The ceremony begins with the establishment of
an inspirational setting and goes through the following steps:
The student is directed to offer three prostrations to the Three Jewels with a feeling of faith, confidence and trust, seeking refuge in them. He or she is then directed to sit with the right knee on the ground and the hands joined together. The joined hands connote respect, the bent knee sincerity.
Repetition of vow
The vow is repeated three times. Each repetition has a different intention. The student is directed to foster the appropriate intention during each repetition:
- first repetition: request for refuge
- second repetition: intention to observe the vow
- third repetition: acceptance of vow
Request for the support of the teacher
The student formally requests the support of the teacher in the intention of refuge.
Acknowledgement of the commitment
The student formally acknowledges having made this commitment.
Confirmation of commitment
The vow is confirmed by the giving of a new name and by the cutting of a lock of hair. The new name signifies a new life, acts as a reminder of having taken refuge, and serves as an inspiration. The cutting of the hair symbolizes Buddha Shakyamuni’s determination in turning away from the distractions of ordinary life. It derives from his cutting his hair near a stupa shortly after he left the palace and entered the way of the religious mendicant.
The teacher instructs the student in the commitments of the vow, explains the benefits of taking the vow, and prays for the student’s growth through his or her practice.
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