Special Topics

Q8: Does one have to take refuge in the Three Jewels in order to formally become a Buddhist?

Taking refuge is just like registering as an official student of Buddhism, which means that you are ready to formally become a Buddhist, rather than merely auditing a Buddhist program without obtaining a degree. Buddhist followers can then move through a standard sequence of receiving the precepts, starting with the Three Refuges and followed by receiving the Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, Ten Precepts, and, finally, full ordination (Upasampada, in Pali). Taking refuge in the Three Jewels forms both the foundation of all Buddhist precepts as well as the basis for attaining perfect enlightenment.

During the refuge-taking ceremony, a monk or nun known as the "master of refuge/ preceptor" will witness the process of how attendees formally become Buddhists. The person taking refuge will repeat the "verses for taking the Three Refuges" three times in front of the Buddha statue, bow to the Buddha, and take the Three Refuges and Five Precepts as the first step in learning Buddhism.

Extended reading: 

Q1: Does taking refuge in Buddhism automatically render me a monastic?

Q2: Why do we receive a Dharma name after the refuge-taking ceremony?

Q3: What do we take the Three Refuges?

Q4: Who can take refuge in the Three Jewels?

Q5: Will those who have not formally taken refuge in the Three Jewels have any merits when chanting Buddhist scriptures or the Buddha's name?

Q6: After taking refuge in Buddhism, is it necessary to set up a Buddhist hall or a Buddha statue at home?

Q7: How does taking refuge in the Three Jewels affect our daily lives?

Q8: Does one have to take refuge in the Three Jewels in order to formally become a Buddhist?

Q9: How many times can a Buddhist take refuge?

Resource: Issue 353 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: 蔡全
Translation: Pin-an Chen (陳品安)   

Editing: Keith Brown, 可馨