, no stealing, no indulging in sexual misconduct, no lying and no intoxication – was also screened.

Venerable Master made a special appearance to give a Dharma talk explaining the importance of cherishing human life. He emphasized that refuge-taking is an important step in learning to apply the Dharma to everyday life, thus signifying the true commencement of one's journey in life.

The Master also mentioned that DDM is consistently dedicated to interpreting the Dharma in order to facilitate its understanding and acceptance by the general public, and in doing so, hopefully eliminate the usual anxieties about learning the Dharma.

In this age and time, where constant conflict amongst different ethnic groups often result in great social instability, religion becomes a comforting 'shelter' for many.

Therefore, DDM's vision of building 'a pure land on earth' naturally begins from the purification of the mind. In particular, it is a central concept that disciples must wholeheartedly follow to fulfill their given responsibilities before one can attain Buddhahood.

The Abbot President of DDM, Venerable Guo Dong, conducted the transmission on behalf of Venerable Master Sheng Yen. According to Venerable Guo Dong, the purpose of taking the Three Refuges and following the Five Precepts is to purify the mind and facilitate the learning of Buddhism by eliminating unnecessary desires.

He therefore encourages all disciples to actively take part in group practices in order to cultivate Buddhist wisdom. After the transmission, all new refuge takers received a Buddhist pendant from the Abbot President.

It is DDM's objective to help as many people as possible to apply Dharma wisdom and compassion in dealing with the difficulties of life; allowing them to eventually attain peace and harmony – both in mind and body – by becoming a follower of Buddhism through Dharma teachings.

Representatives from associations such as the Fellowship of Teachers, Prajna Meditation, Volunteers Group, Young Buddhists Society and DDM Social Welfare and Charity Foundation were also present at the ceremony, providing invaluable opportunities for new followers to explore their individual interests and capabilities.

At the closing of the event, the Abbot President gave his warmest blessings to all followers and led a procession, slowly circling the Buddha Hall to pray for peace. He concluded the evening by expressing his sincerest belief that merely by attending and listening to the Master's Dharma talk, the seed of compassion which has already been planted in every individuals' mind will soon germinate.

(contributed by Chang Lv/edited by Jin Yang & DDM Australia Editing Team)

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